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Sterna paradisaea 

Scope: Global
Language: English
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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Charadriiformes Laridae

Scientific Name: Sterna paradisaea
Species Authority: Pontoppidan, 1763
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Arctic Tern
French Sterne arctique
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Ekstrom, J., Malpas, L.
Justification:
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species has a circumpolar range, breeding in the Arctic and subarctic regions of Europe, Asia and North America as far south as Brittany, France and Massachusetts (U.S.A.). It is a transequatorial migrant, and can be found wintering throughout the Southern Ocean to the edge of the Antarctic ice and the southern tips of South America and Africa (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Overall population trends are relatively unknown, though the 2008 breeding season in the north of the United Kingdom was reported to be a failure by the RSPB.
Countries occurrence:
Native:
Angola (Angola); Antarctica; Argentina; Australia; Austria; Belgium; Benin; Bermuda; Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Brazil; British Indian Ocean Territory; Cameroon; Canada; Cape Verde; Chile; Colombia; Congo; Costa Rica; Côte d'Ivoire; Cuba; Denmark; Ecuador; Equatorial Guinea; Estonia; Falkland Islands (Malvinas); Faroe Islands; Finland; France; Gabon; Gambia; Germany; Ghana; Greece; Greenland; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Iceland; Ireland; Japan; Latvia; Liberia; Lithuania; Mauritania; Mexico; Morocco; Namibia; Netherlands; New Zealand; Nigeria; Norway; Paraguay; Peru; Poland; Portugal; Puerto Rico; Russian Federation; Saint Pierre and Miquelon; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Spain; Svalbard and Jan Mayen; Sweden; Togo; United Kingdom; United States
Vagrant:
Algeria; Belarus; Bulgaria; Central African Republic; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Egypt; French Southern Territories; Gibraltar; Guadeloupe; Hungary; India; Indonesia; Israel; Italy; Jordan; Kuwait; Lesotho; Libya; Luxembourg; Marshall Islands; Montenegro; Mozambique; Oman; Panama; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; Senegal; Serbia (Serbia); Slovakia; Sudan; Switzerland; Turkey; Ukraine; United Arab Emirates; Uruguay; Virgin Islands, U.S.
Present - origin uncertain:
Bouvet Island; Guatemala; Heard Island and McDonald Islands
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:65700000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):100
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The global population is estimated to number > c.2,000,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2015). The European population is estimated at 564,000-906,000 pairs, which equates to 1,130,000-1,810,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). The population in Russia has been estimated at c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration (Brazil 2009).

Trend Justification:  The overall population trend is decreasing (Wetlands International 2015). In Europe the population size is estimated to be decreasing by less than 25% in 40.2 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015).

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Behaviour The species is a very strong migrant and makes exceptional long-distance movements offshore or along western continental coastlines (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Melville and Shortridge 2006) between its high Arctic breeding grounds and Antarctic wintering grounds (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It breeds between May and July (although the exact timing varies with temperature and food availability) in solitary pairs or colonies of a few to several hundred pairs (usually 2-25) (del Hoyo et al. 1996), and remains gregarious throughout the year especially when roosting, foraging (Snow and Perrins 1998) and on passage (Higgins and Davies 1996). The species generally feeds within 3 km of breeding colonies but may occasionally forage up to 50 km away (del Hoyo et al. 1996). On its wintering grounds in Antarctica it may also forage in association with Antarctic Minke Whale Balaenoptera bonaerensis in the open ocean north of the pack-ice zone (Higgins and Davies 1996). Habitat Breeding The species breeds along northern coastlines (del Hoyo et al. 1996)and on inshore islands (Flint et al. 1984, Snow and Perrins 1998) as well as inland on tundra and forest-tundra (Flint et al. 1984). It shows a preference for habitats with a vegetation cover of less than 40 %, nesting on sand or shingle beaches, ridges (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and spits (Flint et al. 1984), rocky ground (Flint et al. 1984, Richards 1990, del Hoyo et al. 1996) and small islands (Flint et al. 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998) in lakes and coastal lagoons (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It may also nest on islets or banks along rivers (Snow and Perrins 1998), on swampy tundra (Flint et al. 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1996) and peatlands with bog hummocks (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and reed-covered flats (Flint et al. 1984), or on inland heaths, rough pastures (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), meadows (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and sedge grassland (Snow and Perrins 1998) not far from water (Flint et al. 1984). The species also forages offshore, in ice-filled coastal bays or over wet tundra (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Non-breeding On passage it largely flies over open ocean (Snow and Perrins 1998) resting at sea on kelp, logs or flotsam, but may occur inland or along coastlines on beaches, reefs and spits (Higgins and Davies 1996). During the winter the species is pelagic, foraging at the edges of pack-ice, icebergs and ice-floes near shore (especially in channels between ice-floes) (Higgins and Davies 1996) and up to 24 km offshore (Higgins and Davies 1996, del Hoyo et al. 1996) often in association with Antarctic Minke Whale Balaenoptera bonaerensis (Higgins and Davies 1996). It also roosts on ice-floes and icebergs during this season (Higgins and Davies 1996). Diet Its diet consists predominantly of fishas well as crustaceans (especially planktonic species), molluscs, insects (e.g. caterpillars, Chironomidae) and earthworms (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It will also take berries in the early spring on arrival on its breeding grounds but does not readily switch to other prey items when preferred prey supplies fail (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest is a shallow scrape (del Hoyo et al. 1996) in sand, shingle or turf (Richards 1990) on beaches, ridges (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and spits (Flint et al. 1984), rocky ground (Flint et al. 1984, Richards 1990, del Hoyo et al. 1996), small islands (Flint et al. 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998) in lakes, coastal lagoons (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and rivers (Snow and Perrins 1998), swampy tundra (Flint et al. 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1996) and peatlands with bog hummocks (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and reed-covered flats (Flint et al. 1984), or on inland heaths, rough pastures (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), meadows (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and sedge grassland (Snow and Perrins 1998) not far from water (Flint et al. 1984). It will also nest on artificial structures (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Management information Removing feral American mink Neovison vison from a large archipelago with many small islands in the Baltic Sea resulted in an increase in the breeding density of this species in the area (Nordstrom et al. 2003). Gull control measures may also be practised successfully at some sites to reduce predation and displacement, especially when carried out in conjunction with the use of recordings and models to induce recolonistion of nesting terns (Buckley and Buckley 1984).
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):13.4
Movement patterns:Full Migrant
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species is potentially threatened by climate change because it has a geographically bounded distribution: its global distribution is restricted to within c.10o latitude from the polar edge of continent and within which 20-50% of current vegetation type is projected to disappear under doubling of CO2 levels (Birdlife International, unpublished data). In many parts of Scandinavia, declines have been caused in the past by egg collecting, however this has decreased in recent years allowing the population to recover (Gochfeld et al. 2014). In some areas predation by Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) (Horobin 1971) and American Mink (Mustela vison) can be a problem (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997) and mortality has been recorded as a result of red tide (Horobin 1971). In northern Britain the collapse of sand eel stocks have caused a crash in the population and in Svalbard the population may be vulnerable to oil, particularly in the post-breeding period (Gochfeld et al. 2014). Pollution is likely a major factor in the species's decline and yachting and other leisure activities have led to an increase in disturbance. Declines have also been correlated with gull abundance within its European range (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
The following information refers to the species's European range only: CMS Appendix II. EU Birds Directive Annex I. Bern Convention Appendix II. In the Baltic Sea, removing feral American Mink (Neovison vison) from a large archipelago with many small islands resulted in an increase in the breeding density of this species in the area (Nordström et al. 2003). 

Conservation Actions Proposed
The following information refers to the species's European range only: Gull control measures may also be practised successfully at some sites to reduce predation and displacement, especially when carried out in conjunction with the use of recordings and models to induce recolonistion of nesting terns (Buckley and Buckley 1984). This species benefits from the removal of American Mink (Nordström et al. 2003).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Sterna paradisaea. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22694629A86791057. . Downloaded on 07 December 2016.
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