Fratercula arctica 

Scope: Europe
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Charadriiformes Alcidae

Scientific Name: Fratercula arctica (Linnaeus, 1758)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Atlantic Puffin, Puffin
Taxonomic Source(s): Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A4abcde (Regional assessment) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-03-31
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ashpole, J, Burfield, I., Ieronymidou, C., Pople, R., Tarzia, M, Wheatley, H. & Wright, L
European regional assessment: Endangered (EN)
EU27 regional assessment: Near Threatened (NT)

This species began undergoing rapid declines across the majority of its European breeding range during the 2000s. Extrapolated over a three generation length period (65 years), allowing for considerable uncertainty given the long trend period (and even assuming current rates of decline do not continue), the species warrants classification as Endangered (A4abcde) in Europe, and Near Threatened in the EU27 (where declines have apparently been less rapid, although uncertainty remains over the post-2000 trend in the key range state, the UK).

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The species can be found throughout the North Atlantic Ocean. In Europe it occurs in north-west Greenland (to Denmark), and from north Norway down to the Canary Islands, Spain in the east (Nettleship et al. 2014).
Countries occurrence:
Belgium; Denmark; Faroe Islands; France; Germany; Gibraltar; Greenland; Iceland; Ireland; Italy; Netherlands; Norway; Portugal; Russian Federation (European Russia); Spain; Svalbard and Jan Mayen; Sweden; United Kingdom
Austria; Croatia; Finland; Hungary; Malta; Montenegro; Poland; Serbia
Present - origin uncertain:
Estonia; Latvia; Lithuania
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:
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
Range Map:22694927-1

Population [top]

Population:The European population is estimated at 4,770,000-5,780,000 pairs, which equates to 9,550,000-11,600,000 mature individuals. The population in the EU27 is estimated at 601,000 pairs, which equates to 1,200,000 mature individuals. For details of national estimates, see the Supplementary Material.

Trend Justification:  The population in Iceland and Norway, which together account for 80% of the European population, decreased markedly since the early 2000s and, although the population size was estimated to be increasing in the UK during 1969-2000, evidence suggests that it has undergone declines or probable declines since 2000 (Harris and Wanless 2011). As a result, the population size in Europe is estimated and projected to decrease by 50-79% during 2000-2065 (three generations). In the EU27 the population size is estimated and projected to decrease at a rate approaching 30% in the same period. For details of national estimates, see attached PDF.
For further information about this species, see 22694927_fratercula_arctica.pdf.
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Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:9550000-11600000,10500000Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
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:The breeding range is restricted to colder parts of the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, with its southernmost colonies in Brittany (France).  Breeding colonies are located in Iceland, Norway, Faroe Islands, the U.K., Ireland and France on islands or high cliffs.

The species nests on grassy maritime slopes, sea cliffs and rocky slopes (Nettleship et al. 2014). During the winter the species is highly pelagic and is dispersed widely across the sea from the Azores to the western Mediterranean and Canary Islands. When feeding chicks, birds generally forage within 10 km of their colony, but may range as far as 50 to 100 km or more (Harris 1984, Rodway and Montevecchi 1996). Birds of this species are pursuit-divers that catch most of their prey within 30 m of the water surface (Piatt & Nettleship 1985). They prey on 'forage' species, including juvenile pelagic fishes, such as herring (Clupea harengus), juvenile and adult capelin (Mallotus villosus), and sand eel (Ammodytes spp.) (Barrett et al. 1987). At times, they also prey on juvenile demersal fishes, such as gadids (Harris and Hislop 1978, Martin 1989, Rodway and Montevecchi 1996). Sand eels usually form the majority of the prey fed to chicks (Corkhill 1973, Hislop and Harris 1985, Harris and Wanless 1986, Harris and Riddiford 1989, Martin 1989), and many chicks starve during periods of low sand eel abundance (Martin 1989).
Systems:Terrestrial; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):21.6
Movement patterns:Full Migrant
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is highly susceptible to the impacts of climate change, such as sea temperature rise and shifts in prey distribution and abundance (Durant et al. 2003, Sandvik et al. 2005). This is a particularly important threat when prey species are exploited unsustainably, leading to prey reductions and subsequent unsuccessful breeding. The species is vulnerable to oil spills and other marine pollution. The species is also vulnerable to extreme weather events and storms, with large wrecks recorded following severe winter storms at sea. At the breeding colonies the species is vulnerable to invasive predators, such as rats, cats, and American Mink (Neovison vison). The species is susceptible to being caught in gillnets, although other fishing gears may also catch significant numbers. Increasing numbers of offshore wind farms may result in displacement from habitat, although the risk of collision is considered very low (Bradbury et al. 2014). The species is hunted for human consumption in Iceland, and in the Faroe Islands (Thorup et al. 2014).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
The species is listed under the African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement. The species is included in the Action plan for seabirds in Western-Nordic areas (2010). There are 76 marine Important Bird Areas identified across the European region. Within the EU there are 40 Special Protection Areas which list this species as occurring within its boundaries.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Further identification of important sites for this species, particularly in offshore regions and designation as marine protected areas; Identify the risks of different activities on seabirds, and locations sensitive to seabirds. Continue eradication of invasive predators from breeding colonies. Management of fisheries to ensure long term sustainability of key stocks (e.g. sand eels). Establish observer schemes for bycatch and prepare National/European Community plans of action on seabird bycatch. Continue AMAP monitoring of seabird contaminants; include new contaminants and secure communication between seabird and contaminants research. Increase the level of understanding among the public of introducing hunting restrictions. Develop codes-of-conduct for more organised activities (e.g. tourism). Ensure that appropriate protection (national laws and international agreements) applies to new areas and times in cases of changes in seabird migration routes and times.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2015. Fratercula arctica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T22694927A60110592. . Downloaded on 15 August 2018.
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