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Phalacrocorax aristotelis

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA AVES SULIFORMES PHALACROCORACIDAE

Scientific Name: Phalacrocorax aristotelis
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1761)
Common Name(s):
English European Shag, Shag

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Calvert, R., Malpas, L., Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Hatchett, J.
Justification:
This species has a very 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 very 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.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The European Shag can be found along the entire Atlantic coast of Europe as far north as Finland and including Iceland, as far south as the coast of Morocco, and ranges in the entire Mediterranean nesting on parts of the coastline of most European (e.g. Italy, Turkey) and north African countries (e.g. Algeria, Libya), as well as parts of the Black Sea coast (e.g. Ukraine) (del Hoyo et al. 1992).
Countries:
Native:
Albania; Algeria; Belgium; Bulgaria; Croatia; Cyprus; Egypt; Faroe Islands; France; Germany; Gibraltar; Greece; Iceland; Ireland; Italy; Libya; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Morocco; Netherlands; Norway; Portugal; Russian Federation; Slovenia; Spain; Tunisia; Turkey; Ukraine; United Kingdom
Vagrant:
Austria; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Czech Republic; Denmark; Finland; Iraq; Kazakhstan; Liechtenstein; Malta; Montenegro; Poland; Romania; Serbia (Serbia); Sweden; Switzerland; Syrian Arab Republic
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Behaviour The European Shag is a coastal species that shows high nesting site fidelity. It feeds exclusively diurnally, and one bird is always present with the clutch or brood during the breeding season. The species breeds in colonies (del Hoyo et al. 1992) that can hold more than a thousand well-spaced pairs (Snow and Perrins 1998, Nelson 2005). It is largely sedentary (del Hoyo et al. 1992), although immatures may undergo post-breeding dispersive movements over short distances (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Some birds undergo short-distance migrations during winter. Individuals often forage alone when away from nesting colonies and in winter (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Snow and Perrins 1998), but may follow dense shoals of fish in flocks of several hundred individuals (Nelson 2005). Habitat It occupies marine habitats but does not usually occur far from land (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It shows a strong preference for rocky coasts and islands (del Hoyo et al. 1992) with adjacent deep, clear water (Nelson 2005), and forages over sandy and rocky seabeds (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It also prefers sheltered fishing grounds such as bays and channels, although it generally avoids estuaries, shallow or muddy inlets and fresh or brackish waters (Wanless and Harris 1997). Diet The species feeds on a wide range of benthic, demersal and schooling, pelagic fish. Sandeels (Ammodytidae) are the dominant prey of birds in British and some Spanish populations (Wanless et al 1997, Velando and Friere 1999, BirdLife International 2000, Velando et al. 2005), and are consistently present in the species' diet in most other locations studied. These are usually caught at, or near, the sea bed (Wanless et al 1997). Other prey species include fish of the families Gadidae, Clupeidae, Cottidae, Labridae, and Trisopterus spp. (del Hoyo et al. 1992), although birds also take small numbers of polychaetes, cephalopods, other molluscs and small benthic crustaceans (Wanless and Harris 1997). Adults provision their chicks with sandeels, but consume a broader variety of prey for themselves (BirdLife International 2000). The Mediterranean subspecies feeds mainly on coastal fishes, caught from the bottom or mid water over rocky or sandy seabeds, but economically important fish seem to form a very small part of the diet (Aguilar and Fernandez 1999). Breeding site The nest is constructed of marine vegetation and flotsam (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Nelson 2005), from just above the high water level to over 100 m high (Snow and Perrins 1998) on ledges, in crevices or in caves on sea cliffs, rocks and stacks, and at the base of sea cliffs amongst boulders (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Foraging range At Islas Cíes, Spain, birds foraged within 20 km of the colony all year round (Velando et al. 2005). During the breeding season, the foraging range was typically within 4 km of the colony, and birds foraged in groups of 300-1000 individuals (Velando et al. 2005). Foraging areas tend to coincide with areas of sandy benthic sediment (Wanless et al 1991, BirdLife International 2000, Velando et al. 2005), and occur where depth is less than 80 m (Wanless et al 1991, Velando and Friere 1999). At the Isle of May, Scotland, over 90% of foraging occurred within 13 km of the colony, and the maximum distance recorded was 17 km (Wanless et al 1991). Foraging individuals visited more than one area during a trip, often feeding at sites several kilometres apart (Wanless et al 1991). Birds were often found feeding in areas of strong tidal flow (Wanless et al 1991). The available data on European Shag feeding habitat suggest that, within the inshore zone as a whole, the species is fairly plastic in its habitat requirements. In some areas, the birds' foraging range is considerably less than 20 km; the small number of birds breeding at Hirta, Scotland, all appeared to forage within a 2 km radius (BirdLife International 2000). Similarly, birds were only present within 3 km of North Rona, Scotland (BirdLife International 2000).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species is persecuted (e.g. shot, intentionally drowned or poisoned) at commercial fisheries and fish farms as it is perceived to be a threat to fish stocks (Carss 1994, Wanless and Harris 1997). It also suffers predation at nesting colonies by introduced American mink Neovison vison (Wanless and Harris 1997), is vulnerable to coastal oil pollution (Wanless and Harris 1997, Velando et al. 2005), locally suffers from accidental entanglement and subsequent drowning in gill-nets (fishing nets) (Wanless and Harris 1997, Velando and Freire 2002), and is susceptible to the Newcastle disease so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the virus (Kuiken 1999). Utilisation Eggs, chicks and adults are taken from colonies for food (Wanless and Harris 1997).

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Phalacrocorax aristotelis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 23 October 2014.
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