Gavia stellata 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Gaviiformes Gaviidae

Scientific Name: Gavia stellata (Pontoppidan, 1763)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Red-throated Loon, Red-throated Diver
French Plongeon catmarin
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: 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.
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 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.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The species is migratory, breeding in the Arctic Regions of the northern hemisphere generally north of 50°, and wintering along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America as far south as Florida and California (U.S.A.), on the coast of Portugal, in the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea, and on the Pacific coast of Asia as far south as south-east China.

Countries occurrence:
Austria; Azerbaijan; Belgium; Bulgaria; Canada; China; Croatia; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Faroe Islands; Finland; France; Georgia; Germany; Greece; Greenland; Hungary; Iceland; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Kazakhstan; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Latvia; Lithuania; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Mexico; Moldova; Montenegro; Netherlands; Norway; Pakistan; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Russian Federation (Central Asian Russia, Eastern Asian Russia, European Russia); Saint Pierre and Miquelon; Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain (Canary Is. - Vagrant); Svalbard and Jan Mayen; Sweden; Switzerland; Taiwan, Province of China; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; United Kingdom; United States
Algeria; Armenia; Belarus; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Gambia; Gibraltar; Israel; Liechtenstein; Luxembourg; Malta; Mongolia; Morocco; Tunisia
Present - origin uncertain:
Albania; Bahamas; Monaco
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:60300000
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):500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The global population is estimated to number c.200,000-600,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2015), while national population estimates include: c.50-10,000 wintering individuals in Japan and c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in Russia (Brazil 2009). The European population is estimated at 42,100-93,000 pairs, which equates to 84,200-186,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).

Trend Justification:  The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations may be stable and others have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2015). This species has had stable population trends over the last 40 years in North America (data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007). The European population trend is unknown (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 This species is strongly migratory, with inland populations moving south or to the coast after breeding (del Hoyo et al. 1992). The species breeds from May onwards, nesting later further to the north depending on the timing of the thaw (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It usually nests solitarily on smaller waters but may nest in loosely colonial groups on larger waters (e.g. several pairs nesting a few metres apart on the same lake) (Snow and Perrins 1998). On migration large flocks of 200-1,200 individuals may form, with similar concentrations occurring on rich marine fishing grounds during the winter (del Hoyo et al. 1992). The species is most commonly observed singly, in pairs or in small scattered flocks during this season however (Snow and Perrins 1998). Habitat Breeding The species breeds on freshwater pools or lakes in open moorland, blanket bogs (del Hoyo et al. 1992) or open and wet peatland habitats (Campbell 1987). It will nest on pools as small as 10-20 m long or on lakes up to 5 ha in area, showing a preference for those in treeless areas that have well-vegetated margins and low islets or promontories on which to nest (Snow and Perrins 1998). It generally avoids waters with dense floating or emergent vegetation and steep rocks above the water (Snow and Perrins 1998), and if feeding conditions are inadequate in the pool chosen for breeding the species may fly to the coast or to lakes with higher abundances of fish in order to feed (Snow and Perrins 1998). Non-breeding Outside of the breeding season the species frequents inshore waters along sheltered coasts, occasionally occurring inland (del Hoyo et al. 1992) on lakes, pools, reservoirs and rivers (Snow and Perrins 1998). Diet Its diet consists predominantly of fish as well as crustaceans, molluscs, frogs, fish spawn (del Hoyo et al. 1992), aquatic insects, annelid worms (Snow and Perrins 1998) and plant matter (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Breeding site The nest is a small depression (Flint et al. 1984, Snow and Perrins 1998) or a mound of plant matter (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Snow and Perrins 1998) built in shallow water up to 10 m from the shore (Snow and Perrins 1998) or very near the water's edge (Flint et al. 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Snow and Perrins 1998) on islets or small promontories (Flint et al. 1984). Nesting pairs will often re-use the same site in successive years (Snow and Perrins 1998). Management information In Scotland attempts have been made to implement education schemes for fishermen and land-owners to try to reduce disturbance and mortality of the species on breeding lakes (Campbell 1987). The introduction of floating artificial nesting rafts may also be successful in increasing the species's breeding success (Campbell 1987).

Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):9.8
Movement patterns:Full Migrant
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): When breeding the species is threatened by water level fluctuations (Campbell 1987, del Hoyo et al. 1992), acidification of breeding waters (Campbell 1987, del Hoyo et al. 1992), heavy metal pollution (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and the afforestation of peatland or moorland habitats (Campbell 1987). It is also sensitive to human disturbance from recreational activities (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and shoreline development (e.g. construction work near breeding lakes) (Meek et al. 1993) and will desert sites if there is too much human activity (del Hoyo et al. 1992). During the winter the species is highly vulnerable to coastal oil spills, especially in areas where large concentrations form (e.g. on rich fishing grounds) (del Hoyo et al. 1992), and is highly sensitive to disturbance from coastal wind farms (wind turbines) during this season (Garthe and Huppop 2004). The species suffers mortality at sea and on large lakes due to entanglement and drowning in inshore fishing nets (del Hoyo et al. 1992) with potentially significant impacts on the breeding and wintering population within the Baltic Sea where large numbers of birds overlap with intensive gillnet fisheries (Žydelis et al. 2013). It is also highly sensitive to disturbance at sea, particularly from vessel traffic along shipping lanes, a particular problem in the North Sea and the Baltic region due to high numbers of vessels passing through (Schwemmer et al. 2011). It is susceptible to avian influenza so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the virus (Melville and Shortridge 2006). As a species which breeds in the Arctic it is likely to be affected by impacts from climate change, including changes in habitat and prey availability (Ganter and Gaston 2013).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
The species is listed on Annex II of the Convention on Migratory Species, and is listed under the African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement. It is listed on Annex II of the Bern Convention, Annex I of the EU Birds Directive and listed as critically endangered on the HELCOM convention. The following information refers to the species's European range only: There are 58 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas for this species. Within the EU it occurs and is protected in 426 Special Protection Areas. Since the 1970s, conservation work in Finland has included building artificial rafts for this species to reduce predation risk, which has led to higher breeding success in some areas. Within the North Sea (Germany) work is underway to test alternative fishing gears to gillnets, while in Lithuania gillnet bycatch mitigation is being trialled.

Conservation Actions Proposed
The following information refers to the species's European range only: Development of mitigation measures for gillnet bycatch for commercial and artisanal fishing vessels. Prevention of chronic oil pollution and oil spill events, and development of rapid, trans-boundary plans for oil spill response. Protection of feeding grounds, and regulations for vessel traffic, management of recreational activities at important breeding and non-breeding sites, careful siting of windfarms away from critical habitat or migration pathways.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Gavia stellata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22697829A86220430. . Downloaded on 16 July 2018.
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