Gavia adamsii 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Gaviiformes Gaviidae

Scientific Name: Gavia adamsii (Gray, 1859)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Yellow-billed Loon, White-billed Diver, Yellow-billed Diver
Spanish colimbo de Adams
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: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Kirchhoff, M., Laing, K. & Schmutz, J.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Anderson, O., Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Ekstrom, J., Malpas, L., Moreno, R.
This species is classified as Near Threatened as it is suspected to be undergoing a moderately rapid population decline owing to unsustainable subsistence harvest and almost qualifies for listing as threatened under criteria A2d+3d+4d. However, accurate data lacking and further surveys need to be conducted to quantify the current rate of harvest.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species breeds in the Arctic in Russia, Alaska (U.S.A.), and Canada , and winters at sea mainly off the coasts of Norway (>1,500 individuals [Bell and Håland 2008]), western North America, and the eastern coast of Asia, including the coasts of Japan, North Korea, South Korea, and China (del Hoyo et al. 1992, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2009). The population is thought to number 16,000-32,000 individuals, with 3,000-4,000 in Alaska, 20,000 in Canada and 8,000 in Russia (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2009). The breeding range in Russia has possibly contracted (K. Laing in litt. 2008). The westernmost breeding site in Russia is the south-western coast of Novaya Zemlya archipelago; the most dense (1.8 bp/10 sq km) and stable population is thought to be on Chukotka Peninsula; and the northernmost record is from the Upper Taimyra river mouth, Central Taimyr (see Håland 2008). The minimum European population in winter is estimated at 1,000 individuals (BirdLife International 2015).

Countries occurrence:
Belgium; Canada; China; Denmark; Finland; Japan; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Mexico; Norway; Russian Federation (Central Asian Russia, Eastern Asian Russia, European Russia); Sweden; United States
Austria; Belarus; Bulgaria; Croatia; Czech Republic; Estonia; Faroe Islands; France; Germany; Greenland; Ireland; Italy; Myanmar; Netherlands; Poland; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Svalbard and Jan Mayen; Switzerland; Ukraine; United Kingdom
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:12000000
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 has been estimated at 16,000-32,000 individuals.

Trend Justification:  Population trends have not been quantified. However, the total of c.1,000 individuals harvested in the Bering Sea region in 2007 indicates that subsistence harvest may be causing a population decline (M. Kirchhoff in litt. 2010). Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that the breeding range of the species has declined in the west and east of Russia (K. Laing in litt. 2008). As such, a decline of 1-19% over the past 29 years (three generations) is precautionarily suspected, although surveys are required to confirm that such declines are currently occuring.

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:11000-21000Continuing 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:Behaviour This species is fully migratory (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It breeds from early June (largely depending upon the timing of the spring thaw) in solitary pairs, after which it travels southwards and towards the coast (del Hoyo et al. 1992) to its wintering grounds, where it is present between October and May (Snow and Perrins 1998). Outside of the breeding season the species occurs singly, in pairs or in small groups (Snow and Perrins 1998). Habitat: Breeding The species may breed on low-lying Arctic coasts and estuaries but is more common on freshwater pools, lakes or rivers in the Arctic tundra (del Hoyo et al. 1992), showing a preference for deep (Earnst et al. 2006), clear lakes with stony or sandy substrates (Flint et al. 1984) where water levels do not fluctuate (North and Ryan 1989). Optimum habitats include lakes where the water does not completely freeze, which have dependable supplies of fish and which have highly convoluted shorelines and aquatic vegetation providing habitats for fish and sites for nesting and brood rearing (Earnst et al. 2006). The species generally avoids forested areas (del Hoyo et al. 1992) but may fly long distances to feed away from breeding waters (Snow and Perrins 1998). Non-breeding Outside of the breeding season the species inhabits inshore waters (del Hoyo et al. 1992), fjords with muddy substrates (Byrkjedal, et al. 2000) and inlets (Snow and Perrins 1998) along sheltered coasts (del Hoyo et al. 1992), generally avoiding ice-covered waters (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Diet Its diet is little known but may consist predominantly of fish (e.g. Coregonus and Pungitius species, cottidae, Microgadus proximus and Gadus morhua) as well as crustaceans, molluscs and marine annelids (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Breeding site The nest is a small depression (Flint et al. 1984) in a mound of plant matter or turf (del Hoyo et al. 1992)  constructed on dry land (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Flint et al. 1984) 1 m away (North and Ryan 1989) from the edge of water (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Flint et al. 1984), usually on the shores of lakes with deep (Earnst et al. 2006), clear water and stony or sandy substrates (Flint et al. 1984) in sites providing good visibility over the surrounding land and water (North and Ryan 1989).

Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):9.79
Movement patterns:Full Migrant
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species is vulnerable to coastal oil spills in both its breeding and wintering ranges (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It may be threatened by oil development activities on its Alaskan breeding grounds, as c.90% of birds nesting on the Arctic Coastal Plain are in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, and 29% are on tracts that have already been leased for oil and gas exploration (North and Ryan 1989; K. Laing in litt. 2008). The largest impact from oil is likely while loons are on the coastal marine waters as the oil can distribute widely and loons frequently fly to marine waters to gather fish. At a population level, significantly less exposure to oil would occur at breeding lakes since so few individual lakes are impacted by the oil industry.  Wintering individuals are also potentially threatened by heavy metal pollution, oil spills, and by drowning in fishing nets (particularly in the north Pacific [del Hoyo et al. 1992]). Although rates of harvest are currently thought to be at sustainable levels (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2009), exact harvest numbers are unknown, and a record of c.1,000 individuals taken in the Bering Sea region in 2007 indicates that this may pose the greatest threat to the species (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2009; M. Kirchhoff in litt. 2010). Climate change is likely to be a future threat to the species (Gavrilo 2008). Threats are exacerbated by a low reproductive rate and very specific breeding habitat requirements (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2009, K. Laing in litt. 2008).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Western Palearctic population is CMS Appendix II. In 2006 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, working with a variety of native, state and federal partners, developed a conservation agreement to protect the species in northern and western Alaska, with an aim to eliminate or reduce current or potential threats (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2009). The species is closely monitored and a 2013 report about subsistence harvest of loons now ameliorates concerns and suggest that the exceptional harvest estimate from 2007 was biased.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Update the current population estimate and establish a monitoring programme to elucidate trends. Assess current levels of harvest and initiate control measures should they be unsustainable. Assess comparative ecology and possible impact of climate change.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Gavia adamsii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22697847A90096261. . Downloaded on 22 June 2018.
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