Acrocephalus paludicola 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Acrocephalidae

Scientific Name: Acrocephalus paludicola
Species Authority: (Vieillot, 1817)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Aquatic Warbler
French Phragmite aquatique
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A., Fishpool, L.D.C., Boesman, P. and Kirwan, G.M. 2016. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 2: Passerines. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
Identification information: 12-13 cm. Small, heavily streaked, buff-and-black warbler. Strong black streaking on mantle bordered by pale "tramlines". Pale coronal stripe with black border. Pale lores. Streaked back, rump and uppertail-coverts. Finely streaked breast. Similar spp. Sedge Warbler A. schoenobaenus generally browner and less streaked. Lacks strongly streaked mantle and pale "tramlines", pale coronal stripe and streaks on breast. Song more complex and varied with mimicry and distinctive sweet notes. Voice Series of simple trills and short whistles, given from vegetation or short song flight. Does not mimic extensively. Low tuk or dry churr call.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2c ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Flade, M., Kalyakin, M., Lachmann, L., Malashevich, U. & Burfield, I.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Capper, D., Derhé, M., Ekstrom, J., Peet, N., Symes, A., Khwaja, N. & Ashpole, J
Surveys in 1995-2005 discovered previously unknown populations of this species, resulting in a substantially increased population estimate. However, it probably declined rapidly until the late 1990s, as a result of the destruction of its habitat, at a rate equivalent to 40% in 10 years. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable. The population is still widely conservation-dependent. The genetically distinct and isolated Pomeranian population is still declining and at a critical level, while the population in Hungary recently declined to extinction, and that in Lithuania continues to decline.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species breeds across a highly fragmented range at fewer than 50 regular breeding sites in the following countries, with numbers given of singing males reported for the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International 2015): Poland, 3,250 (year: 2012); Belarus, 3,086-7,029 (years 2006-2011); Ukraine, 2,600-3,400 (year 2000); Germany, 0-10 (years 2005-2009), Lithuania, 60-90 (years 2011-2012) and European Russia, 4-5 (years 2004-2008). On migration, it has been recorded in c.15 European countries, mainly in the west and southwest of the continent (U. Malashevich in litt. 2012). It winters in the Sahelian belt of sub-Saharan West Africa, mainly along the lower Senegal River, where it was discovered in January 2007 within and to the north of Djoudj National Park (Bargain et al. 2008, Flade 2008, U. Malashevich in litt. 2012), and in 2011 found in smaller wetlands in south-west Mauritania and at the inner Niger Delta in Mali (U. Malashevich in litt. 2012). Two-thirds of the known population has been discovered since 1995. Since 1970, it is likely to have declined significantly as a result of the destruction of 80-90% of its habitat in the river systems of upper Pripyat, Yaselda (Belarus) and Biebrza/Narew (Poland). These systems hold approximately 75% of the European population. Owing to extensive conservation projects, the decline has been stopped in its central European strongholds in eastern Poland, Belarus and Ukraine, but continues in the Pomeranian population of northwest Poland and northeast Germany. In Hungary, the population collapsed in 2002-2007 and the population estimate for 2011-2012 was zero calling males (BirdLife International 2015). The tiny Siberian population is on the brink of extinction and has probably already disappeared, in which case the species has become a European endemic breeder (M. Flade and L. Lachmann in litt. 2007).

Countries occurrence:
Algeria; Belarus; Belgium; Bulgaria; Croatia; Czech Republic; France; Germany; Ghana; Italy; Latvia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Mauritania; Morocco; Netherlands; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Senegal; Slovenia; Spain; Switzerland; Ukraine; United Kingdom; Western Sahara
Possibly extinct:
Russian Federation
Regionally extinct:
Austria; Hungary; Montenegro; Serbia (Serbia); Slovakia
Cyprus; Denmark; Egypt; Estonia; Finland; Greece; Ireland; Israel; Kazakhstan; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Malta; Norway; Sweden; Tunisia; Turkey
Present - origin uncertain:
Andorra; Burkina Faso; Mali; San Marino
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:1500Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:578000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):YesExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:11-100Continuing decline in number of locations:Yes
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):200
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The European population is estimated at 9,000-13,800 calling or lekking males, which equates to 18,000-27,600 mature individuals or 27,000-41,400 individuals (BirdLife International 2015). The population is estimated at 11,000-16,000 singing males (M. Flade in litt. 2012), equivalent to 22,000-32,000 mature individuals or 33,000-48,000 individuals in total.

Trend Justification:  This species probably declined rapidly until the late 1990s, as a result of the destruction of its habitat at a rate equivalent to 40% in ten years. The 2015 European Red List of Birds estimated the European population to be decreasing by 30-49% in 13.2 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:22000-32000Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:2-100Continuing decline in subpopulations:Yes
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It breeds in large open lowland marsh habitats with low grassy vegetation (mostly sedge fen mires) with water mostly less than 10 cm deep (Aquatic Warbler Conservation Team 1999). It winters in similar habitats (the grassy saline Scirpus, Eleocharis and Oryza marshes of the Senegal and Niger deltas) and, on migration, favours coastal habitats with low stands of sedge and reed near open water (Flade et al. 2011).

Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):4.4
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The most important threats are loss of breeding habitat owing to drainage for agriculture and peat extraction, damming of floodplains, unfavourable water management and the canalisation of rivers. Habitat degradation is widespread where traditional fen management has ceased allowing succession to unsuitable overgrown reedbed, scrub or woodland (Aquatic Warbler Conservation Team 1999). Commercial reed cutting can maintain suitable breeding habitat for the species in central Europe, but this is threatened by changes that are likely to occur along with the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy (Tanneberger et al. 2009). Uncontrolled fires in spring and summer pose a direct threat to birds and nests, and can burn out the upper peat layer of fens (Aquatic Warbler Conservation Team 1999). In the wintering grounds, agricultural cultivation and irrigation (creation of rice and sugar cane plantations), drought, wetland drainage, intensive grazing, succession to scrub, desertification and salinisation of irrigated soils are all potential threats (Aquatic Warbler Conservation Team 1999, M. Flade and L. Lachmann in litt. 2007).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix I and II. EU Birds Directive Annex I. It is legally protected in all countries of its breeding range except Ukraine and Russia (U. Malashevich in litt. 2012). All key breeding sites in Belarus, Germany, Hungary and Poland are located within protected areas (Aquatic Warbler Conservation Team 1999, U. Malashevich in litt. 2012). Habitat is actively managed in Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, Hungary and Germany. All breeding range states but Russia have monitoring programmes (Aquatic Warbler Conservation Team 1999, M. Flade and L. Lachmann in litt. 2007). A study to identify the wintering range of the species was conducted in 2007 (Flade 2008). Studies on halting succession have been conducted in Belarus, Poland and Ukraine (M. Kalyakin in litt. 1999). A European action plan was published in 1996 and updated in 1998, 2003 and 2008 (Flade and Lachmann 2008). The species was put into agenda of the Conference of Parties for the CMS in November 2011, where a special resolution on African-Eurasian landbirds was adopted, which applies to Aquatic Warbler (U. Malashevich in litt. 2011).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Implement a monitoring programme in Russia. Protect key breeding sites and develop management plans. Promote protection of the species and its habitat in wintering areas and along the migration route. Ensure full legal protection.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Acrocephalus paludicola. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22714696A90413548. . Downloaded on 26 April 2017.
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