Acrocephalus paludicola


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Acrocephalus paludicola
Species Authority: (Vieillot, 1817)
Common Name(s):
English Aquatic Warbler
French Phragmite aquatique

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2c ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2013-11-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
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.
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 decline in the central-European core population has recently been stopped owing to intensive management and conservation projects, but 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.

2012 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Acrocephalus paludicola breeds across a highly fragmented range at fewer than 50 regular breeding sites in the following countries, with numbers given of singing males between 2002 and 2011: Poland, 2,670-3,850; Belarus, 3,940-6,300; Ukraine, 2,000-4,600; Germany, fewer than 25, and Lithuania, 110-309 (M. Flade and L. Lachmann in litt. 2007, U. Malashevich in litt. 2012). 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, and the total population is estimated at 12,100-14,700 singing males. 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. 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).

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
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: 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.
For further information about this species, see 22714696_acrocephalus_paludicola.pdf.
A PDF viewer such as Adobe Reader is required.
Population Trend: Decreasing

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

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. 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 2013. Acrocephalus paludicola. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 05 September 2015.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided