Sylvia undata


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Sylvia undata
Species Authority: (Boddaert, 1783)
Common Name(s):
English Dartford Warbler
Taxonomic Notes:

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Encalado, J., Escandell, V., Herrando, S., Iñigo, A. & Wotton, S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Butchart, S., Derhé, M., Ekstrom, J., Mahood, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J.
This species is declining at a moderately rapid rate, qualifying the species as Near Threatened. Declines in the core population in Spain are largely responsible for overall declines. The drivers of this decline are not entirely clear but include habitat degradation and modification. Should the population be found to be declining more rapidly, the species would warrant uplisting to a higher threat category.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Sylvia undata is restricted to southern and western Europe and north-west Africa, where it is patchily distributed but locally common to very common in Spain (including Balearic Islands), Portugal, Andorra, Morocco. Algeria, Tunisia, France (including Corsica), United Kingdom and Italy (including Sardinia) (del Hoyo et al. 2006). The European breeding population, which constitutes more than 95% of the global population, underwent a large decline during 1970-1990 (Tucker and Heath 1994). The stronghold is located in Spain which holds 983,000-1,750,000 pairs (V. Escandell in litt. 2009), but the population here decreased by 4.6 % per year between 1998-2011 (V. Escandell in litt. 2012). France holds the next largest population (150,000-600,000 pairs) but the trend here is unclear. Trends are unknown in Portugal (10,000-100,000 pairs), Italy (10,000-30,000 pairs) and Andorra (c.20-30 pairs) (BirdLife International 2004). In the UK it has recently increased rapidly and extended its range northwards, reaching a total of 3,214 territories in 2006 (Wotton et al. 2009). If trends in Spain are reflected elsewhere in Europe, the European breeding population may have declined nearly 30% over the last 12.3 years (three generations).

Algeria; Andorra; France; Gibraltar; Italy; Malta; Morocco; Portugal; Spain; Tunisia; United Kingdom
Belgium; Croatia; Czech Republic; Germany; Greece; Ireland; Libya; Montenegro; Netherlands; Serbia (Serbia); Sweden; Switzerland; Turkey
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: In Europe (which covers more than 95% of the breeding range), the breeding population is estimated to be 1.1-2.5 million breeding pairs, based on 983,000-1,750,000 pairs in Spain (V. Escandell in litt. 2009), 150,000-600,000 pairs in France, 10,000-100,000 pairs in Portugal, 10,000-30,000 pairs in Italy, c.20-30 pairs in Andorra (BirdLife International 2004) and 3,214 territories in the United Kingdom (Wotton et al. 2009). This equates to 3.3-7.5 million individuals.
For further information about this species, see 22716984_sylvia_undata.pdf.
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Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It favours dense, homogeneous scrub, garrigue and low maquis c.0.5-1.5 m in height and dominated by species such as Ulex, Erica, Rosmarinus, Genista, Cistus and Quercus coccifera (del Hoyo et al. 2006). It is largely sedentary but undertakes some short-distance dispersive movements and some European birds spend the non-breeding season in north-west Africa (del Hoyo et al. 2006). It is primarily a lowland species in the north of its range but occurs to 1,800-2,000 m in the Pyrenees and north-west Africa (del Hoyo et al. 2006).

Systems: Terrestrial; Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Reasons for the recent Spanish decline are still unclear. It is vulnerable to severe winters, particularly in the northern part of its range (del Hoyo et al. 2006). Cold spells in December 2001 and the winter of 2004-2005 caused high mortality in Spain (J. J. R. Encalado in litt. 2007), while the UK population was reduced to 11 pairs after the severe winter of 1962-1963 (del Hoyo et al. 2006). Increasing densities of cattle on the Spanish dehesa are causing severe habitat degradation through overgrazing (J. J. R. Encalado in litt. 2007), which may be affecting the species. Afforestation has decreased the amount of suitable habitat in parts of France and Iberia (Shirihai et al. 2001). Changes in the pattern and frequency of wildfires may be a threat, although the species often colonises early successional habitat created by such fires (del Hoyo et al. 2006). Postfire forest management can negatively affect the species through the removal of burnt trees as the species has been shown to favour a moderate coverage of logging remnants after fires (Herrando et al. 2009).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Population trends are monitored in parts of the species's range and it occurs in a number of protected areas.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out specific research on drivers of declines, particularly the link with habitats. Research trends elsewhere within its range, particularly France and North Africa. Develop programmes which subsidise farming practices which promote healthy populations of the species.

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Sylvia undata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 03 September 2015.
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