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Melanocorypha yeltoniensis 

Scope: Global
Language: English
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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Alaudidae

Scientific Name: Melanocorypha yeltoniensis
Species Authority: (Forster, 1767)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Black Lark
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.

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.
Contributor(s): Kamp, J., Donald, P., Bragin, E., Barabashin, T., Mosejikin, V. & Katzner, T.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J. & Pilgrim, J.
Justification:
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 and has decreased very rapidly within Europe, the overall population 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:This species breeds in south-west Russia and northern Kazakhstan, and winters south to the Black Sea, Caucasus, northern Iran and southern Central Asia (Alström 2004). Less than 10% of the species's global range occurs in Europe, with an estimated 50-100 pairs remaining (BirdLife International 2015). Previous estimates for European Russia suggested a population of 4,000-7,000 pairs (BirdLife International 2004) indicating the extent of the species's decline within Europe. Populations in the most suitable habitat in central Kazakhstan have been estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands, and maybe even millions of breeding pairs (T. Barabashin in litt. 2005) and this is still thought to be the case (J. Kamp in litt. 2015).

Interpretation of the limited available information on population trends is complicated by the species's nomadic nature and large interannual fluctuations in abundance and distribution. The European population declined by 20-50% during 1970-1990, and over 50% during 1990-2000, as a result of steppe cultivation and overgrazing (Tucker and Heath 1994, BirdLife International 2004a). In European Russia it has declined by more than 99% since 2000 alone (BirdLife International 2015). In the Volgograd Region (Russia and western Kazakhstan), there has been a steady decrease in the species's numbers from the mid-1960s to 2000 (Lindeman and Lopushkov 2004).

Spring surveys in the Uzen Limans area (western Kazakhstan) revealed declines exceeding 99% between 1985 and 1995 (V. Mosejikin in litt. 2005). In parts of the Kostanay region (northern Kazakhstan), where the species was once widespread and numerous, its distribution and abundance have decreased noticeably over the past 25 years, and in 2005 large numbers were seen in only two areas (E. Bragin and T. Katzner in litt. 2005). However, in other areas of north-central Kazakhstan, the species was relatively common in 2005, especially in the taller steppe vegetation (T. Barabashin in litt. 2005, P. Donald in litt. 2005). Between 2008 and 2015, moderate local declines are suspected to have taken place in Kazakhstan owing to agricultural reclamation, however data to confirm this is limited (J. Kamp in litt. 2015). It can reach high densities in some areas but be absent from apparently similar neighbouring areas (J. Kamp in litt. 2015). In summary, in Kazakhstan, the species appears to have a relatively stable population and is common in suitable habitats (although not dispersed evenly, with empty areas) (unpublished expert communications to S. Sklyarenko 2005, J. Kamp in litt. 2015). In wintering areas in Uzbekistan, numbers are weather-dependent, but generally stable (unpublished expert communications to S. Sklyarenko 2005).
Countries occurrence:
Native:
Armenia (Armenia); Azerbaijan; Georgia; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Kazakhstan; Kyrgyzstan; Moldova; Russian Federation; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; Uzbekistan
Vagrant:
Austria; Belgium; Bulgaria; Finland; Germany; Greece; Italy; Lebanon; Malta; Mongolia; Poland; Sweden
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:2420000
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
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Populations in the most suitable habitat in central Kazakhstan have been estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands, and maybe even millions of breeding pairs (T. Barabashin in litt. 2005) and this is still thought to be the case (J. Kamp in litt. 2015). In Europe, which represents less than 10% of the global breeding range, the population is estimated to number just 50-100 breeding pairs (BirdLife International 2015).

Trend Justification:  The population is estimated to be in decline following apparent regional declines, probably owing to the loss of steppe to cultivation and livestock farming (del Hoyo et al. 2004). The European population declined by 20-50% during 1970-1990, over 50% during 1990-2000 and more than 99% since 2000 as a result of steppe cultivation and overgrazing (Tucker and Heath 1994, BirdLife International 2004a, 2015). In the Volgograd Region (Russia and western Kazakhstan), there has been a steady decrease in the species's numbers from the mid-1960s to 2000 (Lindeman and Lopushkov 2004). Spring surveys in the Uzen Limans area (western Kazakhstan) revealed declines exceeding 99% between 1985 and 1995 (V. Mosejikin in litt. 2005). In parts of the Kostanay region (northern Kazakhstan), where the species was once widespread and numerous, its distribution and abundance have decreased noticeably over the past 25 years, and in 2005 large numbers were seen in only two areas (E. Bragin and T. Katzner in litt. 2005).

However, in other areas of north-central Kazakhstan, the species was relatively common in 2005, especially in the taller steppe vegetation (BirdLife International 2004a, P. Donald in litt. 2005). Between 2008 and 2015, moderate local declines are suspected to have taken place in Kazakhstan however overall the population in Kazakhstan is thought to have been stable or experiencing slight declines since 2005 (J. Kamp in litt. 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:This species frequents dry grassland dominated by Artemisia, Stipa and Festuca plants, preferably with some bushes and often in wet patches. It is also found on patches of such habitat in saline semi-desert (Alström 2016). The breeding season begins in late-March and ends in August, but starts a month later in the north than the south. The male performs a spectacular aerial display to attract a mate. Females build the nest in a depression in the ground, usually under a tuft of grass or plant. It is made from Artemisia or grass and lined with finer grass. Clutch size is typically four or five, however can be between two and eight eggs. The diet consists principally of invertebrates and seeds. Reports differ as to whether more seeds or invertebrates are consumed during the summer, however in the winter it is known to feed exclusively on seeds, digging through the snow to reach them. The species is a partial migrant with some individuals remaining in nomadic flocks through the winter (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997, Alström 2016).
Systems:Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):3.8
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species is threatened by the loss of steppe to cultivation and livestock farming (del Hoyo et al. 2004, Alström 2016). Livestock also pose a threat through trampling (Tucker and Heath 1994).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix II. The destruction of remaining grassland habitat by cultivation or overgrazing has been prevented in some areas of eastern Europe, but these areas will take some years to regenerate (Tucker and Heath 1994).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Dry grassland areas need to be protected both through nature reserves and with the aid of broader land-use policies (Tucker and Heath 1994).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Melanocorypha yeltoniensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22717301A90011765. . Downloaded on 24 April 2017.
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