|Scientific Name:||Larus argentatus|
|Species Authority:||Pontoppidan, 1763|
|Taxonomic Notes:||Larus cachinnans (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into L. cachinnans and L. michahellis; L. armenicus (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993; AERC TAC) has been lumped into L. michahellis. These changes to the BirdLife checklist follow examination by the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group (BTWG) of a recent review of large white-headed gulls in the Holarctic by Collinson et al. (2008) and associated literature referred to therein. The following species level treatment, shown with subspecific placements, has been adopted by the BTWG: L. fuscus (with intermedius, graellsii, heuglini, taimyrensis and barabensis); L. argentatus (with argenteus, smithsonianus, vegae and mongolicus); L. michahellis (with atlantis and armenicus) and L. cachinnans. This treatment is based on evidence of sympatry, and morphological and behavioural differences, but rejects further splits derived from phylogentic analyses based on mtDNA because Collinson et al. (2008) admit that (1) mtDNA lineages can disappear by random events, resulting in misplacements and displacements in phylogenies, and (2) hybridisation, which seems very widespread in these white-headed gulls, can result in "adoption" of mtDNA sequences by another taxon, completely obscuring the real situation. Collinson et al. (2008) explicitly state "these complications do not just make gull phylogenies difficult: they may cause entirely false conclusions to be drawn about species boundaries it must be recognised that splits or lumps based solely on mtDNA cannot be regarded as robust". While proposed splits not adopted here are not based solely on mtDNA, the morphological evidence presented is not conclusive, taxa are only diagnosable in some cases and there is hybridisation between them.|
|Red List Category & Criteria:||Least Concern ver 3.1|
|Reviewer/s:||Butchart, S. & Symes, A.|
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). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely 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.
|Range Description:||The Herring Gull breeds in most of Canada and Alaska, as well as the north-east USA, on the northern coastline of Europe including inland Iceland, Ireland, Scandinavia and the United Kingdom, and in the north of Russia from the centre to its eastern tip. Some populations winter further south, being found in much of the USA, Mexico and Central America, on the northern coasts of Spain and France, in much of Japan and on the south-eastern coast of China (del Hoyo et al. 1996).|
Native:Albania; Antigua and Barbuda; Aruba; Austria; Azerbaijan; Bahamas; Barbados; Belarus; Belgium; Belize; Bermuda; Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba; Bulgaria; Canada; Cayman Islands; China; Costa Rica; Croatia; Cuba; Curaçao; Czech Republic; Denmark; Djibouti; Dominica; Dominican Republic; El Salvador; Eritrea; Estonia; Faroe Islands; Finland; France; Germany; Gibraltar; Greece; Greenland; Guadeloupe; Guatemala; Haiti; Honduras; Hong Kong; Hungary; Iceland; India; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Kenya; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Latvia; Lithuania; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Martinique; Mexico; Mongolia; Montserrat; Myanmar; Nepal; Netherlands; Nicaragua; Norway; Pakistan; Panama; Poland; Portugal; Puerto Rico; Romania; Russian Federation; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Pierre and Miquelon; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Sint Maarten (Dutch part); Slovakia; Somalia; Spain; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Svalbard and Jan Mayen; Sweden; Switzerland; Taiwan, Province of China; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Trinidad and Tobago; Turks and Caicos Islands; Ukraine; United Kingdom; United States; Viet Nam; Virgin Islands, British; Virgin Islands, U.S.
Vagrant:Colombia; Cyprus; Ecuador; Egypt; Israel; Jamaica; Kazakhstan; Luxembourg; Malta; Moldova; Montenegro; Morocco; Northern Mariana Islands; Philippines; Serbia (Serbia); United States Minor Outlying Islands; Venezuela
Present - origin uncertain:Palau
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
|Population:||The population is estimated to number 2.7-5.7 million individuals, including totals for Larus heuglini.|
|Habitat and Ecology:||Behaviour Northern breeding populations of this species are migratory (del Hoyo et al. 1996) although populations in the south are nomadic or completely non-migratory (Flint et al. 1984). The species breeds between mid-April and late-June (Flint et al. 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1996) in colonies of up to several thousand pairs, occasionally nesting solitarily or as single pairs on the edge of other seabird colonies (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Outside of the breeding season the species is highly gregarious and gathers in large flocks in favoured sites (Richards 1990, Snow and Perrins 1998). Individuals show foraging site fidelity (Shamoun-Baranes and van Loon 2006). Habitat The species inhabits coastal and near-coastal areas (del Hoyo et al. 1996) but may also forage inland on large lakes and reservoirs, fields and refuse dumps (del Hoyo et al. 1996).It has no specific breeding habitat (del Hoyo et al. 1996) but may show a preference for rocky shores with cliffs, outlying stacks or islets (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), otherwise nesting on rocky and grassy islands, sandy beaches (del Hoyo et al. 1996), dunes (Richards 1990), gravel bars, saltmarshes, rocky outcrops, buildings, claypits (del Hoyo et al. 1996), tundra with reeds or hummocks (Flint et al. 1984), swampy lowlands near lakes and on river islands (Flint et al. 1984). When inland on migration the species also shows a preference for large river valleys (Flint et al. 1984). Diet The species has a highly opportunistic diet and will exploit almost any superabundant source of food (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It takes fish, earthworms, crabs and other marine invertebrates (e.g. molluscs, starfish or marine worms), adult birds, bird eggs and young, rodents, insects (e.g. ants), berries and tubers (e.g. turnips) (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It also scavenges at refuse dumps, fishing wharves and sewage outfall zones and frequently follows fishing boats (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Hiippop and Wurm 2000). Breeding site The nest is a depression in a mound of vegetation (Flint et al. 1984, Richards 1990) placed on the ground, e.g. on a cliff ledge or roof, usually in the shelter of vegetation (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Although Herring Gulls exploit refuse tips and farmland extensively all year round, their breeding distribution is extremely coastal compared to other Larus gulls (other than L. marinus) (Gibbons et al. 1991). Foraging range The species shows increasing foraging distances later in the breeding period (Belant et al. 1993). The feeding range has been variously reported as 35 km (for breeding herring gulls in a Dutch colony) (Spaans 1971), 41 km (in Westphalia, Germany, outside the breeding season) (Sell and Vogt 1986), 50 km (for breeding birds in Morocco) (Witt et al. 1981) and 70 to 100 km (for herring gulls breeding in Denmark) (Klein 1994). Several other studies have reported shorter foraging distances (Andersson 1970, Verbeek 1977, Witt et al. 1981, Sibly and McCleery 1983, Cramp and Simmons 1983, Nogales et al. 1995, Pons and Migot 1995, BirdLife International 2000). Refuse tips are frequently exploited by foraging individuals (Sibly and McCleery 1983, Nogales et al. 1995, Pons and Migot 1995) and so the feeding distribution of some colonies will be determined by location of refuse dumps (BirdLife International 2000). On the basis of a simple density model of birds at sea, it has been estimated that 95% of herring gulls breeding on Terschelling in the Dutch Wadden Sea foraged within 54 km of the colony (BirdLife International 2000). Radio-tracking of four gulls at an inland lake in Ontario indicated extreme specialisation in foraging patterns, with two of the gulls feeding within 1 km whereas two others took extended flights to destinations more than 30 km away (Morris and Black 1980, BirdLife International 2000).|
|Systems:||Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine|
|Major Threat(s):||The species is threatened by coastal oil pollution (Gorski et al. 1977) and is susceptible to avian influenza so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the virus (Melville and Shortridge 2006). Utilisation The species is hunted in Denmark (Bregnballe et al. 2006).|
Conservation Actions Underway
Preventative and control measures are frequently used against this species as it is regarded as a pest and a threat to many other colonial bird species (it usurps habitats and preys upon bird eggs and young), and also to airports (frequently causes collisions) (del Hoyo et al. 1996).
|Citation:||BirdLife International 2012. Larus argentatus. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 25 May 2013.|
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