email a friend
printable version
NT
Black Scoter Melanitta americana

IUCN Red List Criteria

Near Threatened (criteria nearly met) A2bce+3bce+4bce 

IUCN Red List history

Year Category
2013 Near Threatened
2012 Near Threatened
2010 Under Review

Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type   Average mass -

Distribution

  Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 3,670,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 1,330,000 medium
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -

Population & trend

  Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 350000-560000 poor Estimated 0
Population trend Decreasing -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Largest subpopulation - - -
Population justification: The total population is estimated to number c.530,000-830,000 individuals (Delany and Scott 2006), probably including c.350,000-560,000 mature individuals, on the basis that they probably account for around 2/3 of the population.
Trend justification: This species is thought to be declining in western Alaska and to be stable on the Arctic coastal plain (per Sea Duck Joint Venture 2003). Numbers also appear to be declining in the Atlantic flyway, whereas no statistically significant population trend is apparent in the results of a fixed-wing aerial survey covering the Atlantic coast for the period 1991-1999 (Sea Duck Joint Venture 2003). Data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Canadian Wildlife Service breeding waterfowl survey indicate that the combined population of all three scoter species along survey transects in the western boreal forest may have declined by as much as 75% since the 1950s (Sea Duck Joint Venture 2003). Estimates from a relatively new survey indicate that the breeding population in western Alaska is currently c.160,000 birds and appears to have increased slightly since the survey was initiated in 2004 (R. Stehn per T. Bowman in litt. 2012). Mid-winter inventory data do not indicate any trends on the Pacific coast and only weakly show a decline on the Atlantic coast. However, these surveys are said to track scoter populations poorly and all three species are combined in one count (Sea Duck Joint Venture 2003). An analysis of Christmas Bird Count (CBC) data overall indicates an annual change of -1.26% between 1965-1966 and 2005-2006 across about half of the species’s range in North America (Butcher and Niven 2007), equating to a 40-year decline of c.50%, and thus suggestive of a c.32% decline over the last three generations, estimated to be 23 years, based on a generation length of c.7.5 years (BirdLife International unpubl. data), and the assumption of an exponential trend. However, CBC data are probably unreliable for tracking trends in this species because it winters predominantly offshore, where a large proportion of birds may not be visible to shore-based observers. Trends are apparently uncertain in far north-east Asia, where the species occurs east of Lena and numbers an estimated 300,000-500,000 birds or 12-24% of the estimated global population (see Delany and Scott 2006), thus more research is required. Limited data and anecdotal evidence from South Korea suggests that the species has declined substantially as a wintering species since the 1960s and 1970s (N. Moores in litt. 2012). On the basis of this mixed evidence, the population is suspected to be undergoing a moderately rapid decline (i.e. 20-29% over three generations).

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage Resident
Canada Native Extant     Yes  
China (mainland) Native Extant        
Japan Native Extant        
Mexico Native Extant        
North Korea Native Extant        
South Korea Native Extant        
St Pierre and Miquelon (to France) Native Extant   Yes Yes  
USA Native Extant Yes      

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Denmark Rønne Banke site factsheet
USA Kachemak Bay site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud major non-breeding
Shrubland Boreal suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Tundra Wetlands (incl. pools and temporary waters from snowmelt) major breeding
Altitude 0 - 0 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact

Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Biological resource use Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources / Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest] Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Decline Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Indirect ecosystem effects, Ecosystem degradation
Climate change & severe weather Habitat shifting & alteration Timing Scope Severity Impact
Future Whole (>90%) Unknown Unknown
Stresses
Indirect ecosystem effects, Ecosystem degradation
Energy production & mining Oil & gas drilling Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Decline Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Species disturbance, Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Viral/prion-induced diseases / Unspecified species Timing Scope Severity Impact
Future Majority (50-90%) Rapid Declines Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality
Pollution Agricultural & forestry effluents / Nutrient loads Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation
Pollution Industrial & military effluents / Oil spills Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Decline Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality
Transportation & service corridors Shipping lanes Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Species disturbance

Utilisation

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild International
Sport Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Melanitta americana. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/08/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/08/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, Swans)
Species name author (Swainson, 1832)
Population size 350000-560000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 3,670,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species