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Pallas's Gull Larus ichthyaetus

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, the 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.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: _the_WP15.xls.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Distribution and population
Pallas's Gull breeds in a few very small, scattered localities from the Black Sea (Crimea, Ukraine), east to Lake Balkhash (Kazakhstan) and spottily to north-west Mongolia, possibly also in northern China (Gansu and Qinghai) and Tibet. It wingers on the coasts of the eastern Mediterranean, Red Sea, Gulf of Persia, south Capsian Sea and north Indian Ocean to Myanmar (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Trend justification
The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).

Behaviour This species is fully migratory, although many immatures over-summer in the winter range (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998, Olsen and Larsson 2003). The species begins to arrive in its breeding grounds from early-May; breeding from early-April in large colonies, usually of more than 10 pairs (often 150-300 [Snow and Perrins 1998] or exceptionally up to 3,000 pairs [del Hoyo et al. 1996]) sometimes near, but not with, Larus argentatus (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). It may also breed in single pairs, but never nests solitarily (it will always nest within a colony of other gull species) (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). Outside of the breeding season the species usually remains solitary or in small parties of 2-3 individuals (Urban et al. 1986), although it may roost gregariously, and will aggregate into large groups where fish are abundant (Snow and Perrins 1998). Habitat Breeding The species breeds on barren islands or islets in fresh and saline lakes, on inland seas in warm arid steppe, on rivers and river deltas where ample surface water is available, and on suitable mountain lakes up to 1,700 m (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998, Olsen and Larsson 2003). It nests in reedbeds, in shrubby vegetation or on bare flat surfaces (Snow and Perrins 1998). Non-breeding After breeding the species shifts to fish-rich sea-coasts (Snow and Perrins 1998, Olsen and Larsson 2003), wintering on beaches and in harbours (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998, Olsen and Larsson 2003). During this season it may also occur inland on beaches (Urban et al. 1986) of major rivers, lakes and reservoirs, or at fish ponds and refuse dumps (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998, Olsen and Larsson 2003). Diet The species is omnivorous although its diet is dominated by animal material (Snow and Perrins 1998). It chiefly feeds on fish (particularly dead fish), crustaceans, insects and small mammals, less often taking birds and their eggs, reptiles, and seeds (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). It often flies long distances from colonies in the breeding season to feed aerially on swarms of insects (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), follows fishing boats and scavenges in harbours (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest is a shallow depression positioned in the open on bare rock, among reeds or scrub vegetation (Snow and Perrins 1998), or on vegetated sand-dunes (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

This species is threatened by increasing predation from Larus cachinnans in its breeding range, and by nest predation by mammals (e.g. wild boar Sus scrofa) (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It is also still persecuted in some regions due to its depredation on commercial fish, and colonies are often subject to flooding following storms (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species is susceptible to avian influenza, so may be threatened by future outbreaks of this disease (Melville and Shortridge 2006).

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Melville, D. S.; Shortridge, K. F. 2006. Migratory waterbirds and avian influenza in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway with particular reference to the 2003-2004 H5N1 outbreak. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 432-438. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Olsen, K. M.; Larsson, H. 2004. Gulls of Europe, Asia and North America. Christopher Helm, London.

Snow, D. W.; Perrins, C. M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic vol. 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Urban, E. K.; Fry, C. H.; Keith, S. 1986. The birds of Africa vol. II. Academic Press, London.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Malpas, L., Calvert, R., Ekstrom, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Larus ichthyaetus. Downloaded from on 20/04/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 20/04/2014.

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.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Pallas’s gull (Larus ichthyaetus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Laridae (Gulls and terns)
Species name author Pallas, 1773
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 3,600,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species