email a friend
printable version
LC
Black Lark Melanocorypha yeltoniensis

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.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: #http://www.aerc.eu/DOCS/Bird_taxa_of _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.

Distribution and population
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).

Population justification
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).

Threats
The species is threatened by the loss of steppe to cultivation and livestock farming (del Hoyo et al. 2004).

References
Alström, P. 2004. Black Lark (Melanocorypha yeltoniensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. and de Juana, E. (eds), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

BirdLife International. 2004. Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

BirdLife International. 2015. European Red List of Birds. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Lindeman, G.V.; Lopushkov, V. A. 2004. Long-term population dynamics of larks in clay semi-deserts of the area east of the Volga River. Ornitologiya 31: 114-122.

Tucker, G.M. and Heath, M.F. 1994. Birds in Europe: their conservation status. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Further web sources of information
Detailed regional assessment and species account from the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International, 2015)

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

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J. & Pilgrim, J.

Contributors
Kamp, J., Donald, P., Bragin, E., Barabashin, T., Mosejikin, V. & Katzner, T.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Melanocorypha yeltoniensis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 14/02/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 14/02/2016.

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 Least Concern
Family Alaudidae (Larks)
Species name author (Forster, 1767)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 2,090,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment