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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, 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: 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.
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Distribution and population
This species has a large global population, including an estimated 4,000-7,000 pairs in Europe, in south-eastern European Russia, which accounts for less than a quarter of its global range (BirdLife International 2004a). 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 (Timothy Barabashin in litt. 2005). 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 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 (Evgeny Bragin and Todd 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 (Paul Donald in litt. 2005, Timothy Barabashin in litt. 2005). 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). In wintering areas in Uzbekistan, numbers are weather-dependent, but generally stable (unpublished expert communications to S. Sklyarenko 2005).

Population justification
In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 4,000-7,000 breeding pairs, equating to 12,000-21,000 individuals (BirdLife International 2004). However, europe forms only 5-24% of the global range. 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 (Timothy Barabashin in litt. 2005).

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, and over 50% during 1990-2000, as a result of steppe cultivation and overgrazing (BirdLife International 2004a, Tucker and Heath 1994). In the Volgograd Region (Russia and western Kazakhstan), there has been a steady decrease in the species' 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 (Evgeny Bragin and Todd 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, Paul Donald in litt. 2005).

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Melanocorypha yeltoniensis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 16/04/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 16/04/2014.

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.

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