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Dupont's Lark Chersophilus duponti

This species has not been well studied across much of its range, but moderately rapid declines are known to have occurred in some areas and are suspected elsewhere. Consequently it is classified as Near Threatened (del Hoyo et al. 2004).

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.

Distribution and population
Chersophilus duponti has two subspecies: the nominate is found in Spain (mainly east Castilla y Leónand Aragón, also west Castilla y Leónnear Portugese border, east Castilla-La Mancha and south-east Andalucía), Morocco (mostly in north-east, east of Midelt and the river Moulouya, also recent records from south of Great Atlas) and north Algeria (Hauts Plateaux); margaritae is found in Algeria (south slopes of Atlas Mountains east to Biskra), south-east Tunisia, northern Libya and coastal west Egypt. It is sparsely distributed and uncommon in most areas of its relatively small and fragmented range. Currently in Europe, the species is only found in continental Spain, which hosts around 13% of the global population of the (Suárez et al. 2008). This Spanish population declined by more than 20% during 1970-1990 (Tucker and Heath 1994), but this rate of decline was thought to have slowed during 1990-2000 (BirdLife International 2004), with the total Spanish population estimated at 13,000-15,000 pairs following surveys in 1988 (Garza and Suárez 1990). However, the original survey may have dramatically overestimated the size of the Spanish population, which may have comprised as few as 1,900 pairs in 1988 (Garza et al. 2003). Based upon census data collected in 2004-2007, the population was accurately assessed as 3,500-4,200 singing males (Suárez and Garza 2007) with declines noted in most areas (Vicente et al. 2006). Taking into account that the sex ratio is approximately 0.61 (Suárez et al. 2009), these results would mean the existence of roughly 2,200-2,700 pairs. Some authors consider that the sex ratio is even more biased towards males (Tella et al., 2004; Vögeli et al., 2007) which would lead to an even smaller population estimate. In Morocco, the species has a scattered and uneven distribution, and is not recorded in large areas of apparently suitable habitat. Recent work in Morocco calculated the extent of occurrence at 11,000 km2 including an effective area of occupancy within suitable habitat of 1,645 km2 (García et al. in press). This area was estimated to support a population of 15,400 singing males (García et al. in press). The number of birds in eastern populations is not known, but it appears the global population numbers a minimum of 35,000 individuals and may be considerably higher than this. There is some evidence of a skewed sex ratio suggesting that the effective population size may be lower (Tella et al. 2004; Vögeli et al. 2007). As well as declines noted in Spain, habitat loss has been recorded within the Moroccan breeding range, but its impact and overall trends are not well understood. Further information on population size and trends from the remainder of its North African range is needed, and this may lead to the species's reclassification in the future.

Population justification
García et al. (in press) estimate 15,400 singing males in Morocco, and Suárez and Garza (2007) estimate 3,500-4,200 singing males or 2,200-2,700 pairs in Spain. As the species's range extends patchily across North Africa, the minimum global population is likely to be 36,000 individuals.

Trend justification
Negative trends have been recorded in Spain, with extinctions of local subpopulations occurring during the last two decades (Tella et al. 2005) and reduced numbers of individuals in extant populations. Habitat has been lost or degraded elsewhere in the species's range. Hence, declines of 20-30% are suspected but require additional data from North Africa for confirmation.

It typically occupies open plains, shrub-steppe and high steppe dotted with wormwood (Artemisia spp.) and alfalfa (Stipa spp.) on hard or pebbly soils, avoiding sand (Isenmann and Moali 2000; Thévenot et al. 2003; Isenmann et al. 2005). In Spain, it occurs in areas with low bushes. It also occurs in cereal fields outside the breeding season. It is found from 50-1,550 m but mainly over 1,000 m. It feeds on the ground on insects and seeds. Breeding takes place in March-July.

In parts of its range, overgrazing or undergrazing and agricultural development have caused a reduction in its preferred habitats and a considerable decrease in numbers (Isenmann et al. 2005; M. Smart in litt. 2004). Reforestation schemes also lead to a loss of suitable habitat and infrastructure development has led to fragmentation of habitat, particularly by the constriction and development of windfarms in Spain.The limited dispersal capabilities of the species reduce the exchange of individuals between populations and increases their extinction risk. Since gene flow between Iberian and African populations is extremely low (García et al. 2008 ) it is important that conservation plans for Iberian populations do not rely on the existence of the African populations of the same subspecies. A recent Spanish study has shown that the species' occurrence is principally determined by geographic isolation (extinction events were exclusively related to isolation), landscape matrix and patch size, rather than habitat quality (Vögeli et al. 2010). Isolation of local populations and reduced patch size has a compounding effect on population density since smaller populations suffer reduced singing repertoires which in turn reduce the rescuing from others (receiving immigrants), thus compromising population persistence (Laiolo and Tella 2008).

Conservation Actions Underway
An EU Species Action Plan was published in 2008 (Inigo et al. 2008). The species has been studied in Spain and Morocco and was included as "Endangered" in the Spanish Red Data Book. Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue monitoring Spanish and Moroccan populations. Adopt methods used in Spain and Morocco to survey populations elsewhere in North Africa. Determine appropriate levels of grazing to maintain habitat. Work with farmers and pastoralists to ensure that levels of grazing benefit the species.

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

Cramp, S. 1988. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic vol. V: tyrant flycatchers to thrushes. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

De Juana, E. and Suárez, F. 2004. Dupont’s lark Chersophilus duponti. In: En, J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott & D. Christie (ed.), Handbook of the Birds of the World., Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Christie, D. 2004. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 9: Cotingas to Pipits and Wagtails. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

García, J. T.; Suárez, F.; Garza, V.; Justribó, J. H.; Oñate, J. J.; Hervás, I.; Calero, M.; Morena, E. L. G. de la. 2008. Assessing the distribution, habitat, and population size of the threatened Dupont's Lark Chersophilus duponti in Morocco: lessons for conservation. Oryx 42(4): 592-599.

Garza, V.; Suárez, F. 1990. Distribution, population and habitat selection of Dupont's Lark Chersophilus duponti on the Iberian Peninsula. Ardeola 37: 3-12.

Garza, V.; Traba, J.; Suarez, F. 2003. Is the European population of Dupont's Lark Chersophilus duponti adequately estimated? Bird Study 50: 309-311.

Iñigo, A., V. Graza, J. L. Tella, P. Laiolo, F. Suárez and B. Barov. 2008. Action plan for the Dupont’s Lark Chersophilus duponti in the European Union. BirdLife International for the European Commission.

Isenmann, P.; Gaultier, T.; El Hili, A.; Azafzaf, H.; Dlensi, H.; Smart, M. 2005. Oiseaux de Tunisie - birds of Tunisia. SEOF Editions, Paris.

Isenmann, P.; Moali, A. 2000. Oiseaux d'Algérie - Birds of Algeria. Société d'Études Ornithologiques de France, Paris.

Laiolo, P.; Tella, J. L. 2008. Social determinants of songbird vocal activity and implications for the persistence of small populations. Animal Conservation 11(5): 433-441.

Suárez, F.; Fernández, A.; de Lope, M. J. 1986. Note sur les effects de l'aridité sur la structure et la composition des communautes de Passeriformes des hautes-plateaux a alpha (Stipa tenacissima) au Maroc. Bulletin de l'Institut Scientifique, Rabat 10: 185-192.

Suárez F., Hernández J., Oñate, J.J., Garza V., Hervás, I., Viñuela, J., Calero-Riestra M., García J.T. y Pérez-Tris J. 2008. La alondra ricotí en el Norte de África [Dupont's Lark in North Africa]. Quercus 263: 26-34 (In Spanish).

Suárez, F.; García, J. T.; Carriles, E.; Calero-Riestra, M.; Agirre, A.; Justribó, J. H.; Garza, V. 2009. Sex-ratios of an endangered lark after controlling for a male-biased sampling. Ardeola 56(1): 113-118.

Surez, F. y Garza, V. 2007. Surez, F. y Garza, V. 2007. Situación y problemtica de conservación de la alondra de Dupont en Espaa. Informe Final. Deparatamento de Ecología, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid-Ministerio de Medio Ambiente. Informe no puiblicado., Madrid.

Tella, J. L.; Carrete, M.; Serrano, D.; Vögeli, M. 2004. High male-biased sex-ratios in breeding populations of steppe passerines: demographic and conservation implications.

Tella, J. L.; Vögelli, M.; Serrano, D.; Carrete, M. 2005. Current status of the threatened Dupont's lark Chersophilus duponti in Spain: overestimation, decline, and extinction of local populations. Oryx 39: 90-94.

Thévenot, M.; Vernon, R.; Bergier, P. 2003. The birds of Morocco: an annotated checklist. British Ornithologists' Union, Tring, U.K.

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

Vicente, G.; Jesús, T. G.; Francisco, S. 2006. Population size and trends of the endangered Dupont's Lark in Europe. Journal of Ornithology 147(5): 267.

Vögeli, M.; Serrano, D.; Pacios, F.; Tella, J. L. 2010. The relative importance of patch habitat quality and landscape attributes on a declining steppe-bird metapopulation. Biological Conservation 143(5): 1057-1067.

Vögeli, M.; Serrano, D.; Tella, J. L.; Méndez, M.; Godoy, J. A. 2007. Sex determination of Dupont's Lark Chersophilus duponti using molecular sexing and discriminant functions. Ardeola 54(1): 69-79.

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

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
Bird, J., Butchart, S., Derhé, M., Ekstrom, J., Harding, M.

Isenmann, P., Smart, M., Vögeli, M.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Chersophilus duponti. Downloaded from on 20/12/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 20/12/2014.

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 Alaudidae (Larks)
Species name author (Vieillot, 1820)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 287,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species