This discussion was first published as part of the 2013 Red List update, but remains open for comment to enable reassessment in 2014.
Grey-tailed Tattler Heteroscelus brevipes is currently listed as Least Concern because it was not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN Red List criteria. Although Wetlands International previously considered the population trend to be unknown, it was suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats (del Hoyo et al. 1996).
100% of the global population of this species is found in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF); breeding in central and east Siberia and wintering in Indonesia, Philippines, New Guinea and Australia. The population is currently estimated to be 44,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2013). However, recent evidence suggests that it declined between 1987-2011 (Wetlands International 2013), and it is currently listed as Near Threatened on the Action Plan for Australian Birds (2010), due to an estimated overall decline of 20-29% in Australia over the last three generations (25 years), despite some variability in rates and trends (Garnett et al. 2011). At one key wintering site, Eighty Mile Beach in Western Australia, surveys in December 2008 found 7,950 birds, a decline of c.46% since surveys in 1999 and 2001 (Garnett et al. 2011, MacKinnon et al. 2012). Numbers migrating through Japan in autumn have declined since 1978, and by 57% between c.1983-c.2007 (Amano et al. 2010). Loss and degradation of wetlands (including pollution, reclamation, urban and industrial expansion), disturbance and hunting form the main threats at stopover sites and on the wintering grounds (Garnett et al. 2011).
If past and ongoing declines in the global population of this species are suspected to approach 30% over three generations (25 years using BirdLife International unpublished data), and similar rates are suspected in the future, it would warrant uplisting to Near Threatened under criterion A2ac+3ac+4ac.
Comments on the population trends and severity of threats to this species throughout its range are welcome.
Amano, T., Szekely, T., Koyama, K., Amano, H. and Sutherland, W. J. (2010) A framework for monitoring the status of populations: an example from wader populations in the East Asian-Australasian flyway. Biological Conservation 143: 2238-2247.
del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1996) Handbook of the birds of the world, Vol 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions.
Garnett, S. T., Szabo, J. K. and Dutson, G. (2011) The action plan for Australian Birds. CSIRO Publishing: Australia.
MacKinnon, J., Verkuil, Y. I. & Murray, N. (2012) IUCN situation analysis on East and Southeast Asian intertidal habitats, with particular reference to the Yellow Sea (including the Bohai Sea). Occasional Paper of the IUCN Species Survival Commission No. 47. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. ii + 70 pp.
Wetlands International (2013). “Waterbird Population Estimates”. Retrieved from wpe.wetlands.org on Monday 18 March 2013.
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