Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica breeds from NE & E Canada and NE USA east through Greenland to Jan Mayen, Spitsbergen and Novaya Zemlya, and south to Iceland, Fennoscandia, Faroes, Britain, Ireland and NW France; it winters at sea, mostly in boreal waters south to New Jersey, Canary Island and W Mediterranean (Nettleship et al. 2014). It is currently listed as Least Concern, because when last assessed it was not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN Red List criteria.
Globally, it has an extremely large range in both the breeding season (>1.6 million km2) and in winter (>17 million km2), and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criteria (B and D2). Its population size is also extremely large (c. 12–14 million mature individuals; Harris & Wanless 2011; Berglund & Hentati-Sundberg 2014), and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criteria (C and D1). Therefore, the only potentially relevant criterion is A, which relates to reductions in population size. Until recently, the population was thought to be declining slowly, but not sufficiently rapidly to approach the threshold for listing as Vulnerable under criterion A (at least a 30% decline over ten years or three generations, whichever is longer).
New data collated from across Europe for the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International 2015) indicate that the species has declined significantly in recent years, and that this decline is ongoing. A combination of official data reported by 27 EU Member States to the European Commission under Article 12 of the EU Birds Directive and comparable data from other European countries, provided by BirdLife Partners and other leading national ornithologists, suggests that the European population has declined markedly since the end of the last century, and is currently estimated and projected to be declining overall at a rate of 50–79% over three generations (65 years, based on a generation length estimated by BirdLife to be 21.6 years). This large projected decline is driven largely by recent declines in Iceland and Norway, which together hold c. 80% of the European population, but there is also evidence that the third largest national population (in the UK) has probably declined since 2000 too (Harris and Wanless 2011). Consequently, the species is now classified as Endangered at European level under criterion A4 (BirdLife International 2015).
Based on the latest population estimates (Harris & Wanless 2011, Berglund & Hentati-Sundberg 2014), Europe holds >90% of the global population, so the projected declines in Europe are globally significant. No recent information about the overall trend of the West Atlantic population is available. Given the threats affecting the species in different parts of its range (e.g. Harris & Wanless 2011, Nettleship et al. 2014), the steep ongoing declines in Iceland (E. Hanssen in litt. 2014) and Norway (Fauchald et al. 2015), and projected future declines, this species appears to qualify for uplisting to globally Endangered under criterion A.
Comments on this proposal are welcome, along with any data regarding recent trends in other regions, and any additional information about the threats currently affecting this species across its range.
Berglund, P. A. & Hentati-Sundberg, J. (2014). Arctic Seabirds Breeding in the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) Area: Status and Trends 2014. AEWA Conservation Status Report (CSR6) background report. http://www.wetlands.org/Portals/0/PAB%20AEWA%20report%20review%202014.pdf
BirdLife International (2015) European Red List of Birds. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/info/euroredlist
Fauchald P, Anker-Nilssen T, Barrett RT, Bustnes JO, Bårdsen B-J, Christensen-Dalsgaard S, Descamps S, Engen S, Erikstad KE, Hanssen SA, Lorentsen S-H, Moe B, Reiertsen TK, Strøm H, Sys-tad GH (2015) The status and trends of seabirds breeding in Nor-way and Svalbard – NINA Report 1151. 84 pp. http://munin.uit.no/bitstream/handle/10037/7625/article.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
Nettleship, D.N., Kirwan, G.M., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (2014). Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2014). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. www.hbw.com