Archived 2016 topics: Rustic Bunting (Emberiza rustica) – uplist from Least Concern to Near Threatened or Vulnerable?

Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica breeds in swampy boreal forests from Fennoscandia east through Siberia to NE Asia, and winters mainly in E Asia (Copete & Garcia 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 (>11 million km2) and in winter (>2 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, with 1.4–1.7 million mature individuals in Europe alone (BirdLife International 2015), 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 breeding population has declined overall by 30–49% over the last three generations (10.8 years, based on a generation length estimated by BirdLife to be 3.6 years). This corresponds well with the declining trend reported by PECBMS (the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme), and with the decline across Scandinavia reported by Dale & Hansen (2013). Consequently, the species is now classified as Vulnerable at European level (BirdLife International 2015).

However, only around 20% of the species’ global breeding range occurs in Europe, so globally its status depends on trends in Asian Russia, especially in Siberia. The population in European Russia has declined by >30% since 2000 and by >50% since 1980 (BirdLife International 2015), so at least some decline east of the Urals also seems likely. Furthermore, the species has a similar migration route and wintering areas to the globally Endangered and rapidly declining Yellow-breasted Bunting E. aureola, and may also be trapped in China (Kamp et al. 2015).

If the species is now declining overall at a similar rate to what has been observed in Europe, then it may qualify for uplisting to Near Threatened or even Vulnerable under criterion A.

Comments on this proposal are welcome, along with any data regarding the recent trend of its breeding population in Asian Russia, and of its wintering population in China, Korea and Japan, along with any additional information about the threats currently affecting this species across its range.

References

BirdLife International (2015) European Red List of Birds. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/info/euroredlist

Copete, J.L. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2014). Rustic Bunting (Emberiza rustica). 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

Dale, S. & Hansen, K. (2013) Population decline in the rustic bunting Emberiza rustica in Norway. Ornis Fennica 90: 193–202.

Kamp, J., Oppel, S., Ananin, A. A., Durnev, Y. A., Gashev, S. N., Hölzel, N., et al. (2015). Global population collapse in a superabundant migratory bird and illegal trapping in China. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12537

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5 Responses to Archived 2016 topics: Rustic Bunting (Emberiza rustica) – uplist from Least Concern to Near Threatened or Vulnerable?

  1. Andy Symes (BirdLife) says:

    Raimo Virkkala of the Finnish Environment Institute has provided the following comment:
    “..the uplisting of many other species of which I have knowledge or census data is well-founded and acknowledged here. These include e.g. Common Pochard Aythya ferina, Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis, Redwing Turdus iliacus and Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica.”

  2. Andy Symes (BirdLife) says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2015 Red List would be to pend the decision on Rustic Bunting and keep this discussion open until 2016, while leaving the current Red List category unchanged in the 2015 update.

    Information from Asia is needed before the global status can be resolved.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 31 August, after which recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    The final Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife website in late October and on the IUCN website in November, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  3. Andy Symes (BirdLife) says:

    Recommended categorisation to be put forward to IUCN

    Following further review, there have been no changes to our preliminary proposal for the 2015 Red List status of this species.

    The final categorisation will be published on the BirdLife website in late October and on the IUCN website in November, following further checking of information relevant to the assessment by BirdLife and IUCN.

  4. Andy Symes (BirdLife) says:

    LARS EDENIUS, CHANG-YONG CHOI, WIELAND HEIM, TUOMO JAAKKONEN, ADRIAAN DE JONG, KIYOAKI OZAKI and JEAN-MICHEL ROBERGE The next common and widespread bunting to go? Global population decline in the Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica. Bird Conservation International, Available on CJO 2016 doi:10.1017/S0959270916000046

    Summary:
    Populations of several long-distance migratory songbirds in Eurasia are in peril, drastically illustrated by the recent range-wide population collapse in the Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola . There are signals of a strong decline also in the Rustic Bunting E. rustica , but no range-wide assessment of population trends in this superabundant and widespread bunting species has yet been undertaken. The conservation status of Rustic Bunting is ‘Least Concern’ on the global IUCN Red List, but it has recently been upgraded to ‘Vulnerable’ on the European Red List. To assess the Rustic Bunting’s global conservation status we compiled, for the first time, population data across its breeding and wintering ranges. The analysis reveals a 75–87% decline in overall population size over the last 30 years and a 32–91% decline over the last 10 years. The trend estimates indicate that the long-term (30-year) range-wide population decline in the Rustic Bunting is of similar magnitude to two well-known examples of declining species within the same genus, the Yellow-breasted Bunting and the Ortolan Bunting E. hortulana . The magnitude of the range-wide population decline over the last 10 years suggests that the Rustic Bunting could be upgraded from ‘Least Concern’ to ‘Vulnerable’ or ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN global Red List. Agricultural intensification in the wintering range and intensified levels of disturbance, including logging and fire, in the breeding range could be important drivers of the range-wide population decline, and persecution could also contribute. Untangling threat factors and their interactions on Rustic Bunting is necessary for conservation, but hampered by our currently limited understanding of the relationships between population dynamics and different threats.

  5. James Westrip (BirdLife) says:

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2016 Red List would be to list this species as Vulnerable under criteria A2abcd+3bcd+4abcd.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 28 October, after which the recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    Please note that we will then only post final recommended categorisations on forum discussions where these differ from the initial proposal.

    The final 2016 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in early December, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN

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