Project

Bird status and conservation in Europe & in French overseas dependencies

Goal: Valorisation of studies on bird status and conservation in France (Metropolitan & overseas dependencies) to international initiatives

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Le Râle des genêts est une espèce menacée en Europe et au niveau mondial. Il est classé « Presque menacé » au niveau mondial selon les critères de menaces de l’UICN. En France, il a subi un déclin depuis le début du siècle. Les enquêtes nationales et les suivis sur les sites ont montré que ce déclin s’est accentué ces vingt dernières années. La disparition des habitats favorables est la cause principale de la réduction des effectifs et du morcellement de la distribution des populations de Râle. Elle est provoquée par la mise en culture des vallées alluviales, l’abandon des prairies de fauche et la plantation de peupliers. L’évolution de la gestion des prairies de fauche (modernisation des techniques de fauche, développement de l'ensilage) constitue un facteur aggravant. Il en résulte que l’espèce compte parmi les oiseaux nicheurs les plus menacés du pays. Cela a justifié la mise en place de mesures de protection dans un certain nombre de sites. Cette première partie du plan de restauration fait la synthèse des données relatives à la biologie de l’espèce, à exploiter pour sa sauvegarde. L’accent est porté sur les différences régionales pour ce qui concerne les conditions de milieu, mais également sur les nombreuses lacunes qui persistent dans la connaissance de l’écologie du Râle. Un bilan des actions de conservation déjà réalisées est effectué. Il en ressort que les mesures de conservation réglementaires des sites (RN, ZPS,…) sont insuffisantes et ne protègent pas efficacement l’espèce et son habitat. La gestion contractuelle, qui complète les désignations, a quant à elle, donné de bons résultats, mais tend à disparaître, en raison d’un manque de renouvellement des mesures agri-environnementales. Il est urgent d’envisager une poursuite de ces dernières et de prévoir leur pérennisation.
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Wader Study Group Bulletin 119 (2012): 17-25 The two subspecies of the Red Knot Calidris canutus that occur in Europe during northward and southward migration, islandica and canutus, are only observed simultaneously at a few sites such as the Wadden Sea. Mostly islandica winters on estuarine bays in NW Europe, while canutus go to wintering grounds in W or S Africa. The coasts of France have been described as the main southern limit of the winter distribution of islandica and as providing stopover sites for canutus migrating between the W African coast and breeding grounds in Siberia. Nevertheless, the role and the importance of French sites remain unclear for both subspecies, especially during southward migration. This study updates information on the numbers and the distribution of Red Knots staging or wintering along the coasts of France using International Waterbird Census (IWC) data (counts carried out in Jan, 1976–2010, organised by Wetlands International) and synchronized monthly counts carried out in France’s National Nature Reserves during 2000–2010. In recent years, France has supported around 9% (c. 35,000 individuals) of the estimated population of islandica in mid-winter. Ninety percent of these birds are concentrated in just six bays, two along the Channel coast and four along coasts of Vendée and Charente-maritime. As intertidal areas are limited along the Mediterranean shore, it does not support Red Knots in winter. Numbers of islandica peak in mid-winter, but significant passage of canutus occurs in May on the central Atlantic coast. Patterns of autumn migration remain unclear and information on occurrence of both subspecies is lacking. Long term trends in site use differ from place to place; this is probably an indication that they are used by birds of different origin and age.
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Since 1994, the rare and endangered breeding bird survey attends to centralize and publish results of national monitoring schemes of some 70 species for which recent population dynamics are known. Some of them are new breeders to France with increasing populations and others are either confined or rare breeding birds. Two new species – Whooper Swan and White-tailed Eagle – have been added to the rare French breeding bird list in 2012 while four – Common Eider, Ruff, White-winged Black Tern and Arctic Tern – were not reported in 2012. The year 2012 had been marked by severe winter and cold, wet spring episodes resulting in poor breeding success for species such as Purple Swamphen, Great Bittern, Black Tern and Mew Gull. However most species showed stable (49 %) or increasing (12 %) trends to link with specific conservation measures promoted by actions plans (SAPs, Life…) or local site protection and management (Nature reserves, Natura 2000 network…). Glossy Ibis and Black-winged Kite continue to show a strong progression unlike Roseate Tern or Common Snipe which continue to decline at high rates.
Private Profile
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Seabirds are increasingly threatened worldwide, with population declines for many species that are faster than in any other group of birds. Here the Important Bird Area (IBA) criteria recommended by BirdLife International were applied to a large tracking dataset collected from a range of seabirds, to identify areas of importance at an ocean basin scale. Key areas were identified using tracks obtained from both the breeding and non-breeding periods of 10 species that have different habitat requirements. These species range in their IUCN threat status from Least Concern to Critically Endangered. An evaluation of spatial overlap between the key areas for these species and the jurisdiction of Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs), national Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and other stakeholder bodies highlighted the major importance of the French EEZs (around Crozet, Kerguelen and Amsterdam Islands) for seabird conservation. The majority of the candidate marine IBAs that were identified were located in the High Seas, where Marine Protected Areas cannot easily be designated under existing international agreements, except in the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources Convention Area. In the short term, it seems that only fisheries regulations (through international agreements) can bring about efficient protection for seabirds in the High Seas. The BirdLife IBA approach, although sensitive to heterogeneity in the data (species selected, inclusion of different life stages, years etc.), proved valuable for selecting important areas corresponding to large-scale oceanographic structures that are considered to be key foraging habitats for many species.
With the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) as pilot, a group of over 100 scientists and experts participated in the national bird reporting process, gathering and validating information on more than 300 bird species including 295 breeding taxa. Over 650 distinct references have been entered in the data base. Data from ongoing projects such as the national atlas of breeding birds 2009-2012 have been made available for the reporting process, leading to new insights into bird population estimates and range shifts. The national bird population has been estimated between 66 and 124 millions of breeding pairs. Long term trends results include 89 breeding taxa in decline (30%), 97 increasing (33%), 41 stable (14%), 14 fluctuating (5%) and 53 unknown (18%). Population trends and distribution trends prove to be positively correlated, and we have tried to explain why a few colonial or sometimes territorial species seem to show inverted trends for these parameters. Main drivers of change are discussed including Special Protection Areas designation, nature protection laws (1976) and protected areas but also agricultural policies. Patterns of long-term trends include a high percentage of rather widespread species in decline while localized species fare better. A few southern species show strong increases while there is some concern about the future of more northerly species, many of which seem to decline both in numbers and range. Trend analysis confirms the growing concern about long-distance migrants in the long-term, but the situation is not so clear when analyzing passerines as a separate group, nor when analyzing short-term trends. Data quality, knowledge gaps and future improvements are discussed.
The Rare and Endangered Breeding Bird Survey attends to centralizing and publishing results of the national monitoring schemes of some 70 species for which recent population dynamics are known. Some of them are new breeders in France with increasing populations and others are either confined, rare, threatened, or endangered breeding birds. This 2013 report presents new breeding number estimates of Little Bittern and Thekla Lark which confirmed declines for both of these threatened populations, for the former probably linked to bad conditions during the non breeding period in Africa, and for the localised population of the latter, with direct habitat closure. A first estimate of breeding population numbers of Spotted Crake in France was also presented to clarify the status of this species categorised as “Data deficient” in the national Red List. The breeding season of the surveyed species is linked to bad weather conditions during the spring (high rainfall and temperatures far below normal levels) which were detrimental for the breeding parameters of numerous species (Corncrake, Black Stork, Egyptian Vulture in Pyrenees, etc.). In contrast, breeding conditions were quite good for Common Murre, Razorbill and Atlantic Puffin in Brittany; furthermore the 3 species of crakes benefited from the high water levels as did the Great Bittern.
Private Profile
added 2 research items
With the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) as pilot, a group of over 100 scientists and experts participated in the national bird reporting process, gathering and validating information on more than 300 bird species including 295 breeding taxa. Over 650 distinct references have been entered in the data base. Data from ongoing projects such as the national atlas of breeding birds 2009-2012 have been made available for the reporting process, leading to new insights into bird population estimates and range shifts. The national bird population has been estimated between 66 and 124 millions of breeding pairs. Long term trends results include 89 breeding taxa in decline (30%), 97 increasing (33%), 41 stable (14%), 14 fluctuating (5%) and 53 unknown (18%). Population trends and distribution trends prove to be positively correlated, and we have tried to explain why a few colonial or sometimes territorial species seem to show inverted trends for these parameters. Main drivers of change are discussed including Special Protection Areas designation, nature protection laws (1976) and protected areas but also agricultural policies. Patterns of long-term trends include a high percentage of rather widespread species in decline while localized species fare better. A few southern species show strong increases while there is some concern about the future of more northerly species, many of which seem to decline both in numbers and range. Trend analysis confirms the growing concern about long-distance migrants in the long-term, but the situation is not so clear when analyzing passerines as a separate group, nor when analyzing short-term trends. Data quality, knowledge gaps and future improvements are discussed.
Status and trends of breeding bird populations in France: summary review of the first national reporting under the Birds Directive. With the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) as pilot, a group of over 100 scientists and experts participated in the national bird reporting process, gathering and validating information on more than 300 bird species including 295 breeding taxa. Over 650 distinct references have been entered in the data base. Data from ongoing projects such as the national atlas of breeding birds 2009-2012 have been made available for the reporting process, leading to new insights into bird population estimates and range shifts. The national bird population has been estimated between 66 and 124 millions of breeding pairs. Long term trends results include 89 breeding taxa in decline (30%), 97 increasing (33%), 41 stable (14%), 14 fluctuating (5%) and 53 unknown (18%). Population trends and distribution trends prove to be positively correlated and we have tried to explain why a few colonial or sometimes territorial species seem to show inverted trends for these parameters. Main drivers of change are discussed including Special Protection Areas designation, nature protection laws (1976) and protected areas but also agricultural policies. Patterns of long-term trends include a high percentage of rather widespread species in decline while localized species fare better. A few southern species show strong increases while there is some concern about the future of more northerly species, many of which seem to decline both in numbers and range. Trend analysis confirms the growing concern about long-distance migrants in the long-term, but the situation is not so clear when analyzing passerines as a separate group, nor when analyzing short-term trends. Data quality, knowledge gaps and future improvements are discussed.
Private Profile
added 2 research items
Mid-January IWC counts of 18 coastal wader species have been analyzed in order to assess trends at national level and on each of the three main coastlines: North Sea and Channel, Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. Most of the studied species are increasing in France since 1980. Oystercatcher and Ruff are the only species which remained stable on long-term. Since 2000, the situation has changed markedly with three species no longer increasing (Common Ringed Plover, Grey Plover and Purple Sandpiper) and three other decreasing moderately (Oystercatcher, Little Stint and Purple Sandpiper). Other species are still increasing but at a lesser rate than during previous decades. On North Sea and Channel coast a global decreasing trend (mainly link to decreasing trends of Dunlin and Oystercatcher in the area) was observed, contrasting with the continuous increase observed on the Atlantic coast. Although the Mediterranean coast is less attractive for wintering waders, excepted for Little Stint and Kentish Plover, they are increasing at a higher rate on this coast. Coastal nature reserves designated in France, mostly during the 1980s and 1990s, best explain the increase of wader numbers on the long-term with trends significantly most positive than those observed at the flyway level. On the contrary, when observed on the short-term, national trends do not differ from those observed at the East-Atlantic flyway level. Reasons for increasing/decreasing trends in over-wintering shorebirds should be thus explored over larger scale than only at national scale. For this, improvement of the whole flyway monitoring populations is needed.
Private Profile
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The purpose is to define the habitat of the 268 breeding bird species in France in order to standardize comparisons of ecological data dealing with bird habitats in space (between- habitats, between-regions) and in time (long time or short time surveys). After a bibliographical research, experts were contacted on the basis of 60 pictures of habitats used by breeding birds. The major habitat of each species was determined by crossing two approaches, one defined by the vote of experts and the other statistically by pooling together the species sharing the same habitat. The suggested typology is considered at three levels: the domain (5 classes), the landscape (11 classes) and the habitat (18 classes). A synthetic table of distribution of the 268 species in relation to this typology is presented. The typology is tested in relation to trends of distribution and long term abundance of these species in France. The conclusions by habitat are discussed in relation to the considered level of the analysis, the one at level 2 (landscape) and the other at level 3 (habitat). Finally, the conclusions between the typological levels are congruent but may differ from one level to the other.
Private Profile
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Habitat typology of breeding birds in France. Testing the influence of the typological level on trend assessment. The purpose is to define the habitat of the 268 breeding bird species in France in order to standardize comparisons of ecological data dealing with bird habitats in space (betweenhabitats, between-regions) and in time (long time or short time surveys). After a bibliographical research, experts were contacted on the basis of 60 pictures of habitats used by breeding birds. The major habitat of each species was determined by crossing two approaches, one defined by the vote of experts and the other statistically by pooling together the species sharing the same habitat. The suggested typology is considered at three levels: the domain (5 classes), the landscape (11 classes) and the habitat (18 classes). A synthetic table of distribution of the 268 species in relation to this typology is presented. The typology is tested in relation to trends of distribution and long term abundance of these species in France. The conclusions by habitat are discussed in relation to the considered level of the analysis, the one at level 2 (landscape) and the other at level 3 (habitat). Finally, the conclusions between the typological levels are congruent
Private Profile
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Illegal killing/taking of birds is a growing concern across the Mediterranean. However, there are few quantitative data on the species and countries involved. We assessed numbers of individual birds of each species killed/taken illegally in each Mediterranean country per year, using a diverse range of data sources and incorporating expert knowledge. We estimated that 11–36 million individuals per year may be killed/taken illegally in the region, many of them on migration. In each of Cyprus, Egypt, Italy, Lebanon and Syria, more than two million birds may be killed/taken on average each year. For species such as Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla , Common Quail Coturnix coturnix, Eurasian Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs , House Sparrow Passer domesticus and Song Thrush Turdus philomelos , more than one million individuals of each species are estimated to be killed/ taken illegally on average every year. Several species of global conservation concern are also reported to be killed/taken illegally in substantial numbers: Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata , Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca and Rock Partridge Alectoris graeca . Birds in the Mediterranean are illegally killed/taken primarily for food, sport and for use as cage-birds or decoys. At the 20 worst locations with the highest reported numbers, 7.9 million individuals may be illegally killed/ taken per year, representing 34% of the mean estimated annual regional total number of birds illegally killed/taken for all species combined. Our study highlighted the paucity of data on illegal killing/taking of birds. Monitoring schemes which use systematic sampling protocols are needed to generate increasingly robust data on trends in illegal killing/taking over time and help stakeholders prioritise conservation actions to address this international conservation problem. Large numbers of birds are also hunted legally in the region, but specific totals are generally unavailable. Such data, in combination with improved estimates for illegal killing/taking, are needed for robustly assessing the sustainability of exploitation of birds.
Corncrake Crex crex reproduction was studied in six areas of France that together contained a total of 300 calling males in 1995 (25% of the total French population). Timing of breeding is compared with mowing dates. The overall breeding period and earliest hatching dates vary from one region to another. From field data, it appears that second clutches are laid in at least three areas: Charente, Charente-Maritime and Anjou (all in western France). The study shows the importance of keeping some unmown areas during the summer, allowing the survival of chicks unable to fly before the end of July. More than 160 chicks were seen during searches at mowing time. Survival rate with classical mowing dates has been estimates as 41%. Survival rate increases and can reach at least 61% with the use of Corncrake-friendly mowing. Delay in mowing, the provision of unmown strips and friendly mowing are efficient ways of allowing a large proportion of young birds to survive. Conservation measures, proposed since 1995, have been applied under contract using grants. These will be extended to river flood plains within the framework of agri-enviromental operatons.
Private Profile
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Ortolan bunting (Emberiza hortulana) status in France and Europe. Better knowledge, but increased threats.
La liste rouge mondiale ne cesse de s’allonger. 1460 espèces d'oiseaux y figurent à ce jour, soit 13% de l’avifaune mondiale. Des extinctions ont aussi été répertoriées, 156 en tout, avec 13 espèces dont on n’a pas retrouvé la trace ces dernières années ! La France, avec ses collectivités et territoires d’Outre-mer, héberge près de 1500 espèces d’oiseaux. Elle figure à ce titre dans le palmarès des pays à l’avifaune la plus riche…. mais aussi parmi les pays les mieux pourvus en oiseaux menacés d’extinction, en 7ème position ! La situation s’est dégradée : de 79 espèces mondialement menacées répertoriées en 2011, elle est passée à 90 en 2016 !
Private Profile
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Ornithos 18 (2011): 212-225. The global challenges of bird conservation in metropolitan France and its overseas entities. In continental France and its overseas entities, there are an estimated 1533 bird species, among which 1200 are regular native breeders. More than 50% of them are found in French Guiana, an overseas département, where native tropical forest covers most of the area. In 2011, there are 79 globally threatened bird species present in France and its overseas entities (41 VU, 25 EN, 13 CR), in other words 6.4% of the 1240 globally threatened species and 5% of the esti-mated 1533 breeding and migratory bird species present in France. The main bird conser vation issues are to be found in the overseas entities, where more than 76% of the bird species are present, with more than 91% of these which are globally threatened (72 sp.). This article also points out the number of endemic (63 sp., of which 62 are in overseas entities) and extinct bird species (26 sp., 25 in overseas entities) censused in French dependencies since the 16th century. Conser vation tools which are available to safeguard the overseas biodiversity are analysed, with a special focus on EU initiatives and legislation.
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Apport des Plans Nationaux d’Action dans la conservation des oiseaux En 2011, on compte en France 23 espèces d’oiseaux à « Plans Nationaux d’Action-PNA », 21 en Métropole et deux en Outre-mer, auxquelles il faut ajouter deux plans régionaux qui existent pour des espèces endémiques de La Réunion, menacées mondialement. L’apport des plans d’action se mesure notamment à l’amélioration de la connaissance de la biologie des espèces, au progrès de leur statut et à la communication qui en est faite. Les principales avancées portent sur les mesures de gestion mises en place en concertation avec les acteurs locaux. Les problématiques abordées dans ces plans d’action sont d’une grande hétérogénéité, autant que les habitats et les menaces auxquelles sont confrontées les espèces traitées. Cela a débouché sur une telle diversité d’approches, que toute analyse globale du dispositif en est rendue compliquée. Pour évaluer l’efficacité et la pertinence des PNA, il convient de mettre en relation le statut national et international des espèces avec les mesures de conservation préconisées dans les plans. La majorité des espèces traitées sont en liste rouge et classées en annexe I de la Directive Européenne « Oiseaux ». Six augmentent, cinq sont stables, la tendance n’est pas connue pour deux espèces et huit déclinent. En Métropole, le lien avec les plans d’action européens n’est établi que dans 10 cas. Quatre espèces d’oiseaux supplémentaires faisant l’objet de plans internationaux, au statut défavorable en France et en Europe, pourraient également bénéficier de PNA.
Thierry Micol
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Among the French islands of the South Indian Ocean, Amsterdam Island is the richest in endemic species but its indigenous terrestrial ecosystem has been drastically modified. Sealers and transoceanic voyagers caused irreversible damage to the native fauna and flora, either directly by fires and culling, or indirectly by introduced mammals. An endemic flightless duck and several petrels have recently become extinct. Nevertheless, some of the endemic flora and fauna have survived and the discovery of a relic population of Amsterdam albatross Diomedea amsterdamensis in 1983 resulted in the establishment of a restoration programme. Five cattle were introduced in 1871 and numbered about 2000 in 1988. At this time the herd was both the main threat to endangered indigenous species and one of the very few feral herds of Bos taurus anywhere in the world. A compromise was decided upon between the urgent need to protect the island and the scientific interest of the herd. The island was divided by a fence. Cattle were removed from the larger part, allowing the terrestrial ecosystem to become rehabilitated. In the other part a management plan is in progress to control the size of the population. The investigation of compromises between biological interest and practicability of the restoration programme is a necessary first step to successful island conservation.
Private Profile
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Valorisation of studies on bird status and conservation in France (Metropolitan & overseas dependencies) to international initiatives