Hi everybody -
For your information - the message below was posted to Waders-L by Eugeny
Syroechkovski and Pavel Tomkovich.
Is the Spoon-billed Sandpiper on the fast road to extinction?
Unique to the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper,
Eurynorhynchus pygmeus, is a globally threatened (vulnerable) wader species.
The size of its population is unknown, and the largest flock ever recorded is
257 birds in the Ganges delta, Bangladesh (Howes & Parish 1989). The only
population estimate based on real data was undertaken in 1970s and resulted
in 2,000-2,800 breeding pairs, which seems to be an overestimate even for
that time. No information is widely known about the species' population
In June-early August 2000, a survey of coastal areas in southern Chukotka
Autonomous Area, NE Siberia, was undertaken by the International Arctic
Expedition of the Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of
Sciences. The most unexpected finding of the survey was the almost total
absence of Spoon-billed Sandpipers in four locations formerly known as
breeding sites for this species. It means that the population number has
declined roughly by an order of magnitude during the last one or two decades.
The summer of 2000 was generally favourable for breeding of various birds
in the surveyed area, and the Spoon-billed Sandpiper is known to be a site-
faithful species. This means that seasonal conditions in the summer of 2000
were not responsible for the negligible number of Spoon-billed Sandpipers
recorded breeding. Such results throw new light on previous indications of a
possible species decline which came from two other more northerly breeding
There are no obvious reasons for the decline within the species' breeding
range. Therefore causes should be looked for on migration and/or wintering
grounds, where migratory waders are known to meet many threats (e.g. see
First Draft for the "Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Strategy: 2001 + 2005"
at http://ngo.asiapac.net/wetlands). A bottleneck for the Spoon-billed
Sandpiper population is not known. Thus, there is a big chance of losing
one more wader species before we find a clue for the situation, if the current
level of knowledge and conservation on the species is not urgently changed/
improved. Anyway, there are no doubts that the current status of the Spoon-
billed Sandpiper is endangered (possibly even critically endangered), not
simply vulnerable anymore.
Eugeny E. Syroechkovski, Jr.
Leader of the International Arctic Expedition
Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences
Leninski Prospect, 33
Moscow, 117071, Russia
Pavel S. Tomkovich
Moscow State University
B.Nikitskaya Street, 6
Moscow, 103009, Russia
415 Riversdale Road
HAWTHORN EAST 3123, Australia
Tel: (03) 9882 2622, fax: (03) 9882 2677
Web site: <http://www.birdsaustralia.com.au>
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