As researchers are updating the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the UK sees puffins and turtle doves added to the vulnerable list.
In the classification of the IUCN, the ‘vulnerable’ category is just one step behind the ‘critically endangered’ and ‘endangered’ categories. Vulnerable means that Atlantic puffins and turtle doves are now exposed to the risk of massive population loss. For each of the species, the reasons vary, while some become a common denominator.
The UK sees puffins and turtle doves added to the vulnerable list in addition to two other species: the pochards and the Slavonian grebes. With these, the list of vulnerable birds in the UK now contains eight species.
The Red List of the IUCN should increase awareness as to the status of the each species in a country. Preferably, awareness is followed by efforts to turn things to the better.
Atlantic puffins populations across the European continent are at risk. In Norway and Iceland, where the majority of these birds find a home, the decline has been most staggering. Overall, the Atlantic puffin population still counts millions of birds. However, as chicks hatch and are in need of nourishment, a decline in food sources translates into higher mortality. As such, few chicks live to adulthood when they are able to breed. The phenomenon has been observed in key Atlantic puffin colonies.
Puffins prey on sand eel. A decline observed with this prey as well underlines the great impact it has on the puffins. Another threatening factor for the puffin populations are oil spills or any polluting factors, according to the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.
With view to the Atlantic puffin and the turtle dove being added to the ‘vulnerable’ category, Doctor Richard Gregory with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds stated:
“The puffin and turtle dove are now facing the same level of extinction threat as the African elephant and lion, and…more endangered than the humpback whale”.
While these four species saw an ‘upgrade’ to the vulnerable category, other 23 have been downgraded. Which is good news, considering this means the threat that they become extinct has reduced significantly. Among them, the European Roller has been moved from the ‘near threatened’ category to the ‘least concerned’.
As for turtle doves, population number has declined by 30 percent over the past 16 years. The UK has experienced most of the population loss. Overall, this year’s threatened species list in the UK includes 180 species.
Photo Credits: Pixabay