Caucasian Grouse Lyrurus mlokosiewiczi


Justification of Red List Category
This species has been classified as Near Threatened owing to declines that are projected to occur owing to road construction for tourism development. Although population trends in parts of the species's range are unclear, the overall rate of decline is projected to increase owing to increased hunting, grazing and wood cutting, as well as habitat fragmentation; it almost meets the requirements for listing as threatened under criterion A3cde.

Population justification
Its population size has been estimated at c. 30,000–63,000 individuals based on habitat modelling (Gavashelishvili and Javakhishvili 2010) and c. 11,500–25,500 lekking males (i.e. c. 34,500–76,500 individuals) based on national estimates (BirdLife International 2015).

Trend justification
Population declines, suspected to be moderate over the last ten years, are expected to increase significantly in the near future, owing to increased hunting, habitat degradation and fragmentation brought about by the creation of new roads. Recently published data suggest that the European population may have declined by <20% over the last three generations (19.2 years, based on a generation length estimated by BirdLife to be 6.4 years) (BirdLife International 2015). Europe holds >95% of the global range of this species. In north-west Iran the population is thought to have increased in size from 215 individuals in 2001 to 350 individuals in 2009 (Khaleghizadeh et al. 2011) however it is now suggested that the population may have declined (N. Habibzadeh in litt. 2015). Its habitat in Azerbaijan is reported to be decreasing and under heavy grazing pressure (E. Sultanov in litt. 2015).

Distribution and population

This species is endemic to the Greater and Lesser Caucasus mountains, where there are thought to be some 34,500-76,500 individuals spread between Russia (1,500-3,500 calling males), Georgia (7,551-15,759 calling males), Turkey (1,500-2,800 calling males), Armenia (200-400 calling males), Azerbaijan (700-3,000 calling males) (BirdLife International 2015) and Iran (less than 500 individuals) (T. Sviridova in litt. 2000, Gokhelashvili et al. 2003, BirdLife International 2004, S. Klaus in litt. 2005, Sultanov 2006, Khosravifard in litt. 2007, Storch in press). Population estimates have been very variable and data are patchy, partially due to political unrest which has hampered data collection on populations, trends and threats. Spatial modelling has led to considerably lower population estimates: the global population has recently been estimated at 30,203-63,034 individuals based on extent of suitable habitat in range countries (Gavashelishvili and Javakhishvili 2010); conversely, in Turkey the population was thought to perhaps be as low as 1,000 individuals, but based on spatial modelling, may comprise over 4,800 individuals (Gottschalk et al. 2007). Where trend estimates for 1990-2000 are available they tend to show that the population is in decline (Armenia, 10-19%, Azerbaijan, 20-29% and Turkey, 0-19%) and although in Russia the population is apparently stable, rates of decline are widely predicted to increase. The most recent population assessment as part of the European Red List of Birds found that for most countries the trend direction could not be determined, however the Russian population was reported to be stable between 2000 and 2012 (BirdLife International 2015).


It is found in subalpine and alpine meadows, on north-facing slopes with Rhododendron and juniper Juniperus, and on the edge of birch forest in spring and winter, at elevations of 1,300-3,000 m (Gavashelishvili and Javakhishvili 2010). Meadows used for hay production are important for breeding birds (Klaus et al. 2003). Lek sites are found above the timber line not far from winter food resources such as birch Betula litwinowii, oak Quercus macranthera, beech Fagus orientalis, juniper Juniperus and rose Rosa spp (Klaus and Vitovich 2006). A recent study found that landscapes with diverse land cover types around lekking sites provided greater foraging opportunities (Habibzadeh et al. 2013).


Ongoing road building for the construction of holiday homes in the mountains is currently the major threat and is likely to significantly increase the rate of decline by fragmenting habitat, causing disturbance and allowing increased access for hunters and herdsmen (BaÞkaya 2003, G. Welch in litt. 2005, Isfendiyaroglu et al. 2007, Ýsfendiyaroðlu et al. 2007). Construction of summer homes and wood-cutting for fuel reduces the availability of winter foraging habitat. Habitat loss and deterioration are also likely to be major threats with 40% of subalpine meadows within its range suffering from intensive grazing (WWF/IUCN 1994). The density of birds in grazed areas is low. Grazing livestock disturb and trample nests and birds are killed by herders' dogs (S. Klaus in litt. 2007). Illegal hunting is an increasing threat, particularly in the Lesser Caucasus and in Turkey, both by local residents and occasionally by tourists (E. Ménoni in litt. 2007). Dam building and subsequent re-settlement of displaced people is likely to cause significant declines in Turkey (BaÞkaya 2003).

Conservation actions

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
Large scale research and conservation projects are underway in Georgia and Turkey to improve understanding of the species' biology, develop monitoring and management activities and promote public awareness, and a project to survey the species in Azerbaijan has been carried out (IUCN/SSC/BirdLife/WPA Grouse Specialist Group 2002; R. Gokhelashvili in litt. 2005; E. Sultanov in litt. 2005; Azniashvili 2004; Sultanov 2006). Future work to develop a conservation strategy and create a potential distribution map for all range countries is planned. A captive breeding program is being developed in Armenia.

Conservation and Research Actions ProposedContinue research into its population status, ecological requirements and interactions with different farming and forestry methods. Encourage the development and implementation of national species action plans. Develop a framework for grouse-friendly farming practice, including control of dogs and regulation of hunting. Develop public awareness campaigns. Prevent road construction and inappropriate development in key areas for the species. Review the adequacy of the existing protected area network. Monitor populations at a number of sites throughout its range, especially close to sites which are being developed.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Derhé, M., Harding, M., Keane, A., Mahood, S., Pople, R. & Ashpole, J

Ananian, V., Balkiz, O., Baskaya, S., Etzold, J., Gavashelishvili, A., Ghasabyan, M., Gokhelashvili, R., Khosravifard, S., Klaus, S., Mezhnev, A., Ménoni, E., Patrikeev, M., Storch, I., Sultanov, E., Sviridova, T., Welch, G., Klaus, S. & Isfendiyaroglu, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Lyrurus mlokosiewiczi. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/10/2021.