Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed a Vulnerable because it is undergoing a rapid decline. The causes of this are uncertain, and further work will be required to ascertain the driver of the decline.
The Italian Red List estimated that there are 10,000,000-20,000,000 individuals in the country (Peronace et al. 2012). In the European Red List of Birds the global population size was estimated to be 2,173,000-3,629,000 pairs, equivalent to 4,346,000-7,258,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015), rounded here to 4,300,000-7,300,000 mature individuals.
The only country within this species’s range where declines have been noted is Italy (BirdLife International 2015), where the rate of decline has been estimated at 30-40% between 2000 and 2012 (BirdLife International 2015), 47% between 2000 and 2010 (LIPU & Rete Rurale Nazionale 2011), 54.2% between 2000 and 2015 (E. de Carli in litt. 2017), and 50% in northern Italy between 1996 and 2006 (Brichetti et al. 2008). Combining and extrapolating the trend estimates from Italy and other countries produces an overall rate of decline between 36% and 51% over 3 generations (c. 18 years). Therefore, the decline has tentatively been placed in the range 30-49% over 3 generations.
Passer italiae occurs in Italy, Corsica (France), Sicily (Italy) and Crete (Greece), as well as into Switzerland (where it fluctuates, though the breeding range appears to be unchanged since 1993-1996 [P. Knaus in litt. 2017]), Slovenia and Austria (BirdLife International 2015, Summers-Smith 2017).
This species can occur in a vast array of habitat from farmland and rural areas and the surrounding habitats as well as in urban areas, though it prefers areas of cereal agriculture (Summers-Smith 2017).
The causes behind the species's decline are uncertain. The congeneric House Sparrow P. domesticus and Spanish Sparrow P. hispaniolensis have suffered declines as a result of changing agricultural practices, such as increased use of pesticides, which reduces the amount of available food (see BirdLife International 2015). However, urban populations may also be declining (Brichetti et al. 2008, Summers-Smith 2017), and so this is unlikely to be the sole cause of population declines in this species.
Conservation Actions Underway
This species was removed from the list of huntable species in Italy in 1997 (M. Sorrenti in litt. 2017).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct research to investigate the potential drivers of the decline in this species, and carry out targeted surveys (C. Celada in litt. 2017). These can then allow for better assessment of population trends. Attempt to reduce the use of pesticides that could be having harmful effects on food availability for this species, and bring this species in line with other conservation actions for farmland species.
Text account compilers
Derhé, M., Ekstrom, J., Westrip, J., Butchart, S., Symes, A.
Knaus, P., Celada, C., de Carli, E., Sorrenti, M.
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Passer italiae. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/09/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/09/2019.