Justification of Red List category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
The global population is estimated to number c.310,000-390,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population estimates include: c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration and c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in China; c.50-1,000 wintering individuals and c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration in Taiwan; c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration and c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in Japan and c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).
The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the impacts of habitat modification on population sizes.
Behaviour This species is fully migratory, with four definable groups migrating on a broad front to different wintering grounds (del Hoyo et al. 1996). In central Siberia, flocks form in early July and depart for their winter quarters in early-August to early-September (adults leaving first), to arrive in India, south Arabia and East Africa in early-August to mid-September (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Populations breeding in eastern Russia, Kamchatka, the Commander Islands and the Chukitsk Peninsula, winter from Taiwan to Australia (Hayman et al. 1986), leaving their breeding grounds late-July to early-September (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The population breeding in the Himalayas and southern Tibet winters in a range or areas from India to Sumatra (Hayman et al. 1986), returning to its breeding grounds between late-February to April (reaching them between mid-April and mid-May) (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The fourth migratory group of this species breeds in eastern Tibet and winters from Thailand to the Greater Sundas (Hayman et al. 1986). Many non-breeding birds may also stay in their winter quarters all year round (Hayman et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996). During the non-breeding season the species may occur singly or in flocks of up to 100 or more, but nesting pairs are solitary and territorial during the breeding season (Johnsgard 1981, Urban et al. 1986). This species is mainly diurnal but sometimes forages on moonlit nights (Johnsgard 1981, del Hoyo et al. 1996). Habitat Breeding During the breeding season this species mainly occurs above the tree-line on mountains at altitudes of up to 5,500 m in the Himalayas(Ladakh, Sikkim, and Tibet) (Johnsgard 1981, Hayman et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996). It inhabits barren valleys and basins in elevated tundra and mountain steppe, mainly near water (bogs) on moist but well-drained gravelly, rocky or sandy surfaces with sparse vegetation such as salt-pans, patches of detritus, dry edges of salt-marshes and places used by herds of cattle (del Hoyo et al. 1996). In Siberia and the Commander (Komandorskiye) Islands the species also occurs at sea-level, here inhabiting sand dunes and shingle along the coast (Hayman et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996). Non-breeding The species is almost strictly coastal during the non-breeding season, preferring sandy beaches, mudflats of coastal bays and estuaries, sand-flats and dunes near the coast (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996), occasionally frequenting mangrove mudflats (in Australia) (National Parks and Wildlife Service 1999 Species Profile: Charadrius mongolus. Downloaded from http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au on 13/8/2007) and feeding on exposed coral reefs (Solomon Islands, Pacific) (Cramp and Simmons 1983). Very rarely the species also frequents coastal airfields (del Hoyo et al. 1996), and during migration it may be seen on the shores of inland lakes (e.g. the East African Great Lakes) (Cramp and Simmons 1983, Urban et al. 1986) and rivers, or on cultivated land (Hayman et al. 1986, Grimmett et al. 1998). Diet Breeding The breeding diet of this species includes many beetles, weevils, fly larvae, stalk worms and crabs (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Non-breeding During the non-breeding season this species takes insects, crustaceans (such as crabs and amphipods), molluscs (particularly bivalves) and polycheate worms (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest of this species is a shallow scrape in bare sand or shingle (nesting pairs may often utilise cattle footprints), sometimes beside bushes and big stones (or amongst lichens and Drias in the Far East) (del Hoyo et al. 1996).
This species is threatened by habitat degradation and loss (e.g. agricultural developments reducing the area of coastal and inland habitats, and hydrological changes to estuaries modifying important areas of suitable habitat in Australia ), as well as disturbance from tourism (National Parks and Wildlife Service 1999 Species Profile: Charadrius mongolus. Downloaded from http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au on 13/8/2007).
Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Charadrius mongolus. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/lesser-sandplover-charadrius-mongolus on 04/12/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 04/12/2023.