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 overall population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely 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.
In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 76,100-124,000 pairs, which equates to 152,000-249,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.35% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 434,000-712,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.
The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats (del Hoyo et al. 2006). The European population trend is unknown (BirdLife International 2015); however, there may have been at least localised declines in some areas (P. Villányi in litt. 2018
This species occupies low aquatic vegetation, especially reedbeds, but also rush stands, sedges, reedmace (Typha) and others, often with admixture of bushes or tamarisks (Tamarix). Its optimal habitat appears to be old reedbeds containing a high proportion of dead material and a complex lower stratum, with tall reeds above. It is also found along lake margins, ditches, beside freshwater and brackish marshes, and in very small reed marshes in steppe zone. In Europe, egg-laying begins in late March and continues to mid-June. The nest is a deep cup, sometimes with a partial roof, and is made of loosely woven leaves and stems of aquatic plants, lined with fine plant material and some feathers. It is suspended from several vertical plant stems 30–130 cm above the water surface. Clutches usually consist of three to six eggs. The diet is almost entirely small arthropods, especially small beetles. Fruits of cherry (Prunus) and elder (Sambucus) are also taken. The species is sedentary, partially migratory or migratory in Europe, with birds from the north of the range wintering within the species's southern breeding range. Eastern races (albiventris, mimicus) are predominantly migratory, wintering mostly in Levant, Mesopotamia, south-east Afghanistan, Pakistan and north-west India (Dyrcz 2006).
This species is threatened locally by fires caused by humans. Although burnt reedbeds are quickly recolonized, the complex lower stratum that this species favours is lost (Dyrcz 2006). The modification of wetland habitats, water abstraction (Martí and del Moral 2003, Madroño et al. 2005) and the mowing and cutting of reeds (Flitti et al. 2009) also pose a risk to this species. There is little information on eastern races of the species; however, they do not appear to be at any risk (Dyrcz 2006).
Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. Bern Convention Appendix II. EU Birds Directive Annex I. There are currently no known conservation measures for this species within Europe, although it is listed as Vulnerable in the Italian National Red List (Peronace et al. 2012).
Conservation Actions Proposed
The following actions have been proposed for Spanish populations: Measures should be taken to maintain the water level of wetlands where this species breeds. In addition these areas should be protected from disturbance, particularly from fire, which should only be used as a means of management under very controlled conditions. Water quality should be maintained and improved and eutrophication avoided and vegetation should be managed to promote diversity. Populations should also be regularly monitored (Madroño et al. 2005).
Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Martin, R., Butchart, S., Westrip, J., Wheatley, H., Ashpole, J
Villányi, P., Puglisi, L.
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Acrocephalus melanopogon. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 12/12/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 12/12/2019.