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 appears to be increasing and as such it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable 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 at 125,000-1,100,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2015). The European population is estimated at 25,100-28,300 pairs, which equates to 50,100-56,500 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).
The overall population trend is increasing, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2015). The European population trend is fluctuating (BirdLife International 2015).
This species breeds in a few very small, scattered localities from the Black Sea (Crimea, Ukraine), east to Lake Balkhash (Kazakhstan) and spottily to north-west Mongolia, possibly also in northern China (Gansu and Qinghai) and Tibet. It wingers on the coasts of the eastern Mediterranean, Red Sea, Gulf of Persia, south Capsian Sea and north Indian Ocean to Myanmar (del Hoyo et al. 1996).
Behaviour This species is fully migratory, although many immatures over-summer in the winter range (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998, Olsen and Larsson 2003). The species begins to arrive in its breeding grounds from early-May; breeding from early-April in large colonies, usually of more than 10 pairs (often 150-300 [Snow and Perrins 1998] or exceptionally up to 3,000 pairs [del Hoyo et al. 1996]) sometimes near, but not with, Larus argentatus (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). It may also breed in single pairs, but never nests solitarily (it will always nest within a colony of other gull species) (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). Outside of the breeding season the species usually remains solitary or in small parties of 2-3 individuals (Urban et al. 1986), although it may roost gregariously, and will aggregate into large groups where fish are abundant (Snow and Perrins 1998). Habitat Breeding The species breeds on barren islands or islets in fresh and saline lakes, on inland seas in warm arid steppe, on rivers and river deltas where ample surface water is available, and on suitable mountain lakes up to 1,700 m (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998, Olsen and Larsson 2003). It nests in reedbeds, in shrubby vegetation or on bare flat surfaces (Snow and Perrins 1998). Non-breeding After breeding the species shifts to fish-rich sea-coasts (Snow and Perrins 1998, Olsen and Larsson 2003), wintering on beaches and in harbours (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998, Olsen and Larsson 2003). During this season it may also occur inland on beaches (Urban et al. 1986) of major rivers, lakes and reservoirs, or at fish ponds and refuse dumps (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998, Olsen and Larsson 2003). Diet The species is omnivorous although its diet is dominated by animal material (Snow and Perrins 1998). It chiefly feeds on fish (particularly dead fish), crustaceans, insects and small mammals, less often taking birds and their eggs, reptiles, and seeds (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). It often flies long distances from colonies in the breeding season to feed aerially on swarms of insects (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), and it follows fishing boats and scavenges in harbours (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest is a shallow depression positioned in the open on bare rock, among reeds or scrub vegetation (Snow and Perrins 1998), or on vegetated sand-dunes (del Hoyo et al. 1996).
Qinghai Lake, a major breeding location, has been subject to a programme to increase tourism, including the development of infrastructure to facilitate this increase, which appears to have led to significant disturbance to Pallas's Gull and coincides with a dramatic reduction in breeding numbers at the site (Zhang et al. 2014). Pallas’s Gull is also at risk from avian influenza, with 929 individuals dying during an outbreak of H5N1 at Qinghai Lake in 2006 (Chen et al. 2006).
Conservation Actions Underway
The following information refers to the species's European range only: Listed on Appendix II of the Convention for Migratory Species and listed under the African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement. It is listed in 13 Important Bird Areas, in Russia and in the Ukraine.
Conservation Actions Proposed
The following information refers to the species's European range only: Identify Important Bird Areas for this species, with subsequent protection and management of these sites.
Text account compilers
Calvert, R., Ekstrom, J., Ashpole, J, Malpas, L., Butchart, S., Martin, R., Stuart, A.
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Larus ichthyaetus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 13/11/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 13/11/2019.