Conservation status of seabirds and shorebirds

  • Image, Conservation status of seabirds and shorebirds.

    New Zealand has 92 seabird and 14 shorebird species and subspecies (taxa) – the highest number of endemic seabirds (found only in a particular area) in the world. Nearly 25 percent of the world’s seabird species breed in the New Zealand region, and almost 10 percent breed only here. Seabirds and shorebirds tend to be at or near the top of the food chain, and thrive only if the marine ecosystem is healthy. Decreasing bird populations can signal the ecosystem is degrading.

    We classified Conservation status of seabirds and shorebirds as a case study.

    Key findings

    About one-third (32 of 92) of New Zealand’s resident indigenous seabird taxa and more than half (8 of 14) of our resident indigenous shorebird taxa are threatened with extinction.

    In addition:

    • more than half of our resident indigenous seabird taxa (51 of 92) are at risk of extinction
    • more than one-quarter (29 percent) of our resident indigenous shorebird taxa (4 of 14) are at risk of extinction.

    Figure 1

    1. Includes shearwater, petrel, and prion.
    2. Includes tern and noddy.
    Note: Non-resident indigenous species that do not breed in New Zealand (migrants and vagrants) and extinct species are not included.

    Figure 2

    Note: Non-resident indigenous species that do not breed in New Zealand (migrants and vagrants) and extinct species are not included.

    Definition and methodology

    This case study presents the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS) (Townsend et al, 2008) categories for 92 seabird species and subspecies (taxa) and 14 shorebird taxa (based on Robertson et al, 2012).

    See the Department of Conservation’s Threatened species categories for more information about the NZTCS categories.

    We exclude two shorebird species, bar-tailed godwit and lesser knot, because these are migrant birds. However, their conservation status is assessed by the Department of Conservation because they spend a long part of their annual cycle in New Zealand.

    Data quality

     Topic Classification   Relevance Accuracy 
     Marine species, taonga species, and genetic diversity  Case study

    relevance-direct 
    Direct

    accuracy-medium 
    Medium

    See Data quality information for more detail.

    References

    Robertson, HA, Dowding, JE, Elliott, GP, Hitchmough, RA, Miskelly, CM, O’Donnell, CFJ, … Taylor, GA (2013). Conservation status of New Zealand birds, 2012. New Zealand Threat Classification Series 4. Available from www.doc.govt.nz.

    Townsend, AJ, de Lange, PJ, Duffy, CAJ, Miskelly, CM, Molloy, J, & Norton, DA (2008). New Zealand Threat Classification System manual. Available from www.doc.govt.nz.

    Archived pages

    See Conservation status of seabirds and shorebirds (archived October 2016).

    Updated 27 October 2016

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