Status, Threat, and Protection of Arctic Waterbirds

  • Christoph Zöckler


There are an estimated 123 million waterbirds of 153 species breeding in the Arctic. Arctic waterbirds are overall in decline, despite a few taxonomic and regional exceptions. The reasons are often manifold, mainly because all Arctic waterbirds are migratory and are exposed to threats along the flyways that connect almost all global sites, apart from inner Antarctica through their migration routes. They are messengers from the Arctic and as such must be considered of global concern. On the one hand, this view allows Arctic waterbirds to reveal the state of global coastal and inland wetlands and report as suitable indicators to the CBD (Convention of Biological Diversity) 2010 and other global and regional convention targets. But the migratory habits of these birds also pose a huge challenge to their protection and conservation. Despite their general declines, there are some notable taxonomic exceptions (geese and many gulls) and regional differences. Although they spend most of their lifetime outside the Arctic region, the relatively short period of breeding and rearing the young leaves them particularly vulnerable and exposes them to a harsh and changing Arctic environment. In addition to the recently accelerating economic development of some Arctic areas, rapid climate change puts enormous pressure on the breeding birds. Overharvesting of Arctic waterbirds, mostly outside the Arctic, is also to blame for large-scale declines. The Arctic has a relatively high proportion of protected areas. However, many waterbird species are not sufficiently covered by the protected areas network. Also, many protected areas do not fully protect waterbirds within their legislation or are lacking management. Last, because of their long migratory flyway routes, key stopover sites are often insufficiently protected, leaving most waterbirds vulnerable to threats at least at one key stopover or wintering site.


Winter Area Common Eider Winter Site Brent Goose Siberian Crane 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring CentreCambridgeUK

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