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BTO Blueline
Vanellus vanellus

Lapwing © Mike Weston


• Population

• Productivity

• Additional

Conservation listings
Europe: SPEC category 2, vulnerable
UK: red
UK Biodiversity Action Plan: priority species
Long-term trend
UK: moderate decline  
UK population size
156,000 (137,000–174,000) pairs in 1985–99 (O'Brien 2005: BiE04, APEP06)
Status summary
Although CBC recorded some increase in its early years, Lapwings have declined continuously on lowland farmland since the mid 1980s, probably because changes in agricultural practice have led to their breeding productivity dropping below a sustainable level (Galbraith 1988, Hudson et al. 1994, Siriwardena et al. 2000a, Besbeas et al. 2002, Milsom 2005). National surveys in England and Wales showed a 49% population decline between 1987 and 1998 (Wilson et al. 2001). Population declines of more than 50% over 15 years in Northern Ireland (Henderson et al. 2002) mirror similar declines throughout grassland areas of Wales and southeast England (Wilson et al. 2001, 2005). BBS data indicate some increase in England since 1994, but steep decline in Scotland. Adult and first-year survival rates show no trend through time (Peach et al. 1994, Catchpole et al. 1999). Mean clutch size increased significantly as the population fell. Using NRS data for 1962–99, Chamberlain & Crick (2003) found that marginal upland had relatively low reproductive performance, and arable relatively high, while grazed grass had higher failure rates and lower clutch sizes than ungrazed grass: their results suggest that recent population change may have been influenced by changes in clutch failure rates, perhaps mediated by an increase in grazing intensity in marginal uplands and by increased predation, possibly associated with habitat change. There have been several very poor years for egg-stage survival since 1996, and the species is therefore now of NRS concern (Leech & Barimore 2008). A recent study has indicated that 88% of nest predations occurred during darkness, suggesting that nocturnal mammals were to blame (Bolton et al. 2007). Nests with close neighbours and furthest from field edges were most likely to survive (MacDonald & Bolton 2008). Sharpe et al. (2008), however, conclude that chick mortality is the main determinant of poor Lapwing productivity and therefore of population decline.

Winter numbers counted by WeBS, mainly at coastal sites and omitting some big concentrations inland, increased in Britain during the 1980s and early 1990s and are now decreasing steeply (Calbrade et al. 2010); these birds are mainly of continental origin. Lapwing is one of the most strongly declining bird species in Europe, having decreased in all regions since 1980, although with differing regional timing (PECBMS 2009, 2010). The 2009 review moved this species from amber to the UK red list, for which it qualifies on the strength of its UK decline.
CBC/BBS UK graph

1967-2008: -31% (confidence interval -60% to 14%)

Population changes in detail
Demographic trends
Additional information

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This report should be cited as: Baillie, S.R., Marchant, J.H., Leech, D.I., Renwick, A.R., Joys, A.C., Noble, D.G., Barimore, C., Conway, G.J., Downie, I.S., Risely, K. & Robinson, R.A. (2010). Breeding Birds in the Wider Countryside: their conservation status 2010. BTO Research Report No. 565. BTO, Thetford. (http://www.bto.org/birdtrends)

Pages maintained by Iain Downie, Mandy T Andrews and Laura Smith: Last updated 15.10.2010