Conservation assessment of Far Eastern Oystercatcher Haematopus [ostralegus] osculans


129 – 154

26 August 14

David S. Melville, Yuri N. Gerasimov, Nial Moores, Yu Yat-Tung, Qingquan Bai

David Melville
1261 Dovedale Road, R.D. 2 Wakefield, Nelson 7096, New Zealand.


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The Far Eastern Oystercatcher Haematopus [ostralegus] osculans is a little-known taxon, with an estimated total population of about 11,000 birds. The disjunctive breeding range extends along the west coast of the Kamchatkan Peninsula to Shelikov Bay at the head of the Sea of Okhotsk, and from the west and south coasts of the Korean Peninsula south to Fujian Province, China. During the summer a few birds occur from the Amur River delta south along the coasts of Khabarovsk and Primorsky regions, and inland in the central Amur region and northeast China, but few are thought to breed there. It is nowhere common. It winters mainly along the west coast of the Korean Peninsula and the coast of East China from southern Shandong Province to as far south as northern Guangdong Province. At present, the greatest number, possibly accounting for c. 50% of the total population, winter in South Korea at the Geum estuary, an area which was until 2007 threatened by large-scale reclamation. Northern Jiangsu and southern Shandong, China, support about 20% of the total winter population, but this area is threatened by extensive reclamation. The wintering populations of Taiwan and Japan declined in the late 1880s and early 1900s; the reasons for this are unknown. Current population trends are unknown, however the number wintering in Japan is increasing, although still small (c. 350), while habitat loss in the Yellow Sea, in both China and South Korea, has the potential to cause declines in the core of its range. There is an urgent need for an assessment of the taxonomic status of this form; an assessment of the population and trends in numbers and distribution. It is a candidate species for IUCN listing as ‘Near Threatened’ based on population size (<10,000 mature individuals), and the rapid loss of habitat in the main wintering areas.