Meadow-breeding waders in France: Population sizes, distribution and conservation challenges


166 – 176

1 December 22

Emmanuel Joyeux, Sylvain Haie, Kevin Le Rest, Gwenaël Quaintenne, Charlotte Francesiaz


Emmanuel Joyeux
Office Français de la Biodiversité, Service Conservation et Gestion Durable des Espèces Exploitées, Direction de la Recherche et de l’Appui Scientifique, Réserve de Chanteloup, 85340 l’Ile d’Olonne, France.


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In this study, we aimed to gather knowledge of the distributions, population sizes and trends of the six species of waders breeding in meadows in France: Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, Common Redshank Tringa totanus, Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata, Ruff Philomachus pugnax and Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago. France also hosts a population of Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus but it mainly breeds on rocky coasts and we chose not to include this wader species as a grassland species. The populations of Northern Lapwing, Eurasian Curlew and Common Snipe are decreasing and the Ruff hardly nests anymore in France. The intensification of agriculture is thought to be the main reason for these widespread declines, especially the associated earlier mowing, high densities of grazing livestock and the change of meadows into grassland monocultures. That said, certain small localized populations of Common Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit are increasing slightly. These two species rely on wet meadows that are maintained through local policy decisions. Agri-environmental schemes have not yet been efficient in increasing wader populations in France. More ambitious agri-environmental schemes on large areas are needed with monetary compensation encouraging farmers to postpone mowing and include wetlands or natural meadows. More regular and standardized monitoring of shorebird populations is also needed to compare and detect potential changes in numbers. A new national survey (LIMAT) has recently been implemented and will run over two years in France (2021–2022) to estimate the population size of waders and duck species in France. It has the ambition to be conducted every six years to detect population trends over time and aid conservation efforts.