But this is the hope of scientists from the RSPB and Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Kazakhstan (ACBK) when they resume their search next week for the sociable lapwing, a bird that breeds almost exclusively on the barren steppe expanses of central Kazakhstan.
Numbers of the bird - a close cousin of the northern lapwing commonly seen in the UK - had dropped 95 per cent to fewer than 600 pairs four years ago when the bird was classified as critically endangered, the highest level of threat there is.
At least 4,000 sociable lapwings have been found in Kazakhstan, Turkey and Syria in the last six months, however, and researchers on the new expedition to Kazakhstan hope to find even more. They say the sociable lapwing could be bucking the trend of wildlife decline and that its threat level could eventually be down-graded.
Dr Rob Sheldon, a Research Biologist at the RSPB said: “We have no idea how many birds we will find which is one of the most exciting things about this project. We were sure it had become a victim of the Soviet Union’s collapse because the birds were disappearing as habitats deteriorated.
“But there are still so many birds on land used by cattle that we’ve been forced to think again. That doesn’t mean the bird is not threatened but it does suggest that problems on migration or at over-wintering sites are to blame for its decline.”
Kazakhstan is one of just two countries where sociable lapwing breed and hosted 5,000 birds 20 years ago. Conservationists feared nests were being trampled by livestock where land was farmed and, in more remote areas, that vegetation was too dense for nesting because it was no longer grazed by the heavily poached saiga antelope.
Ten researchers, funded by the UK government’s Darwin Initiative will this summer search a 1,800 square mile area about 150 miles south-west of the Kazakhstan capital, Astana, to look for the birds. Survey teams will also search northern and eastern Kazakhstan, and southern Russia.
Maxim Koshkin, Project Co-ordinator at the ACBK said: “That should give us a much truer picture of just how well this bird is faring and then we can decide how we can help. It is extremely unusual to down-list a bird when it has reached such a level of danger and to think it might eventually be possible for the sociable lapwing is very exciting.”
Sociable lapwings migrate either south-west to the Middle East and north Africa, or south-east to northern India and the RSPB is planning to satellite tag birds to follow their migration routes.
Dr Sheldon said: “We have no evidence that they are being hunted but we can’t rule that out. Disturbance or the loss of their migration stop-overs or winter habitats now seems far more likely.”
Cath Harris | alfa
International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy