Written by Les Underhill
This is the first range-change map for a migrant wader (see link). Little Stints breed in the Eurasian Arctic, in a very narrow zone, called Arctic Tundra. The core of their distribution is in the Taimyr Peninsula in far northern Siberia, but it stretches as far west as Norway and as far east as Chukotsky in the extreme east of Russia. Most Little Stints migrate to Africa for the non-breeding season. The tundra in general, and Arctic Tundra in particular is a habitat threatened by climate change. If the impact of climate change is to reduce the breeding success and ultimately the size of the population of Little Stints, we would anticipate this to be detected soonest at the southern end of the migration range, ie in southern Africa. If the population of Little Stints is smaller, then, everything else remaining the same, the number of wetlands they need is reduced. If they fill the wetlands from the north to the south, then the wetlands that will tend to be left unoccupied will be the ones farthest south, in southern Africa.
Thus the range-change map for the Little Stint is an alarming one, because it shows a predominance of red quarter degree grid cells, where the species was recorded in SABAP1, but not yet in SABAP2. The map needs to interpreted with caution though; at least some of the red cells will be places which have only been visited in winter, when Little Stints are away breeding. This is an example of a species for which a more detailed seasonal analysis needs to be made before conclusions are drawn. And the wetland count data of the CWAC project needs to be consulted as well. The colours used in the range change map are explained in the interpretation note.