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Range DescriptionThis species has a large global population, including an estimated 4,000-7,000 pairs in Europe, in south-eastern European Russia, which accounts for less than a quarter of its global range (BirdLife International 2004a). Populations in the most suitable habitat in central Kazakhstan have been estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands, and maybe even millions of breeding pairs (Timothy Barabashin in litt. 2005). Interpretation of the limited available information on population trends is complicated by the species's nomadic nature and large interannual fluctuations in abundance and distribution. The European population declined by 20-50% during 1970-1990, and over 50% during 1990-2000, as a result of steppe cultivation and overgrazing (Tucker and Heath 1994, BirdLife International 2004a). In the Volgograd Region (Russia and western Kazakhstan), there has been a steady decrease in the species's numbers from the mid-1960s to 2000 (Lindeman and Lopushkov 2004). Spring surveys in the Uzen Limans area (western Kazakhstan) revealed declines exceeding 99% between 1985 and 1995 (V. Mosejikin in litt. 2005). In parts of the Kostanay region (northern Kazakhstan), where the species was once widespread and numerous, its distribution and abundance have decreased noticeably over the past 25 years, and in 2005 large numbers were seen in only two areas (Evgeny Bragin and Todd Katzner in litt. 2005). However, in other areas of north-central Kazakhstan, the species was relatively common in 2005, especially in the taller steppe vegetation (Paul Donald in litt. 2005, Timothy Barabashin in litt. 2005). In summary, in Kazakhstan, the species appears to have a relatively stable population and is common in suitable habitats (although not dispersed evenly, with empty areas) (unpublished expert communications to S. Sklyarenko 2005). In wintering areas in Uzbekistan, numbers are weather-dependent, but generally stable (unpublished expert communications to S. Sklyarenko 2005).