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Location Turkmenistan, Dashoguz
Central coordinates 57o 25.43' East  41o 44.56' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 503,647 ha
Altitude 38 - 54m
Year of IBA assessment 2006

BirdLife Central Asia Programme (BirdLife Direct Action Programme)

Site description Sarygamysh Lake is located in the northern part of Turkmenistan. The southern, southeastern and southwestern parts of the lake are within the Sarygamysh Zakaznik (203,561 hectares). The surrounding landscape is sandy and clay desert, solonchaks and depressions. The area of the lake is about 4,000 км2, with depths up to 50 m.

Key Biodiversity The avifauna of Sarygamysh Lake includes more than 160 species, of which 84 are migrants, 50 passage-nesting and 26 non-migratory and resident. The most typical are Passeriformes (58), Charadriiformes (30), Anseriformes (18) and Falconiformes (13). The total number of waterbirds is 67 species (Rustamov, 1948; 1954; Rustamov, Ptushenko, 1959; Velikanov, Khokhlov, 1979; Eminov, etc., 1987; Atayev, 2005; Shubenkin, 1986; Shubenkin, Antipov, 1990). Pelecanus onocrotalus and Pelecanus crispus, Platalea leucorodia, Phoenicopterus roseus, Oxyura leucocephala, Tetrax tetrax, Otis tarda, Pandion haliaetus, Aegypius monachus, Aquila chrysaetos, Circaetus gallicus, Falco cherrug and Burhinus oedicnemus are listed in the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan (1999). Columba eversmanni, Coracias garrulus, Aythya nyroca and Haliaeetus albicilla are globally threatened species on the Red List of IUCN. Criterion A1: Pelecanus crispus and Aythya nyroca. Criterion А4iii: the site regularly supports more than 20,000 waterfowl and water birds.

Non-bird biodiversity: Zooplankton - 10 species. The maximum number and biomass occurs in the spring and summer period when crustaceans are breeding. Zoobenthos - 24 species, with chironomid larvae predominant - 12 species (Embergenov, Pavlovsk, Mnajev, 1987). Insects - 348 species, including Collembola - 4 species, Thysanura - 2, Blattoptera - 3, Isoptera - 2, Orthoptera - 32, Psocoptera - 2, Homoptera - 62, Thysanoptera - 1, Coleoptera - 178, Hepidoptera - 26, Hymenoptera - 21, Diptera - 15 species (Soyunov, 1991). The ichtyofauna of Sarygamysh Lake (36 species in total) consists of native species of the Aral-Amudarya basin and some Far Eastern species. Cyprinidae are dominant (Sanin, Kostyukovskiy, 1991). Amphibians - 2 species. Reptiles - 10 species: turtles - 1, lizards - 6 and snakes - 3 (Shamakov, 1984; Atayev, 2005). Mammals 71 species: bats - 7, lagomorphs - 2, rodents - 44, predators - 13 and ungulates - 5 species (Strelkov, etc., 1978). Flora - not less than 300 species of higher plants. Dominant are desert species such as Chenopodiaceae - 88 species, Asteractae - 30, Brassicaceae - 26, etc. (Meredov, etc., 2004). Algoflora - 186 species from 33 families and 70 genus. Seaweed: Diatomeae - 61 species, Cyanobacteriae - 29 and Chlorophyta - 16 (Lyubeznov, 1991).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Common Pochard Aythya ferina passage  1987-1989  585-9,500 individuals  medium  A4i  Vulnerable 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca passage  2005-2006  30 individuals  medium  A1  Near Threatened 
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula passage  1987-1989  525-9,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus breeding  1987-1989  105-430 unknown  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus breeding  1987-1989  100-215 unknown  medium  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo breeding  2005-2006  1,000-3,500 unknown  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Sterna nilotica breeding  1987-1989  100-1,200 unknown  medium  A4i  Not Recognised 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds passage  2005  min 20,000 individuals  medium  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2006 medium not assessed not assessed
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture marine and freshwater aquaculture - subsistence/artisinal aquaculture happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Biological resource use fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Sarykamysh Nature Sanctuary or Partial Reserve 551,066 protected area contains site 196,422  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland)   100%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture 30%
nature conservation and research 70%

Protection status Sarygamysh Zakaznik of Gaplangyr Reserve.

References Ataýew, K., Amanow, A., Gajyýew, A. (2005) Vertebrate animals of Gaplangyr reserve and adjoining territories. A science and technics in Turkmenistan. Ashgabat. № 8.20-27 (in Turkmen). Bukeev, S.A. (1997) Ornithogeography and reservation matters in Turkmenistan. Moscow, 160 p. (in Russian). Velikanov, V.P., Hohlov, А.N. (1979) About ornithofauna and features of biology of waterfowl and water birds of Sarykamysh lake. The environment and birds of coasts of Caspian sea and adjoining lowlands. - Baku. С.236-240. (in Russian). Embergenov, S. Pavlovskaya, L.P, Mnajev, N. (1987) Structure and dynamics of zooplankton and zoobenthos of Sarykamysh lake. Hydrobiological journal. Vol. 23. №3. p. 24-30. (in Russian). Kucheruk,V.V.,.Hlyap L.A. (2005) Lagomorphs and rodents of deserts of Central Asia. Moscow. GEOS.328 p. (in Russian). Kes, А.S. (1987) History of Sarykamysh lake in a view of the new data received by remote methods. Problems of desert development. №1. p.36-41. (in Russian). Lyubeznov Yu.E (1991) To phytoplankton of Sarykamysh lake. Proceedings of the Turkmen Academy of Sciences. Biology Science. №6. p.9-15. (in Russian). Mansimov, М.R., Glazovskiy, V.А. (1988) Sarykamysh depression: problems and prospects. Problems of desert development. №4. p.71-72. (in Russian). Meredov K., Arazov, D., Amanov, A. (2004) Features of a vegetative cover of Gaplangyr reserve. Problems of desert development. №2. p.36-40. (in Russian). Kucheruk V.V (1995) Mammals of Turkmenistan. Vol.1. – Ashgabat Ylym..318 p. (in Russian). Rustamov А.К. (1948) About modern shape of fauna Sarykamysh depression. Paper of Academy of Science of USSR. LX. №8. p.1089-1092. (in Russian). Rustamov, А.К. (1954) Birds of desert Karakum. Ashkhabad, Publishing house AN TSSR. 344 p. (in Russian). Rustamov, А.К, Ptushenko E.S. (1959) Faunistic materials on ground vertebrate of the western and northeast Karakum. Turkmen State University . № IX. p.101-146. (in Russian). Sanin, М.V., Kostyukovskiy, V.I., Shaporenko, etc. (1991) Sarykamysh lake and reservoirs of collector-drainage waters. - Moscow. Nauka. 150 p. (in Russian). Soyunov O. (1991) Complexes of insects of Northern Karakum. Ashgabat. Ylym. 456 p. (in Russian). Strelkov, P.P., (1978) Bats (Chiroptera)of Turkmenistan. Functional morphology and systematization of mammals. Leningrad. p. 3-80. (in Russian). Tolstov, S.P., (1954) History of Sarykamysh lake in middle centuries. Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences of USSR. Geography Science.. №1. p.41-50. (in Russian). Chernov, V. Yu. (1990) Rare water birds of Sarykamysh lake. Materials of III ornithological conference, Bukhara, Fan. p. 46-49. (in Russian). Shammakov, S.(1984) Materials on herpetofauna of heights Gaplangyr and adjacent territory. Proceedings of the Turkmen Academy of Sciences. Biology Science. №6. p.37-38. (in Russian). Shubenkin V.P., Antipov, S.M. (1990) Ecology and protection of birds of prey of deserts of Southern Ustyurt and Sarygamysh depression. Wildlife management of Turkmenistan. №. 8. Ashkhabad. p.115-125. (in Russian). Shubenkin V.P. (1986) Efficiency of breeding and the reasons of nested death rate of birds of Southern Ustyurt desert. Actual problems of ornithology. Moscow. Nauka. p.116-123. (in Russian). Eminov, A. Sapamyraqdov, D. (1987) To ornithofauna some islands of Sarygamysh lake. Proceedings of the Turkmen Academy of Sciences. Biology Science. №2. p.17-21. (in Russian).

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