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Location Turkmenistan, Mary
Central coordinates 62o 38.10' East  36o 22.11' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4i, A4iii
Area 7,601 ha
Altitude 365 - 542m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

BirdLife Central Asia Programme (BirdLife Direct Action Programme)

Site description The IBA covers the Saryyazy water reservoir in the Murgab river valley located 145 km to the south of Mary city, in Mary region. The reservoir became operative in 1959, and in 1978 it was considerably expanded and deepened. The IBA includes not only the water surface but also the shore zone with hygrophilous vegetation – reed and tamarix. The IBA is 19 km from south to north with a width of 5 km. The reservoir has a sandy shore, steep on the right (east) and sloping on the left (west). The southern part is shallow, the northern, at the dam, deep. Water levels depend on the flooding mode of the Murgab river. Usually water builds up in the winter and spring, and decreases during summer-autumn.

Key Biodiversity The avifauna of the Murgab valley, in particular around the Saryyazy reservoir, includes more than 200 species, including Pelecaniformes - 3, Anatinae - 11, birds of prey - 14, cranes - 1, Charadrii - 20, Laridae - 10, pigeons - 5, martins - 1, passerines - 95 species (Eminov, Kekilova, 1976).

Non-bird biodiversity: The fauna of the IBA includes 22 species of fish (Aliev et al, 1994), 2 species of amphibian (green toad and lake frog), 28 species of reptiles (Shammakov, 1981) and more than 50 species of mammal. Typical reptiles of the sandy shore are Agrionemys horsfieldi, Trapelus sanguinolentus, Phrynocephalus interscapularis, Eremias grammica, Psammophis lineolatus, Eryx miliaris, Colubridae and cobra (Naja oxiana). Mammals include Vulpes cana, Vulpes corsac, Meriones libycus, M. meridianus, Rhombomys opimus, Spermophilopsis leptodactylus, Hemiechinus auritus, Lepus tolai, jerboas, porcupine and wild boar. The flora is that of sandy-desert and tugai with saxaul, tamarix, Calligonum, Ephedra, Salsola richteri and other bushes.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina passage  2006  3,000 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus passage  2006  7-46 individuals  good  A1  Vulnerable 
Pygmy Cormorant Microcarbo pygmaeus resident  2006  1,100 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Pallid Scops-owl Otus brucei breeding  2006  2 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
European Roller Coracias garrulus breeding  2006  70 individuals  good  A1  Least Concern 
Parus bokharensis resident  2006  4 individuals  medium  A3  Not Recognised 
Streaked Scrub-warbler Scotocerca inquieta resident  2006  2 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Desert Finch Rhodopechys obsoletus breeding  2006  10 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Red-headed Bunting Emberiza bruniceps breeding  2006  6 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds passage  2006  min 20,000 individuals  medium  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2007 low not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Biological resource use fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: large scale happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Low bushes; Scrub  42%
Desert Desert & semi-desert - sandy  34%
Wetlands (inland) Rivers & streams; Standing brackish & salt water; Water-fringe vegetation  24%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
water management 60%
fisheries/aquaculture 30%
rangeland/pastureland 10%

References Aliev D.S., Sukhanova A.I., Shakirova F.M., Malahova T.V. (1994). Phytophagous fishes in Turkmenistan. Аshgabat.Ylym. (in russian). Dementyev P.G. (1952) Birds of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, Proceedings of the Turkmen Academy of Sciences TSSR, Volume 1. 546p.(in russian). Rustamov A.K. (1985) Red Data Book of the TSSR. Ashgabat. Turkmenistan. (in russian). Rajapov M. R. (1999) Red Data Book of Turkmenistan. Volume 1. Invertebrates and vertebrate animals. Ashgabat.Turkmenistan. (in russian). Kuchuruk V., Tashlyev A.O. (1995) Mammals of Turkmenistan. Vol.1, Аshgabat,Ylym. (in russian). Kuchuruk V. (2005) Lagomorpha and rodents of deserts of Central Asia. Мoscow. GEOS. 328 p. (in russian). Rustamov A.K. (1958) Birds of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, Proceedings of the Turkmen Academy of Sciences TSSR, Volume 2. 333p. (in russian). Eminov A., Kekilova A.F. (1976) Preliminary data about spring migration of birds in valley of Murgab river. Birds migrations in Asia. Alma-Ata, "Science". (in russian).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Saryyazy. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016

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