email a friend
printable version
Location Iran, Islamic Republic of, Golestan
Central coordinates 54o 38.00' East  37o 23.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2
Area 1,540 ha
Altitude 20 m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Site description The site comprises three small lakes, with associated marshes and intervening grassy steppe, on the Turkoman Steppes near the border with Turkmenistan, c.60 km north-north-east of Gorgan. Lake Alagol (37°21'N 54°35'E, 900 ha) lies c.6 km south-west of Lakes Ulmagol (37°25'N 54°38'E, 280 ha) and Ajigol (37°24'N 54°40'E, 360 ha); it is slightly saline and fed by seepage, springs and local run-off, flooding in winter and sometimes drying out completely in summer. When full, it overflows westwards. The lake is oligotrophic, supporting little vegetation. Lake Ulmagol and Lake Ajigol are eutrophic freshwater lakes fed by local rainfall in autumn and winter. Both are subject to wide fluctuations in water level, and occasionally dry out completely. The lakes rarely, if ever, freeze over in winter. Lake Alagol supports little aquatic vegetation except for some Juncus, Carex and grasses, mainly in the north-east, and a few small patches of Phragmites. Ulmagol and Ajigol support a more varied vegetation of Juncus, Lemna, Phragmites, Alhagi and algae. Much of Ajigol is overgrown with Phragmites, and the lake has some adjacent stands of Tamarix. The surrounding steppes are a vast gently undulating grassland with low sandy hills. There are several small settlements near the lake complex, and reed-cutting, grazing, wildfowl hunting and some fishing occur. Land ownership is public.

Key Biodiversity See box for key species. The lakes are utilized by a wide variety of waterfowl during the migration seasons and in winter, and are especially important for Phoenicopterus ruber, Anser anser, dabbling ducks, Netta rufina, Mergellus albellus and Fulica atra. Breeding species include Himantopus himantopus, Charadrius alexandrinus, Larus genei and Remiz pendulinus. Ciconia nigra has been recorded in summer and may breed.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus winter  1974  150 individuals  good  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Gadwall Mareca strepera winter  1970-1977  2,480 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula winter  1977-1992  510-4,000 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala winter  1975  19 individuals  good  A1  Endangered 
Great White Egret Ardea alba winter  1970-1977  278 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
White-tailed Sea-eagle Haliaeetus albicilla winter  1977  9 individuals  good  A1, B2  Least Concern 
Common Coot Fulica atra winter  1970-1977  50,750 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Himantopus himantopus breeding  1977  60 breeding pairs  good  B1i  Not Recognised 
Mew Gull Larus canus winter  1977  300 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Larus cachinnans winter  1987-1992  1,000 individuals  good  B1i  Not Recognised 
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus winter  1987-1992  2,500 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  1970-1977  50,000-99,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

1994 high not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Alagol, Ulmagol and Ajigol Lakes Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 1,400 protected area contained by site 1,400  


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
rangeland/pastureland minor
fisheries/aquaculture minor
other minor
Notes: reed-cutting
hunting minor
nature conservation and research 91%

Acknowledgements Data-sheet compiled by Dr D. A. Scott, reviewed by Dept of Environment.

References Carp (1980), Ramsar Convention Bureau (1993), Scott (1976a,c).

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Lake Alagol, Lake Ulmagol and Lake Ajigol. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife