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Location Iran, Islamic Republic of, Khuzestan
Central coordinates 48o 40.00' East  30o 10.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2
Area 425,140 ha
Altitude 0 - 15m
Year of IBA assessment 1994





Site description Lying at the head of the Persian Gulf near Abadan, the site comprises the southern portion of the extensive flood-plain and delta system of the Karun, Dez and several other major rivers which rise in the north-west Zagros Mountains. The better-drained areas in the north support fresh to brackish sedge marshes dominated by Scirpus which give way to salt-tolerant vegetation in the central flood-plain and bare, dry mudflats in the south, dominated by Tamarix (Shadegan Marshes, 30°20'N 48°20'E, 282,500 ha). The coastal zone comprises extensive intertidal mudflats, creeks, sandbanks and low muddy islands (Khor-al Amaya, 30°00'N 48°40'E, 19,200 ha; Khor Musa, 30°10'N 49°00'E, 123,440 ha). Autumn and winter rains in the high Zagros cause extensive flooding, creating a vast complex of shallow lagoons which may dry out completely by the end of the summer. The Ahwaz-Abadan road passes along the west side of the site, while the main highway from Abadan to the port of Bandar-e Shahpur runs west to east across the southern edge of the marshes. Summer temperatures are extremely high, with means of over 45°C in July and over 7°C in January; frosts are rare. Precipitation is largely in winter, with an abrupt onset in November and terminating more gradually in April-May. Run-off peaks in late winter, when discharge from the Karun river may be ten times greater than in late summer. The wetland is bordered by barren flats to the north, east and north-west, but there is a large area of rice fields, date gardens and human settlement to the north-east. The land is publicly owned.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Northern Pintail Anas acuta winter  1970-1977  237,000 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Greylag Goose Anser anser winter  1977-1992  2,080-3,500 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna winter  1977-1992  80-3,720 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Gadwall Anas strepera winter  1977-1992  9,050-10,000 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope winter  1970-1977  9,050 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos winter  1977-1992  4,800-9,500 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata winter  1970-1977  16,980 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Garganey Anas querquedula passage  1977  12,500 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Common Teal Anas crecca winter  1970-1977  348,000 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris winter  1970-1977  15,000-20,000 individuals  good  A1, A4i, B1i, B2  Vulnerable 
Common Pochard Aythya ferina winter  1977-1992  110-10,050 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca breeding  1977  4 breeding pairs  good  B1i  Near Threatened 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca winter  1970-1977  10 individuals  good  B1i  Near Threatened 
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus winter  1977-1992  1,650-8,260 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
White Stork Ciconia ciconia winter  1970-1977  1,340 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, B2  Least Concern 
African Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus winter  1972-1977  8 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris breeding  1977  6 breeding pairs  good  B2  Least Concern 
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides breeding  1977  100 breeding pairs  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea winter  1970-1977  670 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Little Egret Egretta garzetta breeding  1977  100 breeding pairs  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Little Egret Egretta garzetta winter  1987-1992  350 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus winter  1977  75 individuals  good  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga winter  1977  9 individuals  good  B2  Vulnerable 
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca winter  1977  10-19 individuals  good  A1, B2  Vulnerable 
Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus winter  1970-1977  1,820 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus resident  1977  60 breeding pairs  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus winter  1970-1977  800 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta winter  1977-1992  172-883 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
White-tailed Lapwing Vanellus leucurus winter  1970-1977  320 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Common Redshank Tringa totanus winter  1970-1977  1,260 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa winter  1970-1977  750 individuals  good  B1i  Near Threatened 
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica winter  1970-1977  2,120 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata winter  1970-1977  950 individuals  good  B1i  Near Threatened 
Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans winter  1977  3,000 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus winter  1970-1977  12,000 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei breeding  1977  400-800 breeding pairs  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei winter  1970-1977  5,000 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica breeding  1977  100-200 breeding pairs  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica winter  1970-1977  1,820 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Little Tern Sterna albifrons breeding  1977  150-250 breeding pairs  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida winter  1977  270 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  1970-1977  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Shadegan Wildlife Refuge 327,765 protected area contained by site 296,000  
Shadegan Marshes and mudflats of Khor-al Amaya and Khor Musa Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 400,000 protected area contained by site 400,000  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   minor
Wetlands (inland)   36%
Coastline   34%
Desert   minor
Artificial - aquatic   minor
Shrubland   minor
Sea   minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 70%
agriculture minor

Other biodiversity None known to BirdLife International.

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

References Carp (1980), IUCN (1991), Ramsar Convention Bureau (1993), Scott (1972c, 1975b, 1976a,c, 1978a, 1991, in press), Scott and Carp (1972), Summers et al. (1987).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Shadegan marshes and tidal mudflats of Khor-al Amaya and Khor Musa. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/04/2014

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