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Location Iran, Islamic Republic of, Fars
Central coordinates 52o 48.00' East  29o 30.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2
Area 21,600 ha
Altitude 1,480 m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Site description A large, shallow, saline lake at 1,480 m in the Shiraz basin of the southern Zagros. The lake is fed by the run-off from numerous small ephemeral wadis, by the Pul-i-Fasa stream in the west, and by numerous small springs around the shore, and covers 21,600 ha at maximum extent of flooding. Much the largest perennial springs are at Barmishur at the north-west corner and at Ab-e Paravan in the north, both creating pools c.2 m deep which overflow into extensive permanent marshes with Phragmites and Typha as well as feeding open marsh communities dominated by sedges, rushes and Chara. At maximum extent, the Barmishur marshes cover c.150 ha and Ab-e Paravan 250 ha. Water level varies widely with rainfall, and in prolonged droughts the entire lake dries out except for the pools at Barmishur and Ab-e Paravan. The lake shores support salt-tolerant plant communities dominated by Tamarix, Suaeda and Salicornia. The lake is bounded by limestone hills to the north and dry steppe to east and south. Land to the west (towards Shiraz) is largely under irrigated cultivation for rice, wheat, barley, melons, cotton and sugar beet. The lake is used for salt production and there are numerous large salt pans, particularly in the eastern portion. There is some livestock grazing and reed-cutting in the Barmishur and Ab-e Paravan marshes.

Key Biodiversity See boxes for key species. Lake Maharlu is important for a wide variety of resident and migratory waterfowl, notably surface-feeding ducks, geese, flamingos, cranes and some shorebirds. Other breeding species include Porzana pusilla, Himantopus himantopus, Vanellus leucurus and Sterna albifrons. Wintering waterfowl have included especially Pelecanus onocrotalus, Anser anser, Tadorna ferruginea, T. tadorna, Anas crecca, M. angustirostris, Grus grus, Himantopus himantopus, Recurvirostra avosetta and Vanellus leucurus. In good numbers on passage are Phoenicopterus ruber, T. ferruginea and A. crecca, and several Aquila clanga winter.

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  1971-1975  40-102 individuals  good  A1  Vulnerable 
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea passage  1977  2,200 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea winter  1977-1992  570-6,255 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna winter  1977-1992  460-950 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Gadwall Mareca strepera winter  1977-1992  50-1,405 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos winter  1977-1992  2,150-8,000 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Common Teal Anas crecca passage  1977  16,500 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris breeding  1972  10 breeding pairs  good  A1  Vulnerable 
Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris winter  1972  37 individuals  good  A1  Vulnerable 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni breeding  1977  20 breeding pairs  good  A1, B2  Least Concern 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni passage  1977  100 individuals  A1, B2  Least Concern 
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga winter  1977  6 individuals  good  B2  Vulnerable 
Common Crane Grus grus passage  1977  350 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Common Crane Grus grus winter  1977-1992  231-2,134 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Himantopus himantopus winter  1977-1992  110-260 individuals  good  B1i  Not Recognised 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta winter  1977-1992  75-220 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus winter  1977-1992  900-5,400 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  1977-1992  20,000-49,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland)   100%
Grassland   minor
Artificial - terrestrial   minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
urban/industrial/transport major
Notes: salt-production
agriculture major
rangeland/pastureland minor
other minor
Notes: reed-cutting

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

References Cornwallis (1968), Fotoohi and Scott (1975), Scott (1976a,c), Summers et al. (1987).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Lake Maharlu. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016

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