Avifauna of the Lake Systems in the Delta of the Syr Darya River (Lake Cartma)

Author Name(s): N.S. Sihanova, I.I. Rahimov
Author Email: muhtasar_08@mail.ru


The change in the indicator of specific variety and the quantitative structure of the population of birds in the system of lakes of the SyrDarya River delta (Lake Cartma)were analyzed by the authors. Since 2012, Syr Darya River lake system has been included in the Convention on the Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Wildlife Habitat, also called Ramsar Convention. Change in the level of the Syr Darya River directly affects water security of Lake Cartma. The object of the research is water objects, restored according to the program “Syr Darya Control and Northern Aral Sea” Project (SYNAS).Investigations were carried out for the purpose of studying the avifauna of Lake Cartma. Defining the status of residence of bird species in the restored zone of a coastal strip was a basic task. 59 bird species from 10 groups with total quantity of 3147 individuals were noted. According to the abundance of species of Lake Cartma, limnophiles are dominated (waders). The degree of dominance of avifauna species, their share in total quantity of bird species were considered in detail. The lake is characterized by a comparatively small number of birds and low population density of waterfowl. There were five species, listed in the Red Book of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Information is new for the studied object.


One of the most important environmental problems of our time is the regression of the Aral Sea. Beginning in the 1960’s, this phenomenon has not reached its apogee. The level of the reservoir has been fluctuating for about 60 years. However, except for some episodes with temporary stabilization, the overall trend shows a noticeable decline. Within this period, several stages were distinguished, such as, the separation of the Northern Aral Sea from the main reservoir in 1988, the separation of the Large Sea into the eastern and western Aral, and so on [1]. This study was conducted in the water area and the surrounding areas of Lake Cartma, which was separated from the eastern part of the Large Aral Sea, in the early 1990’s [2]. Lake Cartma, the flood zone of the Large Aral Sea, is located on the territory of the Aral region of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In the period until 2009, it had been occasionally drained. The current hydrological state is supported by the Syr Darya River through the Karateren Canal, as a result of the construction of the Aklak Dam [2-3]. In the biodiversity of the Northern Aral Sea (NAS) and the system of lakes of the Syr Darya River delta, avifauna is functioned as an indicator of the ecological state of water bodies and the Aral Sea region as a whole [3-4]. The contributing factor is the transit location of water bodies on the main migration route of birds, from wintering grounds of North Africa and South-East Asia to the nesting area in Central and Northern Kazakhstan, Siberia. Due to this, the areas of North Aral Sea and lakes of the Syr Darya River delta are used as a stopping point [5, P. 222]. After all, birds according to B.K. Shtegman (1938), “are extremely conservative in their distribution” [6].

After the putting in operation of the Kokaral dam and the Aklakhydrosystem, bird counts were carried out in the water area and the surrounding areas of the Northern Aral Sea, the Kamystybas, Akshatau, Aksai, Kuandarya lake systems. The avifauna of the coastal left-bank reservoirs, especially of Lake Cartma, had not been taken into account until 2014 [1, 3 -5, 7-10].

It is important to note the important environmental part of the SYNAS program (Syr Darya Control and Northern Aral Sea).As a result of restoration, the wetlands of the Northern Aral Sea and the system of lakes of the Syr Darya River delta were included in the list of key ornithological sites, protected by the international Ramsar Convention [8]. The fauna and especially the bird population of the Aral Sea and the delta of the Syr Darya River are well studied [1, 3-5, 7-11]. Therefore, the identification of characteristic features of the bird population of the investigated object is very important in ornitho-geographical terms.


Thus, as a result of the research, preliminary data on the diversity of the ornithocene of Lake Cartma were obtained. A total of 59 species of birds from 10 orders were defined. The development of aquatic vegetation, favorable conditions of the hydrological regime: depth, transparency and water temperature contribute to the active colonization of the studied area. It should be noted the facts of dense reed weediness and the presence of dense thickets of          typha, which provides protection for most birds from humans, dogs and predators. The relative poverty of the fauna is explained by the fact, that the lake systems of the Syr Darya River delta and the Aral Sea are currently under restoration and natural succession. Probably, the intensive siltation of reservoirs and the absence of direct communication between the lake and the Large Aral Sea play its role. However, Lake Cartma, like other reservoirs of the Syr Darya delta lake system, is gradually being restored, and takes a significant part in maintaining the biodiversity of the Aral Sea region, and also serves as a place of birds’ consolidation during the migration period.


The work is performed according to the Russian Government Program of Competitive Growth of Kazan Federal University.


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