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Protected areas in the Caspian basin

Year: 2013 Author: GRID-Arendal
The biological diversity of the Caspian Sea and its coastal zone makes the region particularly significant. One of the most important characteristics of the Caspian Sea’s biodiversity is the relatively high level of endemic species among its fauna (UNDP 2009b). The highest number of endemic species across the various taxa is found in the mid Caspian Sea region, while the greatest diversity is found in the northern section of the Caspian Basin. The coastal region is characterized by a wide range of habitats; these include habitats in vast river systems and extensive wetlands such as the deltas of the Volga, Ural and Kura rivers, the wetland systems along the Iranian coast and the exceptionally saline bay of the Kara-Bogaz-Gol Gulf. At the other extreme, habitats are also found in the sandy and rocky deserts on the Caspian Sea’s eastern coast (Solberg et al. 2006). The wetlands in the region play a significant role as a feeding and resting area for migratory birds. However, due to various human activities, plus threats from invasive species, climate change and fluctuations in the water levels of the Caspian Sea, coastal habitats are constantly changing and biodiversity is declining (CEP 2007a).
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