The IBA is located in the western part of the large sea lagoon - the Bay of Garabogazgol - which is separated from the Caspian Sea by a long sandy isthmus. In the central part a narrow passage divides the isthmus into northern and southern sections. This passage, with a width of no more than 300 m and length of no more than 10 km, connects the sea to the bay. The bay has no constant inflows and receives water from the Caspian Sea. There is a delta area where deposition of inorganic substances (salts, sand crystals) and organic materials (seaweed, molluscs), create spits and small islands, a dynamic process affecting the delta and animal populations (fish and birds).
The avifauna includes not less than 280 species, of which 240 (86%) are passage-wintering birds, including 120 (43%) which are waterbirds, representing 46 and 23% respectively of the total avifauna of Central Asia.
Passeriformes are most numerous (96 species), followed by Haematopodidae (45), Anseriformes (28), Falconiformes (27) and Laridae (16). Typical species on migration are coots and ducks (Netta rufina, Aythya ferina, Anas platyrhynchos, Aythya fuligula, Aythya marila, Anas penelope etc.) plus waders, gulls and terns.
The IBA is located on a major flyway along the east coast of the Caspian. Waterbird spring migration has a high turnover rate, with migration beginning in the middle of March and finishing at the end of April. In the autumn migration shows several peaks and is prolonged, starting at the end of August and lasting to the beginning and middle of November.
Several migratory species in the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan (1999) have been recorded: Platalea leucorodia, Phoenicopterus roseus, Anthropoides virgo, Buteo buteo, Pandion haliaetus, Haliaeetus leucoryphus, Falco peregrinus, Circaetus gallicus, Burhinus oedicnemus, and also non-migratory - Aquila chrysaetos, Falco cherrug, Bubo bubo. The globally threatened Vanellus gregarius and Aquila heliaca have also been recorded.
Non-bird biodiversity: The fauna includes 40 species of mammal, half from which are rodents (21 species), the others being predators (8), chiropterans (5), insectivores (4), ungulates (2). Reptiles are represented by 30 species, the most significant being the snakes Natrix natrix and Natrix tessellata and the Central Asian agama (Agama sanguinolenta).
The flora includes more than 370 species of higher plants. The vegetation of the coast consists of halophytic and salsolas communities. Sandy areas though are fixed by vegetation, but it is sparse: ephedra, a few species of Calligonum, Salsola richteri, saxaul (Haloxylon persicum - rare). Carex physodes also occurs sparsely togther with ephemerals.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Currently the ecosystem of the IBA is considered to be in a safe condition. However potential threats are an increase in development of the extraction of various kinds of salts, and also collection of Artemia as forage for livestock; illegal hunting also occurs.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
No specific research and nature protection projects have been carried out. From 1970-1980 there were scattered zoological and botanical researches; also social and economically important research into stocks of Artemia (1996) and work by zoologists of the Turkmenbashy antiplague stations on the number of rodents (1960-80).
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Karabogaz. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 21/03/2023.