Immense numbers of waterbirds breed in the delta, including 56,800_pairs of herons (Ardeidae), cormorants Phalacrocorax, Plegadis falcinellus and Platalea leucorodia alone, although this total has decreased in recent years. During migration, a total of 7_million waterbirds pass through the area in spring, and 5--10_million in the autumn. The number of waterfowl overwintering in the delta depends on the severity of the weather, but can include important numbers of Cygnus cygnus.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
The site is included in the list of Ramsar Sites for Russia (confirmed by the government in 1995). Also part of the area is covered by the Astrakhan Biosphere Reserve. Many scientific and monitoring projects are ongoing here. In 1983 small areas were covered also by Nature Monuments: "Staroigolkinski" (6 ha), "Khazovski" (6 ha) and "Gandurinski" (5 ha).
Habitat and land use
The largest delta in Europe, on the northern Caspian sea coast, with freshwater channels and lakes, extensive coastal shallows, alluvial islands and spits.Sea-level rise is a problem.