Birds of the Mesopotamian Marshes of Iraq.
Salim, Mudhafar*,1, Porter, Richard*,2, Rubec, Clayton*,3, 1 Iraq Nature Conservation Society, Baghdad, Iraq2 Birdlife International, Cambridge CB3 ONA, U.K.3 Environment Canada and University of Waterloo, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
ABSTRACT- Iraq is situated in the south-east corner of the western Palearctic biogeographical realm. The marshes in southern Iraq are one of the principal wintering areas for migrating waterfowl in western Eurasia. Though incomplete, a survey in 1979 found over 324,000 waterfowl (e.g. pelicans, flamingos, geese, ducks, coots, shorebirds, gulls, and terns) of 79 species. The Mesopotamian marshes are important for several globally threatened and endemic species. About 40 Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) were recognized in site inventories largely completed before 1979. Many of these sites were regarded to have good potential as future Ramsar sites having wetlands of international significance. There has been little systematic survey of the birds since then. A new expanded survey initiated in 2004-2005 returned to some of the KBAs and other new areas to check current status of birds and acquire up-to-date information on other important habitat parameters. Preliminary results of the survey found many important species in newly inundated areas, but not in numbers approaching known historical estimates.
Key words: marshes, Mesopotamia, Iraq, birds
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