Long-term changes in population and diversity of the wintering waterbirds in the wetlands and southern coast of the Caspian Sea

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Research Group of Biodiversity and Biosafety, Research Center for Environment and Sustainable Development (RCESD), Department of Environment, Tehran, iRAN

2 Gilan Provincial Office of Environment, Rasht, Iran


In this study, trends in population and species diversity of wintering waterbirds in the south Caspian Sea region, based on mid-winter censuses of waterbirds over a thirty-year period from 1988 to 2017, have been studied. The trends in population and the ecological indicators of biodiversity were respectively calculated using the RTRIM statistical package (TRends and Indices for Monitoring Data in R software) and the software SDR-IV (Species Diversity and Richness). Results showed that the average number of waterbirds in the whole Caspian region for the last thirty years was 947,853±71,073 with a range of 326.281-1.934,226 individuals. The share of Mazandaran province alone was more than the other two provinces during the study period. The total number of waterbirds recorded increased in 2004 and then formed a stable trend. Calculation of the statistical trend of changes over the 30 years in the waterbirds population size of the south Caspian region indicated a slight increase with a slope of 3.3% per year, but over the last ten years, the population has gradually declined, showing a 2.7% decrease over this latter period. The results for species diversity indices (Shannon-Wiener and Simpson D), species richness (Margalf and Minhinick), and species evenness (Pielou and Simpson E) confirmed that high values ​​of species diversity and richness and low values ​​of species evenness indices during the period of 2004-2009 were basically due to the increase in the number of species recorded and conducting more accurate censuses backed by a comprehensive census program and the participation of foreign birdwatchers. The results of this study can play a practical role in informing the ecological management of the wetlands and southern coast of the Caspian Sea.


Ahmadpour, M., Karimi, M. H. S., Ghasempouri, S.M., Ahmadpour, M., Yaghobzadeh, Y., 2011. A three years study of the diversity and density of waterfowl and waders in Sorkhrud International Wetland (October 2007 March 2010). Scientific Research and Essays 6(30), 6317-6324. (In Persian)
Amat, J.A., Green, A.J., 2010. Waterbirds as Bioindicators of environmental conditions, in: Hurford, C., Scheider, M. and Cowx, I. (Eds.). Conservation Monitoring in freshwater habitats. A practical guide and case studies. Springer. The Netherlands. pp: 45-52.
Amini, H., van Roomen, M., 2009. Waterbirds in Iran, January 2009. Results of a mid-winter count in the provinces of Gilan, Mazanderan, Golestan, Fars, Khuzestan, Bushehr, Hormozgan & Sistan-Baluchistan. Department of Environment, Islamic Republic of Iran & Foundation Working Group International Waterbird and Wetland Research, The Netherlands.
Amini, H., Willems, F., 2004. Waterbirds in Iran, January 2004. Results of a midwinter count in the provinces of Gilan, Mazandaran, Khuzestan, Hormuzgan & Sistan-Baluchestan, DOE, Tehran, 120 p.
Amini H., Willems, F., 2008. Waterbirds in Iran, January 2007. Results of a mid-winter count in the provinces of West-Azerbaijan, Gilan, Mazandaran, Golestan, Sistan- Baluchistan, Hormozgan, Fars, Busher & Khuzestan, DOE, Tehran, 390 p.
Ashoori, A., 2009. Endangered and protected birds of Gilan province. Katibeh Gil, 106 p. (In Persian)
Ashoori, A., 2008. Birds Offered for Sale in the Langarud Market, Southwestern Caspian Sea. Podoces 3(1/2), 92-96.
Ashoori, A., Naderi, S., Zolfinezhad, K., 2010. A Three-year Survey of the status of wintering migratory waterbirds in Southern shores of Caspian Sea. Forth National Seminar on Chemisty and Environment. Persian Gulf and Oman Sea Ecological Research Institute, Iran.
Ashoori, A., Abdoos, A., 2013. Important wetland habitats for the waterbirds of Gilan. Katibeh Gil, Iran. (In Persian).
Ashoori, A., Amini, H., Khaleghizadeh, A., Manolopoulos, A., Catsadorakis, G., 2019. What caused the impressive increase of Dalmatian pelicans Pelecanus crispus wintering in Iran in the period 1998-2017. Zoology in the Middle East 65(4), 307-318.
Ashoori, A., Yousefi, M., Tayefeh, F.H., 2020. Changes in the diversity and abundance of wintering waterbirds within protected areas in Anzali International Wetland complex. Experimental Animal Biology 9(1), 29-40. (In Persian)
Ashoori, A., Zolfinezhad, K., 2006. A three- year survey of the status of birds in Bujagh National Park. Journal of Environmental Sciences 11(2), 11-22.
Ashoori, A., Varasteh Moradi, H., 2014. Diversity study of wintering waterfowls and waders in Anzali wetland, Iran. Wetland Ecobiology 6(2), 55-66. (In Persian)
Attarod, P., Kheirkhah, F., Khalighi Sigaroodi, Sh., Sadeghi, M., Bayramzadeh, V., 2017. Trend analysis of meteorological parameters and reference evapotranspiration in the Caspian region. Iranian Journal of Forest 9(2), 171-185. (In Persian)
Balmaki B., Behrouzi-Rad B., Barati A., 2005. Survey of determination of hunting rate of migrant waterbirds in Gilan province. Journal of Environmental Studies 36, 41-50. (In Persian)
Behrouzi-rad, B., Hasanzadeh Kiabi, B., Ghaemi, R., 2012. Investigation of density, Diversity and Population trend of wintering waterbirds in Golmishan in ternational wetland in Golestan Province (2007-2012). Wetland Ecobiology 13(4), 63-73. (In Persian)
Behrouzi-Rad, B., Riahi, A., Khaleghizadeh, A., 2002. Survey of biodiversity changes of waterfowls and waders in Selkeh and Siah-Keshim (Espand Class) International wetlands. Journal of Environment Studies 29, 21-33. (In Persian)
Boere, G.C., Galbraith, C.A., Stroud D.A., 2006. Waterbirds Around the World, The Stationery Office, Edinburgh, UK.
Bogaart, P., van der Loo, M., Pannekoek, J., 2020. rtrim. Version 2.1.1. Available from https://github.com/markvanderloo/rtrim. Accessed 20th April 2021.
Bohning‐Gaese, K., Lemoine, N., 2004. Importance of climate change for the ranges, communities and conservation of birds, Advances in Ecological Research 35, 211-236.
Cody, M.L., 1974. Competition and the structure of bird communities, Princeton Univ Press, New Jersey, USA.
 Dehbashi, M,. Azarmsa, S. A, Vafakhah, M., 2017. Water Level Fluctuation Analysis and Forecast in the Caspian Sea Using Stochastic Time Series models. Journal of Marine Engineering 25(13), 23-33.
Delany, S., Scott, D., 2006. Waterbird Population Estimates Fourth Edition. 2006: Wetlands International. Wageningen. The Netherland.
Ghasemi, N, Kalteh, H., 2015. Investigation of the reasons for illegal hunting of fishing in Mazanderan and Golestan province, and Presentation of legal ways to reduce violation. Journal of Environmental Science and Technology 16, 391-400. (In Persian)
Hubbell, S.P., 2005. Neutral theory in community ecology and the hypothesis of functional equivalence, Functional Ecology 19(1), 166-172.
Jafari, M., 2008. Investigation and analysis of climate change factors in Caspian Zone forests for last fifty years, Iranian Journal of Forest and Poplar Research 16(2), 314-326. (In Persian)
Kosarev, A., 2005 Physico-Geographical Conditions of the Caspian Sea, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 5, 5-31.
Kostiushyn, V., Andryuschenko, Yu., Goradze, I., Abuladze, A., Mamuchadze, J. Erciyas, K., 2011. Wintering Waterbird Census in the Azov– Black Sea Coastal Wetlands of Ukraine, Georgia and Turkey. Wetlands International Black Sea Programme, Ukraine, 130 p.
Krebs, C.J., 1994. Ecology: The Experimental Analysis of Distribution and Abundance, New York: Harper Collins College Publishers, 653 p.
Liordos, V., Pergantis, F., Perganti, I. Roussopoulos, Y., 2014, Long-term population trends reveal increasing importance of a Mediterranean wetland complex (Messolonghi lagoons, Greece) for wintering waterbirds, Zoological Studies 53, 1-12.
Magurran, A.E., 2004. Measuring Biological Diversity, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
McDonald, K.W., McClure, C.J.W., Rolek, B.W., Hill G.E., 2012. Diversity of birds in eastern North America shifts north with global warming, Ecology and Evolution 2, 3052-3060.
Musil, P., Musilová, Z., Fuchs, R., Poláková, S., 2011. Long-term changes in numbers and distribution of wintering waterbirds in the Czech Republic, 1966–2008 Bird Study 58(4), 450-460.
Musilova´, Z., Musil, P., Pola´kova´, S., Fuchs, R., 2009. Wintering ducks in the Czech Republic: changes in their population trends and distribution, Wildfowl Special Issue 2, 73-85.
Nagy, S., and Langendoen, T., 2017. Flyway trend analyses based on data from the African-Eurasian Waterbird Census from the period of 1967-2015, Wetlands International. The Netherlands.
Nagy, S., Langendoen, T., 2020. Flyway trend analyses based on data from the AfricanEurasian Waterbird Census from the period of 1967-2018. Online publication. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands. URL:http://iwc.wetlands.org/index.php/aewatrends8.
Nilsson, L. 2005. Long-term Trends and Changes in Numbers and Distribution of Some Wintering Waterfowl Species Along the Swedish Baltic Coast, Acta Zoologica Lituanica 15(2), 151-157.
Nilsson, L., 2008. Changes in numbers and distribution of wintering waterfowl in Sweden during forty years, 1967–2006, Ornis Svecic18, 135-236.
Panin G. N., 2007. Caspian Sea Level Fluctuations as a consequence of regional Climatic Change. Hamburg: 216-219.
Pannekoek, J., Van Strien, A.J., 2005. TRIM 3 Manual (TRends and Indices for Monitoring Data), Statistics Netherlands, Voorburg, The Netherlands.
Pielou E. C. (1975) Ecological Diversity, New York, Wiley Inter Science.
Riazi, B., Armandahi, A., 2008. Study on the Wintering water birds of Gilan, Mazandaran and Golestan, and ranking the wetland areas based on the bird criteria. Journal of Environmental Studies 46, 89-100. (In Persian)
Safari, A., Kalantarioun, S., Amin, H., 2015. Modeling instantaneous water level changes of Caspian Sea using satellite altimetry observations. Journal of the Earth and Space Physics 41(2), 281-299.
Schreiber, E., Burger, J., 2002. Biology of marine birds, Boca Raton, USA: Boca Raton, Florida, USA: CRC Press.
Scott, D.A., 2010. Results of Mid-winter Waterbird Counts in Iran in the Early 1970s, Podoces 5(1), 11-28.
Seaby, R.M., Henderson, P.A., 2006. Species Diversity and Richness version 4, Pisces Conservation Ltd., Lymington, England.
Shannon C. E. and Weaver W., 1949. The Mathematical Theory of Communication, University of Illions Press, Urbana, USA, 117 p.
Simpson, E.H., 1949. Measurement of diversity, Nature 163, 688.
Tayefeh, F.H., Izadian, M., Ashoori, A., Jolaee L., Ebrahimi, E., 2021. Trends of waterbirds population changes in Fars province wetlands 1988-2018, Environmental Sciences 19(1), 177-196. (In Persian)
Tuomisto, H., 2010. A consistent terminology for quantifying species diversity? Yes, it does exist, Oecologia 164(4), 853-860.
Van Roomen, M., van Winden, E., van Diek, H., 2008. Iran-Dutch co-operation in Waterbird Monitoring 2004-2007 DoE, Islamic Republic of Iran & WIWO, The Netherlands, 32 p.
Wetlands International, 2015. Report on the Conservation Status of Migratory Waterbirds in the Agreement Area - Sixth Edition (CSR6), UNEP/AEWA/MOP6.14. UNEP/AEWA, Bonn, Germany. URL: http://www.unep-aewa.org/en/document/report-conservation-status-migratory-waterbirds-agreement-area-sixth-edition.
Wetlands International, 2012. Waterbird Population Estimates. Fifth Edition. Summary Report. Wetlands International. Wageningen. The Netherlands, 28 p.
Whittaker, R.H., 1977. Evolution of species diversity in land communities. Evolutionary Biology 10, 1-67.