Zoogeographical results of the bicentennial study of the northern part of the asian population of Phoenicopterus roseus
Authors: Kassal B.Yu.
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Over a period of 205 years, there have been carried out dozens of censuses of nests and nesting bird individuals, summerings and non-nesting bird individuals, winterings and wintering bird individuals, the determinations of migration routes in the Caspian region and across the Caspian Sea, in Central and Southern Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Russia. Until the early XXI century, the main flamingo nesting sites were located in the Caspian region and along the Caspian Sea within the Russian Empire / USSR / Commonwealth of Independent States. It was found that such a geographical distribution of flamingo nesting sites was established until 1930 by the relative stability of the global climate conditions in northern Eurasia that have caused the stand of water level in the Caspian Sea.
During this period, in the northern part of the Asian population the monitoring of the flamingo had the form of collecting mainly qualitative information. Amongst these are the determination of the locations of breeding sites, summerings and winterings; the bird's abundance was characterised mainly using the epithets. The next period (from 1931 to 1977) was caused by the development of anthropogenic influences and by changes of global climatic conditions in northern Eurasia, which have caused a decrease in the water level in the Caspian Sea. Environmental effects of the hydrological regime changes were the most significant in the shallow north-eastern part of the Caspian Sea. The breeding sites and the summerings (that were located there) had changed dislocation. Sometimes such a dislocation was observed over a wide area, up to the complete loss of breeding sites and summerings. During this period, the observations had the character of quantative information collecting and clarification of qualitative data: determination of new locations of breeding sites, duration of their existence, location of summerings and winterings, sizes of flocks and groupings, and disappearance reasons of the flamingo from former habitats. The persistent reduction of the Caspian Sea area, as well as the drying up of several sea gulfs, had caused the emergence of permanent breeding colonies on the lakes of Central Kazakhstan (Lake Shalkartenize, Lake Tengiz). The decrease in the level of continental waterbodies in Central Kazakhstan had caused an increase of their nesting and feeding properties: formed shoals became the sites of feeding and breeding of flamingos. Significant annual and long-term fluctuations of the water level in the lakes had become the reason of the periodic disappearance of flamingo colonies on certain lakes and their emergence of those on other lakes. During 1978–2015 the monitoring of flamingos in the northern part of the range of the Asian population were aimed at obtaining qualitative and quantitative indicators of nesting sites, summerings and winterings in conditions of increasing of the Caspian Sea level, the fluctuations of the water content in Central Kazakhstan, the refinement of migration dates, the spring and autumn migration routes.
The placement of the major part of flamingos on the water bodies of Central Kazakhstan by the end of the XX century has contributed to the final formation of the flight route, which had connected these habitats with areas previously populated along the Caspian Sea. In the early XXI century the permanent reproductive centre in the northern part of the Asian flamingo population remained the breeding colony on Lake Tengiz. Available data have formed the necessary information base for further quantitative and qualitative assessment of the northern part of the Asian population over three time periods caused by the state of the Caspian Sea, waterbodies of the Caspian region and Central Kazakhstan, each of which had specific characteristics that determine the placement of nesting colonies, summerings, winterings, routes of seasonal and inter-seasonal migrations in the northern part of the range of flamingos and beyond.