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Protected forests of the Amudarya

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Protected forests of the Amudarya
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Igor Lomov

The Amudarya State Nature Reserve is located in the northeastern part of the Lebap velayat of Turkmenistan on an area of forty-eight thousand hectares. Different complexes of ecosystems are presented here in terms of landscape and composition of biodiversity: the water area of the Amudarya River, the forest along the banks of the river and the Kyzylkum Desert. Dune sands, saline with rare shrubs and plains with moist floodplains, where marsh-meadow vegetation has richly grown, coexist nearby.

The reserve has Kelif State Nature Reserve, which covers an area of 103,000 hectares on the territory of the Halach and Atamyrat etraps. The reserve was established to protect an important wintering area for water birds and the entire natural complex of the Kelif Lakes. The existence and natural development of the local ecosystems are closely related to the hydrological regime of the river, which in the distant past changed its course and broke through new branches, as well as periodic floods.

Along the banks of the river, trees and shrubs and tall grasses form impenetrable dense and rich jungles. More than 200 species of higher vascular plants have been found here. Particularly rare here are the poplar, included in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as well as the fern discovered in 2005 - Egyptian marsilia, which is listed in the Red Book of Turkmenistan. The fauna of the forest is quite peculiar. Scientists have identified 80 species of spiders, many of which are described for the first time. In the trees, weevils are numerous, and among the dunes, dark beetles, night butterflies, lacewings, ants and ground beetles are distinguished by a wide variety of species.

The territory of the Amudarya Reserve is located along the route of seasonal migrations of migratory birds. In different seasons of the year, up to 260 species can be counted within the reserve. Amudarya pheasant constantly lives in the tugai, in the desert - the sonorous lark, wheatear, black-bellied grouse. Rock dove, bee-eater, hoopoe nest on the cliffs of the remnants. Gray and red herons, kingfisher, various types of sandpiper are kept by the water. In the desert part of the reserve, the Central Asian tortoise (listed in the IUCN Red List), steppe agama, sandy roundhead, reticulated foot-and-mouth disease, arrow-snake can be seen. On the territory of the Amudarya Reserve, the “Red Book” reptiles reticulated roundhead live.