adult armenicus: February
PDF: ARMENIA -
Political Administrative Region (marz): Gegharkunik (region of Lake Sevan)
The climate of Gegharkunik is mild mountainous. The winter is cold, snowy. The summer is warm, few clouds, comparatively humid weather. The Sevan Lake mitigates the winter frost and summer heat. Because of the lake, the average temperature in January is alsmost the same as in Yerevan. Precipitation is not abundant, 400-450mm on the lake surface, up to 1000 in the mountains.
The Lake Sevan (1260 km2, is 1898m above sea level ) is located in RA Gegharkunik marz, which is of particular importance not only for the marz but for the republic as well. It is the largest pool of fresh water of the Southern Caucasus. The lake has vital influence not only on balance of environment protection but on economy of the whole marz as well. Other lakes are comparatively small lakes of crater lakes of Ajdahak and Aghmaghani, - up to 50 m in diameter and at a depth of 15 m.
The longest rivers Gavaraget (47 km) and Masrik (45 km) are the longest rivers. Masrik is of great importance, since its a spawning place for such endemic species as Gegharkunik trout (Salmo ishchan gegarkuni), Sevan koghak (Capoeta capoeta sevangi ) and Sevan beghlu (Barbus geokschaikus). Besides, the young fish of the aforementioned species also live in these rivers till 1 year of age. This period is very important for the future survival of the species. The Sevan trout (Salmo ischchan) and Sevan beghlu are included in the Red Book of Armenia.
Specially Protected Areas
"Sevan" national park
"Sevan" national park was established to protect Lake Sevan, is located in the territory of the marz (founded in 1978). It occupies the territories of the Lake Sevan comprising the bed of intermontane concavity of Sevan and those freed from its bed. The surface area comprises 150.1 ths. ha, 24.9 ths. ha of which are lakeside land territories. It is surrounded with the slopes of mountain chains of Areguni, Geghama, Vardenis, Pambak and Sevan. The species of 1600 plants and 330 animals are preserved here. The park is divided into 3 zones: a reserve, a recreation zone and a zone for economic use.
Scientific knowledge about the mammals of the Sevan basin is quite poor and fragmental. Wolf, jackal, fox, marten, cat, hare, small rodents are usually mentioned.
Sevan lake and its vicinities are rich in avifauna. Up to 267 bird species are registered in Sevan Basin. The existing avifauna can be grouped into podicipediformes, pelecaniformes, pelecaniformes, phoenicopteriformes, falconiformes, anseriformes, galliformes, gruiformes, charadriiformes, columbiformes, cuculiformes, strigiformes, caprimulgiformes, apodiformes, coraciiformes, piciformes, passeriformes. 39 species are included in the Red Book of Armenia. There is also an endemic species Armenian gull (Larus armenicus).
In the Masrik river valley, the following species of reptiles can be met: Bufo viridis Laurenti, Hyla arborea schelkownikowi, Rana ridibunda, Rana macrocnemis, Laudakia caucasia, Anguis Fragilis, Eremias arguta transcaucasica, Lacerta agilis brevicaudata, Lacerta strigata, Parvilacerta parva, Darevskia unsexualis, Darevskia valentini, Platiceps najadum, Hammerhois ravergieri, Coronella austriaca, Eirenis punctatolineatus, Natrix natrix, Natrix tesselata, Vipera (Pelias) eriwanensis.
On the whole territory of Gegharkunik there are 55 groups of invertebrates, mainly arthropoda, mollusks, crustacea, arachnida, etc. There are a few dozens of endemic species, of which 44 coleoptera, 2 lepidoptera, 2 оrthoptera, 2 mollusks. There is no Red Book in Armenia for the invertebrates. In the Red Book of the USSR, there were 12 species of arthropoda, of which 6 butterflies, 5 hymenoptera and 1 cricket. In the MCOP Red List, there are 4 invertebrate species, inhabiting Sevan Basin, on of which is included in the list of Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention).
Main environmental concerns
Main environmental concerns include issues of Lake Sevan (reduced water level, increased eutrophication, detrimental impact of human activity on the biodiversity of the lake), wastewater treatment as well as mining activities.
PDF: Experience and Lessons Learned Brief concerning
Araik Babayan, Susanna Hakobyan, Karen Jenderedjian*, Siranush Muradyan,
and Mikhail Voskanov
16 Dec 03
Western scientists and environmentalists still poorly know Lake Sevan characteristics and fate. In classical western limnology textbooks Lake Sevan is rarely mentioned, except for its endemic fishes. Very few papers have been published in western journals on the Sevan issue. The so-called Sevan Problem aroused since the XIX century. Primarily, the problem was how to use the water resources of the site. Lake Sevan has been recognized as a key potential water
resource. High location of the lake compared to the fertile but arid Ararat Valley, luck of energy resources in the country attract the engineers to find the methods to explore the water of the lake intensively. Taking into account the water balance of lake Sevan where evaporation (800 mm
year-1) largely exceeds direct precipitation (360 mm.year-1), an Armenian engineer named Suqias Manasserian, in his book entitled "The Evaporating Billions and the Stagnation of Russian Capital" (1910), proposed to use intensively the water resources for irrigation and hydropower generation. By dropping the original water level by 50 m his plan was to reduce evaporation almost 6 times by drying completely Major Sevan and leaving a shrunken Minor Sevan of about
240 km2 compared to 1416 km2 for the original lake. The project was further elaborated as a major Soviet project under the compulsion of the central authorities of the USSR. The project started to be implemented in 1933 when the bed of Hrazdan River was excavated and a tunnel was bored soon 40 m under the lake level. The tunnel was inaugurated in 1949 as a major achievement of socialism and the lake level started to drop at a rate exceeding 1 m year-1. The
water was used for irrigation and 6 hydropower stations began to produce electricity.
Very soon the problem how to use water resources has been inversed into how to use wise all natural resources and the water in particular. Yet in the 1950's became evident the ecological (and economical) consequences of extensive exploitation of the water of the lake were too undesirable to continue in the same way. Human activities have had such a negative effects as water level decrease, deterioration of a water quality, destruction of natural habitats and loss of
biodiversity. Another epoch-making project started to diverse water of Arpa River through a 49 km long tunnel under the watershed line. Since 1981 the tunnel brings up to 200 million m3 water per year into to Lake Sevan. Another 165 million m3 water per year from the Vorotan 2
River to the Arpa River and then to Lake Sevan will bring a second 22 km long tunnel. The construction of Vorotan-Arpa tunnel expected to be fully completed in 2004.
For preservation, sensible use and reproduction of natural resources of Lake Sevan, the National Park has been established in 1978. The area was designated as a Ramsar site on July 6, 1993.
The fauna of vertebrates consists of 6 species of fishes (2 in the Red Data Book of Armenia, 2 endemic), 4 species of amphibians (none of them are considered to be endangered), 18 species of reptiles (2 of them are in the Red Data Book of Armenia), 210 species of birds (36 are in the
Red Data Book of Armenia, 1 is endemic, 83 are included in the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals), 36 species of mammals (8 are in the Red Data Book of Armenia).
All native fish species, Ishkhan (Salmo ischchan), Sevan Barbel (Barbus goktschaikus), Sevan Koghak (Varicorhinus capoeta sevangi) are in decline. Of them famous endemic Ishkhan (Salmo ischchan) (prince in Armenian) now is at the edge of extinction.
Amphibians are abundant everywhere, where small ponds, pools and puddles are available. The herpetofauna is more abundant on the northeastern shore of the lake and only grass-snakes (Natrix natrix, and N. tesselata) are common everywhere.
Artificial water-level decrease influenced first of all on the quantity of breeding waterfowl. From approximately 60 breeders only about 25 are registering during the last years. Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra), Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and endemic Armenian Gull (Larus armenicus) are
abundant at present. Estimated quantity of Eurasian Coot is 6,000, Mallard - 5,000, Armenian Gull - 16,000 individuals during the year. The lake is important passage for migratory birds, especially in October-December (before ice cover). Such a rare birds as Great Egret (Casmerodius albus), Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), Mute Swan (Cygnus olor), Whooper Swan (C. cygnus), Demoiselle Crane (Grus vigro) are registered here regularly during the migrations. Lake Sevan is important resting and wintering site for migratory waterfowl. Half century ago the area had been well known as the greatest inland breeding area for waterfowl between Black Sea and Caspian Lake. Due to the water-level drop and draining of most of wetlands the role of the site as a breeding area at present is much lower.
The most typical mammals are European Hare (Lepus europaenus), Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), Wolf (Canis lupus), Weasel (Mates foina) and most of the rodents. Investigations on invertebrates included only aquatic fauna: 14 plankton and 136 benthic species of different systematic groups. Plankton and benthos associations showed a close dependence on the trophic status of the lake. Recently acclimatized Long-hand Crayfish (Astacus leptodactylus)
since the 1990's became subject of commercial fishery and export abroad, including European Community.
|Larus armenicus adult February 09 2011 Maagan Michael, Israel. Picture: Amir Ben Dov.