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The complex history of the Caspian Sea formation has lead to a variety of different habitats. Like Australia, the Caspian Sea became isolated thousands of years ago. This isolation led to the speciation of many rare animals in particular the sturgeon. The sturgeon species existed 200 million years ago at the same time as dinosaurs and can therefore be called living fossils. At that time sturgeon inhabited many ancient seas. Later on in the process of evolution, possibly due to competition with bony fish species, the sturgeons started to become extinct but managed to survive in the Caspian Sea. This gigantic lake contains more than 90% of the world resources of sturgeon. Furthermore, the Caspian Sea is also home to many other rare species of crustaceans and mollusks.

Due to its unique and diverse habitats, the Caspian Sea has become home to many rare species of flora and fauna. In connection with an increase of the Caspian Sea level during the period of 1994 – 1996, habitats for rare species of aquatic vegetation have drastically decreased. This can be attributed to a general lack of seeding material in newly formed coastal lagoons and water bodies.

Many rare and endemic plant species of Russia are associated with the intra-zonal communities of the Volga delta and riparian forests of the Samur River delta as well as to the Sarykum barkhan which is a unique refuge for flora adapted to the loose sands of the ancient Central Asian Deserts. The principal limiting factors to successful establishment of plant species are hydrological imbalances within the surrounding deltas, water pollution, and various land reclamation activities. The water level change within the Caspian Sea is an indirect reason for which plants may not get established. This affects aquatic plants of the Volga delta, such as: Aldrovanda veiculosa and Nelumbo caspica. About 11 plant species are found in the Samur River delta, of which some form a unique liana forest that dates back to the Tertiary period.


Species and habitats

Animals of the Caspian Sea

Rare species in danger of extinction

Biodiversity Database

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