Assessment of biodiversity differences between natural and artificial Wetlands in Cyprus

Salih Gucel, Costas Kadis, Ozge Ozden, Iris Charalambidou, Conor Linstead, Wayne Fuller, Constantinos Kounnamas, Munir Ozturk

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Despite being a dry country, historically, Cyprus had many wetlands, both freshwater and saline. However, pollution, mosquito management, increased use of water and drainage of wetland areas for agriculture and building, led to the loss of many of the original wetlands. On the other hand, persistent water shortages have led to the construction of more than 100 dams on the island. In this study, the biodiversity of two natural wetlands, Ronnas River and Oroklini Lake, was compared to that of two man-made wetlands, Geçitköy (Panagra) Reservoir and Achna Dam. Baseline ecological surveys of plants, invertebrates and birds were carried out at bi-monthly intervals from February to June 2006. In total, 495 plant species, out of which 22 were endemic, were recorded with Gecitkoy (Panagra) Dam showing the highest plant diversity and Oroklini Lake the lowest. A total of 13 invertebrate orders were recorded, however, no statistical difference was found between the number of orders in artificial and natural wetlands. Furthermore, 18 butterfly species were recorded, with the highest diversity found at Ronnas River on Centaurea sp., Onopordum cyprium, Pistachia sp. and Cistus creticus. Less diversity found at Oroklini Lake and Achna Dam was due to an absence of maquis vegetation in these areas. Moreover, the highest butterfly diversity in all wetlands was observed in February and April, following winter rainfall in February, and increasing temperatures in April. Lower insect numbers and diversity in May were due to windy conditions. A total of 83 bird species were identified, with 32 recorded at Ronnas River, 29 at Oroklini Lake, 25 at Geçitköy (Panagra) Reservoir and 35 at Achna Dam. Most individuals were counted at Achna Dam (1493) and the least at Ronnas River (217). At Oroklini, Geçitköy and Achna, the most abundant species was the Common Coot while most species recorded at Ronnas were terrestrial, with the Common Wood-pigeon being the most abundant species. However the outcome so far is that there is little difference between these two wetlands types in terms of biodiversity richness. This study has demonstrated that artificial wetlands do provide important habitats for flora and fauna and these sites should be managed with biodiversity as well as water resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-224
Number of pages12
JournalPakistan Journal of Botany
Issue numberSPL. ISS. 2
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


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