Mongolia is a vast Central Asian country with the world's most extreme continental climate and notable aridity. Nevertheless, it has a great abundance and variety of lakes, some of which are large enough to be classified among the largest in Eurasia. It also has a considerable network of fast-flowing rivers that ramble undisturbed through spacious alluvial plains. Human intervention is barely detectable, both due to the scant population and its traditional occupations, consisting basically of livestock grazing; this has preserved Mongolian lakes and rivers in a pristine condition up to our times.
Since 2005 a team belonging to the Department of Ecology of Barcelona University (Spain) is prospecting Mongolia attracted by the existence of lakes with great similarities to those in the most arid Iberian territories, lakes which have either disappeared entirely in Iberia or are seriously damaged today. The Water Research Center of the National University of Mongolia, is actively involved in the project. This center is an inter schools unit allowing scientists from different disciplines at national and international institutions work together helping government and communities to manage, protect and restore water ecosystems through holistic research approach.
The objectives of the Mongolian Lakes Project are:
Presently (year 2013) direct limnological information of a group of 728 lakes, including the most representative is available.
Ten expeditions have been conducted covering all the Mongol country and its different natural zones:
Exploration consisted of collecting basic parameters such as the lake substrate type, estimates of water permanence, water mineralization (through electrical conductivity, salinity and pH), the appearance of the water (turbidity, trophic characteristics), and analysis of the macrophyte and invertebrate communities. Logistical support was provided by Mongolian Ways (www.mongolian-ways.com), a Mongolian company whose contributions to the project were incalculable given the great difficulties implied in the locations of the lakes and travel within the country.
After the first general investigation of the Mongolian lakes over these eight years, it is anticipated that the study will continue in coming years for the purpose of expanding information about specific aspects in more restricted groups of lakes. All suggestions are welcome.
The Limnological Catalogue of Mongolian Lakes is part of the Project: “Biodiversity of Crustacea Entomostraca in the Palaearctic. Aplication for the assessment of the ecological status of Iberian Lakes” within the Program for the Conservation of Biodiversity promoted by ENDESA. The team would like to express its appreciation for their help to all those who have contributed in any way to the success of the project, especially to Dr. Dorjgotov, Director of the Geographic Institute of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, for his support in the first campaign; to Dr. Enkhtaivan Sanaa, researcher of the Khuvsgul GEF/WB Project; and to Dr. Francesc Sabater, professor in the Ecology Department at the University of Barcelona. The limnological catalog is displayed with the help of Google Maps in a user-friendly application created by the Spanish company Geodata Sistemas S.L (www.geodata.es).
Limnological catalog of Mongolian lakes