The phytoplankton of some saline lakes in Central Asia

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Abstract

The Aral Sea, Lake Balkhash, and Lake Kamyslybas are closed lakes in Central Asia. They range from oligosaline to metasaline. The salinity of the Aral Sea has increased by more than 30 g L−1 since widespread irrigation began in its catchment area. Few studies of the phytoplankton have been conducted on these lakes since extensive irrigation started. The investigation reported here compares the flora of phytoplankton in these saline lakes. In the Small Aral Sea, phytoplankton density gradually decreased with increasing electrical conductivity (EC) (∼ salinity), but there was no such relation in Lake Balkhash and Lake Kamyslybas. In the Aral Sea, Dinophyceae and Bacillariophyceae were frequently observed in most areas of high EC value, and Cyanophyceae were most conspicuous in the area of medium and lower EC values. In Lake Balkhash, Cyanophyceae were most conspicuous, but Chlorophyceae were also noticeable. Most Cyanophyceae in Aral Sea formed filaments with heterocysts. The distinct characteristic of the phytoplankton of the Lake Balkhash was that all dominant species form colonies covered with a gelatinous film. Siliceousplankton diversity gradually decreased with increasing EC values in the Aral Sea and Lake Balkhash.