Vol. 60, 2021
(update: 2021.03.15; 05.31)
Crustacean Fauna of the Aral
Sea and its Relation to Ichthyofauna During the Modern Regression
Crisis and Efforts at Restoration
Plotnikov1, Nikolai V. Aladin1, Jens Mossin2,
and Jens T. H°eg3,*
Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Universitetskaya nab. 1, St.
Petersburg 199034, Russia. E-mail: Igor.Plotnikov@zin.ru (Plotnikov);
E-mail: email@example.com (HuamanÝ-Valderrama);
firstname.lastname@example.org (Lˇpez-Tejeda); email@example.com (Lazo-Rivera)
2Gentoftegade 76, DK-2820 Gentofte, Denmark. E-mail:
of Marine Biology, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen,
Universitetsparken 4DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark. *Correspondence:
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (H°eg). Phone: +45 28 75 12 47
Received 31 October 2020 / Accepted 17
Communicated by Benny K.K. Chan
The regression and salinization of
the Aral Sea, largely caused by water diversion for irrigation, is
among the most severe ecological disasters of the 20th century, and has
had severe health and economic consequences for the local population.
Introductions of alien species to enhance commercial fisheries before
the regression had already impacted the ecology of this system.
Crustaceans made up about one-quarter of the original metazoan species
and constituted the principal food for native and introduced fish. From
1960 on, crustaceans were recorded at numerous fixed sampling stations,
including thanatocoenoses (dead animals from sediment cores). We use
this previously unpublished information to document changes in species
abundance and discuss their causes in the context of species
interactions and changes to physical and chemical parameters.
Competition from alien crustaceans led to declines in or even
extinction of some native species, but eventually severe salinization
became the main detriment, and resulted in the complete collapse of
commercial fisheries. This seriously hurt a critical trade, which
provided the principal protein source for the local population. We
document how comparatively modest conservation efforts enabled the
northern Small Aral Sea to partially recover and commercial fishing to
Key words: Conservation, Fisheries, Long term
monitoring, Saline lake, Introduced species.
Plotnikov IS, Aladin NV, Mossin J, H°eg JT. 2021. Crustacean fauna of
the Aral Sea and its relation to ichthyofauna during the modern
regression crisis and efforts at restoration. Zool Stud 60:25. doi:10.6620/ZS.2021.60-25.