The authors document the diatom species composition and ecology in the two major water impoundments of Southern Iraq, the Mesopotamian Marshes and Shatt Al-Arab River. Based on light and scanning electron microscopy investigations, 293 taxa are documented, including the description of three new species. The taxa treated herein were collected from a variety of habitats over a period of 15 years. Diatom assemblages consist of a mixture of freshwater, brackish water and marine taxa.
Many diatom taxa that have disappeared in recent years are also documented in Diatoms in the wetlands of Southern Iraq. One reason for their disappearance is the high salinization of the Mesopotamian Marshes and Shatt Al-Arab River areas resulting from extremely low freshwater discharge from Euphrates and Tigris Rivers which allowed the seawater front to reach these regions. Species belonging to previously recorded genera such as Eunotia and Diatoma are no longer present in this area. Therefore, this work also is a documentary record of the diatom flora of the wetlands of Southern Iraq during the past 15 years and not only provides an insight into the present state of research but preserves records and findings from taxa no longer present in Southern Iraq, due to human driven ecological impacts.
Ecological importance of the Mesopotamian Marshes 6
Ecological conditions 6
Shatt Al-Arab River 7
Mesopotamian Marshes 7
Diatom research in Southern Iraq 7
Material and methods 8
Examination and identification 9
Diatom assemblages in Southern Iraq 10
Systematic account 11
Plates 1-62 (LM and SEM plates) 117
Taxonomic index 243