Folder Species Diversity

The total number of species which have been identified in Bahrain is 1361 species ranging from microbes to large mammals (Table 1). It is highly probable that this number is an underestimate since many taxa have not been adequately identified and inventoried.

About 357 species of wild vascular plants have been recorded in the desert and cultivated areas in Bahrain. Desert plants are predominately perennial or annual herbs and shrubs exceptionally adapted to the harsh desert environment. Interestingly, in association with the rapid urbanization pace in the country, the range of exotic crops has diversified. According to a temporary list updated in 1990, 21 species of butterflies have been reported. At least 20 species of reptiles and one species of amphibians are known to occur on the islands, and lizards are particularly abundant.

Bahrain offers important wintering grounds for many migratory birds, especially in spring and autumn months. Over 330 species of birds have been inventoried in Bahrain; of which 26 species breed on the islands. The breeding colony of the socotra cormorant Phalacrocorax nigrogularis on Hawar Islands is the largest in the world. Similarly, the breeding colony of the western reef heron Egretta gularis on Hawar Islands is the largest in the Middle East.

Only 18 species of terrestrial mammals in addition to 3 species of dolphins are found in Bahrain. Gazelles, desert hares and hedgehogs can still be found in the wilderness. Of particular note, the dugong herd around Hawar Islands is the second largest after Australia.

Table 1. The number of species, belonging to major morphological groups, identified so far in Bahrain.
Major GroupNumber of Species
Algae 34
Vascular Plants 357
Corals 24
Annelids 27
Sea Shells (Gastropods and Bivalves) 184
Crustaceans 64
Echinoderms 13
Insects 39
Arachnids 6
Fishes 239
Amphibians 1
Reptiles 20
Birds 331
Mammals 22
Total Number of Species 1361 

Because of the wide gaps in the available information, it is difficult at present to undertake thorough assessment of the status of most species inhabiting Bahrain. For the provisional Species list of Bahrain please see the Biodiversity Baseline Assessment Report on the Bahrain NBSAP 2015 page.