Citizen science takes wing to understand local avian patterns
A group of citizen scientists flocked together behind binoculars to help in urban wetland management by compilingon the waterbirds in a in Tamil Nadu.
Although most urban wetlands in India are considered to be extremely polluted, they still attract a large number of winged visitors for food, rest, and shelter. A group of citizen scientists took toin Perur Lake, a wetland complex in metropolitan Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, to assess the composition and status of its from May 2014 to April 2016.
The systematic monthly count indicated that Perur Lake sustained/ birds throughout the year and is home to 112 species of birds, including 49 species of waterbirds. The lake is also a major stopover and wintering ground for 17 species of birds. It appears that avian diversity and numbers are at their highest from February to April during the northward migration of birds in spring.
Waterbirds generally prefer wetlands that maximise the abundance and accessibility of their food and avoid areas with extensive human disturbance. Perur Lake contains a rich diversity of molluscs and fish that provide food for waterbirds and is relatively unpolluted. The lake, however, is subject to various habitat encroachments such as road construction and its use by motor vehicles, illegal and unauthorised dumping of waste material, conversion to an artificial reservoir for agricultural use, and the establishment of hutments. These human activities impair the functionality of the wetland, as seen from the reduced number and diversity of birds during the road construction period in the lake.
The study also suggested that the presence or absence of water and its levels in the lake is a key determining factor of the avian species composition. Meeting the needs of all birds by maintaining adequate water levels in the wetland during the critical months of February–May can also be beneficial for local communities as it allows more time and opportunity for groundwater recharge.
► Adequate water levels must be maintained in wetlands during the crucial months of February–May for the benefit of all birds, especially migrating waterbirds.
► Similar studies need to be conducted in some of the adjoining wetlands of the area in amanner for better understanding and substantiating the possible avian patterns.
Parameswaran, G. & R. Sivashankar (2018). The composition and status of waterbirds of Perur Lake in Tamil Nadu, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 10(11): 12464–12488; https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.3822.214.171.12464-12488
Read the media report here.