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Title of Thesis

Zulfiqar Ali
Institute/University/Department Details
Department of Zoology University of the Punjab, Quaid-e-Azam Campus, Lahore
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Keywords (Extracted from title, table of contents and abstract of thesis)
MIGRATORY BIRDS, UCHALLI WETLANDS, Anatidae, Accipitridae, Ardidae, Phasianidae, Charadriidae, Tringinae, Columbidae, Alaudidae, Hirundinidae, Motacillidae, Turdidae, Sylviidae, Black Coot Fulica atra, Common Pochards Aythya ferina, Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata, Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber, Gadwall Anas strepera, Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula, Northern Pintail Anas acuta, Red-awttled Lapwing Hoplopterus indicus, Black-winged Stilt Himanlopus himantopus

Wetlands are the earth's most important freshwater resource and are also the most threatened. They perform manifold functions in the maintenance of the ecological balance of a region. Being dynamic ecosystems, they are continually undergoing natural changes due to infilling with sediments and nutrients, subsidence and droughts etc. They sustain all life and perform some useful functions in the maintenance of overall balance of nature. Unsustainable uses of underground water and in the catchment areas have contributed to the decline of quality and quantity of wetlands. Hence, it is imperative to focus on the preservation of these endangered habitats to achieve ecological sustainability. This study was undertaken to identify and analyze the qualitative and quantitative impact of human use and drought on the ecology of wetlands and migratory birds. Various physico-chemical and biological parameters were analyzed and a socio-economic survey was done in Uchalli Wetlands Complex lakes to find out the human level of dependency on these lakes. Integration of water quality and quantity with socio-economic information has aided in appropriate prediction and conservation of these three lakes.

Uchalli Wetland Complex is an internationally well known site (72 14°E, 32 29°N) where wetland conservation activities have been undertaken in recent years. The Complex is a combination of three independent wetlands: Uchalli, Khabbaki and Jahlar. This site is located in the Salt Range of north central Punjab, Pakistan. For assessment of the diversity and population density of birds, a range of widely used research methods was applied in the field to accumulate the maximum information.

From 1992 to 2004, extensive surveys were conducted of avian distribution and abundance in the study area. During these 13 years. maximum numbers of birds recorded were 25.674 in 1994 and minimum 952 in 2003 with an annual average of 13.813 birds. A total of 173 bird species representing 46 families and sub-families were recorded from 10 Km2 (964 Km2) buffer zone of the Uchalli Wetlands Complex, which constitute nearly 24% of the birds in the territorial range of Pakistan (729), almost 13% of Indian Sub-Continent (1,295), more than 5% of Asia (3,388) and about 2% of the world (9,225). Among families, the Anatidae and Accipitridae show the highest abundance of bird species in this region. Other best represented families and sub-families (more than five species) were Ardidae, Phasianidae, Charadriidae, Tringinae, Columbidae, Alaudidae, Hirundinidae, Motacillidae, Turdidae and Sylviidae. As for as the local status of birds concerns, 32 species were comes under rare status, followed by fairly common (30 species), uncommon (29 species), common (22 species), very common (22 species), very rare (21 species), abundant (15 species) and only two species were very abundant. Regarding resident and migratory nature of bird's species at Uchalli Wetlands Complex it was estimated that 40 per cent species were breeding resident, 39 per cent species were migratory and 21 per cent were exclusively wintering in nature at the site.

Yearwise calculated figures for Uchalli Wetlands Complex have shown that the duration from 1994 to 2000 have maximum Shannon-Wiener Diversity Index values, because in these years index value was in positive figures and maximum value was 1.1313 in 1998, indicating rich diversity of avi-fauna. The most dominant species were Black Coot Fulica atra and Common Pochards Aythya ferina with a relative abundance value of 32.60 and 21.13 respectively, followed by other most dominant species Mallard Anas platyrhynchos. Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata. Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber, Gadwall Anas strepera. Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula, Northern Pintail Anas acuta,. Red-awttled Lapwing Hoplopterus indicus. and Black-winged Stilt Himanlopus himantopus. These ten species constitute 85% abundance of the species recorded at Uchalli Wetlands Complex. Minimum density of birds was 283 birds per square kilol11ctre in 2003. and maximum value of the density of waterfowl was 2.295 birds per square kilomctre in 1994. Most of these birds inhabited Uchalli Lake due to having much bigger size than. Khabbaki and Jahlar lakes. Yearwise density figures show a gradual decline after 1994 because of morphometry of lakes has been reduced.

The avifauna diet analysis revealed that majority of the birds in the study area were herbivorous (41 %) followed by omnivorous (37%) and insectivorous (15%); carnivores lying at the top of the trophic pyramid were in good number i.e. 7% of the total recorded species. Overall, due to various ecological degradations, bird fauna in this area is under tremendous stress

Although hunting was not allowed on three lakes as per protected status of the area, however, instances of hunting were observed on all of them both by local villagers and by hunters from out side. At these lakes the collective hunting index for the visits from 1992 to 2004 was 0.085.

The livestock observed at the lakes comprised goats, sheep, buffaloes, donkeys and horses. A yearly average has increased from 4,396 cattle per year observed a decade ago and 6,977 cattle per year observed during study period (2001-2004). This increase of 63 per cent depicts more grazing land is available to livestock due to morphometry of lakes have been reduced.

A significant increase in number of wells was recoded during the recent years as the local peoples have informed that about 200 wells were present before 1980, and then in mid 80's off-season vegetables (Cabbage, Cauliflower etc.) were introduced as cash crops to boost the local economy of poor formers. Now there were 1,819 total wells were discovered among these 312 wells were in exact catchments of the lakes. After severe drought since 1997 this increasing trend to dig more wells was gradually blocked because existing wells were going to dry quickly as the rainfall in the area was short and underground water harvesting was increased. After introduction and successful propagation of off-season vegetables in 1980's use of fertilizers and medicines (insecticides and pesticides) have also increased many folds. Agricultural income was estimated to be 20,717 rupees (345US$) per acre per annum from well's irrigated land in Uchalli Wetlands Complex.

A number of lectures were given in local schools and visitors groups for conservation education awareness, to highlight and create awareness about importance of the migratory birds and wetlands. Climatic factors were measured including local temperature, and rainfall. Maximum air temperature measuring 46.9°C was recorded in May 1998 and for water it was recorded as 28.1°C in June 1999. Usually, the hottest months were May, June and July with maximum average temperature range between 40.5°C and 44.8°C. Minimum air and water temperature recorded were in the month of January (-0.5°C) in 1994 for air and 3.2°C in January 1998 for water. Coldest months were December, January and February with a range of minimum temperatures 2.loC to 4.3°C for air and 5.3°C to 8.5°C for water.

Rainfall averages for the months recorded from 1992 to 2004 have showed that July and August were wettest months with average rainfall of 18.74 cm and 17.63 cm respectively and November, December were driest months with averages of 1.07 cm and 0.45 cm respectively. Maximum and minimum rainfall ranges for the years are 28.45 cm (2001) to 99.30 cm (1992).

Water spread areas of three lakes have considerably reduced during the last ten years because of drought conditions prevailing in the Salt Range. Rainfall data depicts that almost 50% decline in rainfall has reduced the morphometry of lakes up to 73% (maximum 1241 ha in 1993 to only 336 ha in 2004). Khabbaki lake has totally dried up since 2002. Sedimentation and encroachments for agricultural activities have also had a profound impact on wetlands.

Statistical analysis was performed using simple Microsoft Excel sheets and SPSS programme. Correlation among rainfall and morphometry of lakes was significant (0.722) at the 0.01 levels. Similarly decline in rainfall and birds population significantly correlates (0.751) at 0.01 levels. As the morphometry of lakes reduced, population of migratory birds was also reduced. This data significantly correlates (0.979) at 0.01 levels. An analysis of the water samples taken from lakes was done as per the standard methods of American Public Health Association. The color of the lake's water was mostly greenish, due to algal blooms and effluents from domestic and agricultural runoff. The results revealed as a result of agricultural run-off and anthropogenic activities in the surrounding areas waters of the three wetlands were highly alkaline and heavily concentrated by nutrients, high total dissolved solids, alkalinity and hardness, resulting in weed infestation, algal blooms, oxygen deficiency, odour, which has attained eutrophic condition.

Biological studies included counting of planktons for the water samples collected from the lakes. The lakes support a total of 103 plankton species; diversity includes 27 species of Algae, 24 species of Protozoan, 17 species of Rhizopods, II species ofTurbellaria and 9 species of Rotifers. Other variety recorded was, Fungi. 5 species, Copepods, 4 species, Nematodes 3 species and Cladocera 1\\-0 species. One Hirudinea species was also recorded from Khabbaki lake \\ hen sufficient water was present in the Lake. Seasonal changes in weather due to factors such as temperature and rainfall had marked effect on plankton flora and fauna resulting in seasonal variations in their numbers and composition.

The last ten years have witnessed dramatic changes in the structure and processes of the Uchalli Wetlands Complex, which have affected its ability to function as a habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, and migratory birds.

The main threats identified were agricultural developments, overgrazing, agricultural intensification, deforestation in catchments area, illegal hunting, human disturbance, use of agricultural chemicals / pesticides, climate change and excess and unsustainable use of underground water resources.

Several ecological factors, such as habitat loss related to siltation, pollution, expanding agricultural activities and drastic hydrological fluctuations, have induced considerable changes in the dynamics and distribution pattern of sustained biota. The shrinkage of the wetland areas is a cause for environmental concern. This highlights the rapidly deteriorating environmental status of the Uchalli Wetlands Complex, and stresses the need for its urgent ecological restoration. The information is presented with the fervent hope that it will assist in the establishment of more comprehensive wetlands management programmes and policies.

Hence, there is an immediate need to restore, conserve and preserve these existing wetlands to maintain and improve the ecological balance. Best management options are suggested in managing and restoring wetlands. Restored wetlands could be suitable habitat for waterfowl again as long as care is taken to prevent point and non-point sources of pollution that drain in to these wetlands.

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S. No. Chapter Title of the Chapters Page Size (KB)
1 0 Contents
231.24 KB
2 1 Introduction 1
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  1.1 Wetlands 1
  1.2 Central Asian Flyway and Migratory Birds 5
  1.3 Birds Distribution and Migration in Pakistan 7
  1.4 Uchalli Wetlands complex 15
  1.5 Aims and Objectives of the present study 22
3 2 Review and literature 23
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4 3 Materials and Methods 30
169.6 KB
  3.1 Study Area 30
  3.2 Weather Data 31
  3.3 Morphometry of the Lakes 32
  3.4 Migratory Birds Census and Monitoring 32
  3.5 Point Counts 32
  3.6 Census Index (Density) and Relative Abundance 33
  3.7 dominant and Sub-Dominant Index 33
  3.8 Shannon-Wiener Diversity Index 33
  3.9 Ecological pyramind for Birds(Diet Analysis) 34
  3.10 Water Analysis 33
  3.11 Vegetation around Lakes 37
  3.12 Well€™s Data Livestock Grazing, hunting Index and Public Awareness 37
  3.13 Statistical Analysis 38
5 4 Results 39
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  4.1 Avian Diversity of the Uchalli Wetlands Complex 39
  4.2 Monthly Fluctuation of Birds at Uchalli Wetlands Complex 41
  4.3 Status of Bird Species at Uchalli Wetlands complex 44
  4.4 Avian Diversity analysis 47
  4.7 Ecology of Migratory Birds at Uchalli Wetland Complex 55
  4.8 Conservation of Water Bird Species 100
  4.9 Climatic Factor of Uchalli Wetlands Complex 101
  4.10 Morphometric change at Uchalli wetlands complex 103
  4.11 Physico-Chemical and Biological Analysis of Water 107
  4.12 Seasonal Variations in water characteristics of Uchalli Lake 115
  4.13 Seasonal Variations in water characteristics of Khabbaki Lake 116
  4.14 Seasonal Variations in water characteristics of Jahlar Lake 117
  4.15 Plank tonic analysis 118
  4.16 Relative occurrence of Plank tonic species at three Lakes 118
  4.17 Total Plank tonic Diversity 120
  4.18 Plank tonic Diversity in Time 122
  4.19 Vegetation around Lakes 125
  4.20 Well€™s Data of Uchalli Wetlands complex 126
  4.21 Crops Cultivated in the catchments Area of the Lakes 131
  4.22 Livestock Grazing pressure on periphery of the Lakes 131
  4.23 Hunting of Migratory Birds at the Lakes 135
  4.24 Conservation Education Awareness 135
  4.25 Identified Threats to Migratory Birds and Lakes 136
  4.27 Statistical Analysis of the Results 137
6 5 Discussion 145
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  5.1 Threats affecting sustainable management of wetlands 169
  5.2 Root Causes 181
  5.3 Conservation and Management 183
  5.4 Recommendations 189
  5.5 Conclusion 195
7 6 References 196
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8 7 Annexes 212
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