Assessment of Wetland Water Quality and Avian Diversity of a Human-Modified Floodplain Wetland on River Yamuna
Okhla Bird Sanctuary (OBS) is an Important Bird Area, which comes under the protected area network of Uttar Pradesh with one-third area lying in the state of Delhi (India). OBS has widest flood plains along the Delhi stretch of river Yamuna and is important in conserving the ecological wealth of floodplains of the river. Rapid urbanization and industrialization and discharge of untreated wastewater into the river have resulted in deteriorated water quality. The present study focused on assessment of water quality, aquatic flora and avifaunal diversity in the OBS. Water quality was analyzed following methods of APHA. For vegetation analysis, sub-merged and free-floating plants were scooped up from five randomly selected sites. Total bird counts were conducted for water birds and species richness, evenness and Shannon-Weaver species diversity indices were calculated. Results indicate that the organic load is very high in the wetland as evident from low levels of dissolved oxygen (2.26 ± 1.62 mg/l) and high Biological and Chemical Oxygen Demands (15.20 ± 3.75 mg/l, 44.60 ± 12.07 mg/l). Nine species of free-floating and submerged plants were recorded; Hydrilla verticillata, Vallisneria spiralis, Azolla pinnata and Ceratophyllum demersum dominated both deep and shallow water areas. 52 species of waterbirds including four near-threatened species viz., Anhinga melanogaster, Mycteria leucocephala, Threskiornis melanocephalus and Aythya nyroca were recorded. OBS provides opportunities for conservation in a metropolitan area, thus, appropriate measures should be taken to maintain its ecological integrity.
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