Pakistan J. Zool., vol. 46(2), pp. 503-515, 2014.
Avifauna Studies in Co-Relation with Alteration in Climatic Patterns
and Hydrology of Uchalli Lake, Punjab, Pakistan
Muhammad Arshad,1* Naunain Mehmood,1 Hira Muqadas,1 Jamshed Chaudhry,2 Irfan Mustafa,1
Mobushir Riaz Khan,3,4 Inayat Ullah Malik5 and Haroon Ahmed6
1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Sargodha, Sargodha, Pakistan
2WWF, Lahore, Pakistan
3Institute of Space Technology, Near Rawat Toll Plaza, Islamabad Express Way, Islamabad, Pakistan
4Department of Geo-informatics, Faculty of Agricultural Engineering, PMAS-Arid Agriculture University,
5Department of Zoology, Wildlife & Fisheries, GC University, Faislabad, Pakıstan
6Department of Biosciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT), Park Road, Chak Shazad,
Abstract.-Mid-winter population count of bird species and hydrological analysis of surface water were carried
out for Uchalli lake (ramsar site) in year 2010 and 2011. Eleven species visited the lake in 2010 and their total number
was 1,139. Moreover, the number of species observed in 2011 was 34 with population of 18,606 birds in total. The
species observed both in 2010 and 2011 were Greater Flamingo, Black-winged Stilt, Gadwall, Mallard, Northern
Pintail, Common Coot, Kentish Plover, Indian Courser, Great Bittern and Little Bittern which constituted about 29%
of the total number of species present at the lake. The relative abundance was calculated for each species. Common
Coot was the most abundant species in both years. The total area of lake was estimated to be 850 ha in 2010 and 943
ha in 2011. The Shannon-Weiner diversity index was also calculated. In year 2010, the diversity index was 1.47 while
for year 2011 it was 1.88. In surface water analysis, Cu+2, Cd+2, Co+2, Fe+2, Mn+2, Pb+2, Zn+2, Mg+2, total hardness, Cl-
and SO-4 were found to be above the permissible limits. Parameters like EC, pH, temperature, transparency were also
calculated. All parameters had varied values in different months of the year. However, less variation was seen in
concentration of sulphates, nitrates, total phosphorous and chlorides.
Key words: Uchalli lake, mid-winter population count, hydrological analysis, Avifauna, Ramsar site.
Wetlands are an important geographical
feature upon which the existence of natural
resources like ground water, fisheries and wildlife
depend. Wetlands also play key roles like control of
flood and storm by absorption and storage of water,
provision of breeding, nesting and feeding grounds
and shelter for many forms of wildlife, reservoir
recharging ground water supplies, erosion control
by serving as a sedimentation area and source of
nutrients (Hairston and Fussmann, 2002; Ali, 2005;
Galbraith et al., 2005).
Climate change affects almost every aspect of
the environment, including wetlands and waterfowl.
Altering precipitation levels, sea level rise,
warming, variation in length and timing of seasons
are the most predicted changes in climatic patterns.
* Corresponding author: email@example.com
0030-9923/2014/0002-0503 $ 8.00/0
Copyright 2014 Zoological Society of Pakistan
Practically, there is no remedy for impacts of
climatic change, but taking specific measures can
reduce the level of this impact. For instance,
increased protection of wetlands and reduction in
water pollution may make plants and animals more
tolerant to small temperature changes and also help
in achieving wetland protection and restoration
goals. Loss of wetlands encourages global warming
as wetlands play a vital role in carbon cycle.
Changes in flight patterns of geese and ducks have
been observed in some parts of North America due
to unusual weather events. The rapid climatic
change is enhanced by continued anthropogenic
induction of carbon dioxide in atmosphere during
the past hundred years (Browne and Dell, 2007).
The largest component (14%) of global terrestrial
biosphere carbon pool is contained in wetlands,
including peatlands, as these have a substantial
potential for long-term carbon storage (Wylynko,
1999). Minor changes in clime significantly affect
the hydrology of wetlands. Not only the
M. ARSHAD ET AL.
precipitation level, but the onset of precipitation
events like increase in amount of precipitation per
event and drier periods in between affects the
wetlands to a considerable level (Browne and Dell,
The annual life cycles of migratory avian
species vary with the changes in climate which
affect migration timing, breeding period, egg-laying
and demography (Alerstam and Hedenström, 1998;
Crick and Sparks, 1999; Przybylo et al., 2000;
Jonzen et al., 2002; Tryjanowski et al., 2002;
Hüppop and Hüppop, 2003; Jenni and Kery, 2003;
Sparks and Mason, 2004; Newton, 2008). Various
environmental factors (the presence and number of
parasites, predators, eutrophication, and human
activity) that affect the habitat of a bird species are
also affected by changing climate (Mustin et al.,
2007). Fresh water habitats and the species
associated with them are more threatened in
comparison to terrestrial habitats (McAllister et al.,
1997; Ricciardi and Rasmussen, 1999).
Migratory birds serve as bio-indicators for the
productivity and ecological conditions of the
wetlands. Migratory patterns, distribution status and
population dynamics of these birds give a vivid
picture about the condition of a wetland (Kushlan,
The present study was undertaken to assess
the concentration levels of various heavy metals and
other physico-chemical parameters in surface water
of Uchalli lake. Avifauna census was carried out to
take into account the number of species and their
population at the wetland. The study was carried out
most importantly to determine the condition of the
lake and to check the impact of anthropogenic
activities and the climate change on aquatic biota
and the migratory species visiting this water body.
This would help in outlining the major factors
responsible for species decline at this internationally
important wetland and updating the knowledge for
the species status and hydrology of this Ramsar site.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The study was carried out at Uchalli lake
(32°33'N, 72°04'E), situated some 13 kilometers
north-east of Nowshera village and is at a distance
of 42 kilometers from District Khushab, Punjab
province (Fig. 1). The total area of lake is 943 ha. It
is a brackish to saline lake; the depth varies from 4-
6 m. The basic source of water in lake is rain water
thus the area of lake fluctuates in accordance with
rainfall. Several small springs arising from the
surrounding hills also feed the lake. Water is hyper
saline with pH of about 10. Salinity and water level
vary in accordance with the local rains. Large scale
agriculture takes place around the lake. The
catchment area is used for agricultural practices and
these lands are cultivated with the tube well water.
The lake water serves many purposes for the local
people like washing of clothes, utensils, bathing of
livestock. Grazing lands adjoining the lake are used
by buffaloes, horses and donkeys. The lake was
declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1985 and was
also declared (as a part of Uchalli Wetlands
Complex) Ramsar site on 22-3-1996 (Ali, 2005;
Early morning and late evening visits were
made to the lake and its catchment area for avi-
fauna census. Point count method was applied to
estimate the density of birds (Bibby and Burgess,
1992; Sutherland, 1996). Birds were identified using
binoculars (12x50) and spotting scope (15x60)
following Ali and Ripley (1987), Woodcock (1980),
Roberts (1991, 1992) and Grimmett et al. (2008).
To ease up the identification of birds care was taken
that the sun was always at the back. Three random
observation points were chosen. The relative
abundance of each species was calculated besides
determining the most abundant species during the
Total number of individuals
of one species
Relative abundance: x 100
Total number of individuals
of all species
Criterion employed by Bull (1964) and
McCaskle (1970) was used to calculate the
abundance of each species. Dominant and sub-
dominant index was applied to species having
higher relative abundance (Ali, 2005). Census index
was used to calculate the density of birds belonging
to each species. For this purpose the total area of
AVIFAUNA OF UCHALLI LAKE
Fig. 1. Study area (Uchalli lake)
lake was determined by GIS technique. The surface
area of water was calculated from a map plotted
against the coordinates recorded with a Garmin GPS
(Ali and Akhtar, 2005).
Total number of individuals
of one species
Total area of the lake in km
Feeding habits of different species were determined
on the basis of their food preferences as observed by
Roberts (1991, 1992). The diversity of each species
was calculated using Shannon-Weiner Diversity
Index (1963). The equation for the index is given
Diversity index = H’ = – Σ (Pi ln Pi)
Where H is the amount of diversity in a particular
habitat or ecosystem, Pi represents relative
abundance of species to the total population and ln
Pi is the natural logarithm of it.
A well known richness index was employed
known as Margalef Index (1958) which is calculated
as: R = S – 1/ ln (n)
Where R is the richness of species, S is the number
of species and n is the number of individuals
representing the sample.
Evenness index used in current study is the
one used by Pielou (1966). It is calculated as:
e = H / ln S
M. ARSHAD ET AL.
Where H is Shannon-Wiener diversity index and S
is the total number of species in the sample.
Diversity, richness and evenness were calculated
using SPDIVERSE software which is designed by
Ludwig and Reynolds (1988).
Water samples were taken from three
sampling points within the lake and the samples
were collected from the same location each time. On
spot readings were taken for pH, temperature and
electrical conductivity (EC). The samples were
collected regularly for a year i.e. August 2010- July
2011. The surface water samples were taken in 1
liter polythene bottles. The bottles were soaked in
nitric acid (5%) for 24 hours after washing. Bottles
were again rinsed with deionized water before
sampling (Laxen and Harrison, 1981). Titration and
turbidimetric procedures were followed to
determine chloride and sulphate concentration
(inacidified portion) respectively while nitrate and
phosphate concentrations were calculated using
spectrophotometric methods. 5 ml nitric acid was
immediately added to the samples to avoid
adsorption of heavy metals onto the walls of
sampling bottles (Ademoroti, 1996). Samples were
safely transferred to laboratory.
For heavy metal analysis, samples underwent
the process of digestion. 200ml of the sampled
water was taken in beaker and 5ml di-acid mixture
(HNO3: HCLO4 :: 9:4) was added to it. The beaker
was then placed on hot plate after which the
concentrate was filtered by Whatman No: 42 filter
paper. Double distilled water was added to filtrate to
make the volume of 50ml (Kar et al., 2008).
Digested samples were then placed in pre-washed
polythene bottle. Throughout the processing period
analytical grade (AG) reagents were used. Various
standards of heavy metals were prepared from
certified standard stock solution (ppm) by using
double distilled water. These standards were used to
obtain calibration curve on Atomic Absorption
Water sample were analyzed for heavy metals
(Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb, Zn) in Shimadzu
(AA-6300) Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer
(AAS). Obtained readings were multiplied with
dilution factor. Values were recorded in mg/L.
One way ANOVA (Steel and Torrie, 1980)
had been applied to statistically summarize the
In the present study the population count of
birds at Uchalli lake was carried out for two
consecutive years i.e. 2010 and 2011. Bird species
varied both in numbers and diversity. A total of
eleven species visited the Uchalli lake in 2010 with
their total numbers calculated upto 1,139 whereas,
an observable difference was seen in year 2011 as
the number of species rose to 34 and their total
numbers reaching upto 18,606. Species observed
both in 2010 and 2011 were Greater Flamingo,
Black-winged Stilt, Mallard, Gadwall, Northern
Pintail, Common Coot, Kentish Plover, Indian
Courser, Great Bittern and Little Bittern while Gray
Wagtail was not recorded in 2011. The relative
abundance was calculated for each species.
Common Coot was the most abundant species in
both years. Its relative abundance was 52.43 and
44.14 in 2010 and 2011 respectively, the highest
among other species. The sub-dominant species at
the lake in 2010 was Northern Pintail (28.13%)
while for 2011 it was Common Pochard (18.98%).
Common Pochard and Northern Shoveler were not
recorded at the lake in 2010 but they had fairly large
populations in 2011. Gadwall and Mallard had
generally lower populations in 2010 as compared to
2011 but they had higher relative abundance in
2010. The least abundant birds were Kentish Plover,
Common Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Common
Redshank, Common Greenshank, Intermediate
Egret, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Indian River
Tern, Common Tern and Marsh Harrier among
other species whose abundance values were even
less than one (Tables I, II).
The area covered by lake was calculated by
using GIS techniques. The total area of lake was
calculated to be 850 ha and 943 ha in 2010 and
2011, respectively. This was done to calculate the
density of each species visiting the lake as less
density of birds was seen in year 2010 as compared
to 2011. Dense populations of common coot were
observed; the census index values turned out to be
AVIFAUNA OF UCHALLI LAKE
Table I.- Census index of avifauna observed at Uchalli lake for year 2010.
Species (Common name) Scientific name Total population
Relative abundance Census index
602±7.61 52.43 70.82
323±4.03 28.13 38.00
61±5.26 5.31 7.17
41±5.75 3.57 4.82
35±4.47 3.04 4.11
34±5.60 2.96 4.00
31±2.92 2.70 3.64
9±3.07 0.78 1.05
1±2.55 0.08 0.11
1±2.54 0.08 0.11
1±1.88 0.08 0.11
a mean population of birds
Table II.- Census index of avifauna observed at Uchalli lake for year 2011
Species (Common name) Scientific name Total population
abundance Census index
1. Common coot
8219±7.69 44.14 871.58
2. Common pochard
3534±4.14 18.98 374.76
3. Common teal
1605±11.5 8.62 170.20
4. Northern shoveler
1215±2.00 6.52 128.84
5. Black-winged stilt
1193±5.37 6.40 126.51
6. Northern pintail
960±9.47 5.15 101.80
7. Little grebe
359±1.30 1.92 38.07
8. Tufted Duck
248±3.85 1.33 26.29
9. Black headed gull
239±4.40 1.28 25.34
234±6.32 1.25 24.81
204±5.34 1.09 21.63
12. Cattle egret
158±1.85 0.84 16.75
13. Little stint
117±6.34 0.62 12.40
14. Little cormorant
39±7.25 0.20 4.13
15. Common snipe
38±4.53 0.20 4.03
16. Red-wattled lapwing
30±6.11 0.16 3.18
17. Indian pond heron
29 0.15 3.07
18. Common sandpiper
25±3.46 0.13 2.65
19. Common moorhen
21±2.82 0.11 2.22
20. Northern lapwing
20±3.92 0.10 2.12
21. Common redshank
20±4.40 0.10 2.12
22. Common tern
14±1.06 0.07 1.48
23. Common greenshank
13±1.77 0.07 1.37
24. Intermediate egret
12±1.85 0.06 1.27
25. Indian River tern
12±2.77 0.06 1.27
26. Purple heron
11±0.92 0.05 1.16
27. Marsh harrier
10±0.00 0.05 1.06
28. Purple swamp hen
9±2.82 0.04 0.95
29. Grey heron
7±2.07 0.03 0.74
30. Greater flamingo
4±2.13 0.02 0.42
31. Kentish plover
4±2.72 0.02 0.42
32. Great bittern
1±3.70 0.01 0.21
33. Indian courser
1±1.23 0.005 0.10
34. Little bittern
1±2.47 0.005 0.10
a mean population of birds
M. ARSHAD ET AL.
70.82/km2 and 871.58/km2 for 2010 and 2011,
respectively. Shannon-Weiner diversity index was
used to calculate the species diversity for Uchalli
lake in year 2010 and 2011. Diversity of avifauna
was higher for 2011 (1.88) as compared to 2010
(1.47). Species richness was also high in 2011.
However, evenness was more in 2010 as compared
to 2011 (Table III).
Among 35 species that were recorded from
lake, 21 species were wintering (60%), 6 passage
migrants (17.14%), 2 summer breeders (5.71%) and
6 year-round residents (17.14%). Furthermore,
species status of avifauna at Uchalli lake was noted.
Bird populations differed at the lake for both years.
Table III.- Summary of different analysis at Uchalli lake
for year 2010 and 2011
Analysis 2010 2011
Area surveyed (ha)
Number of species
Diversity Index 1.47 1.88
Mergalef index (M)
Evenness index (E)
(52.43) Common Coot
Species status of birds was determined according to
their population numbers. In 2010 out of total 11
species five species were very common followed by
very rare (3), abundant (2) and fairly common (1).
Whereas in 2011, eleven species were fairly
common followed by very abundant (5), abundant
(5), common (4), uncommon (3) and very rare
(Fig. 2). Feeding habits of birds were also
determined. Carnivorous birds (insects, crustaceans,
fish, frog and mollusks) were higher (68%) than
omnivorous (29%; seeds, submerged vegetation,
shoots, leaves, insects, small beetles, insect larvae,
worms, and micro-crustacea) and herbivorous birds
(3%; vegetation in water and shoots of the plants;
Fig. 3). Different trend of species status was
observed in both years. With the rise in number of
species and their population an upward trend was
noted in 2011. Rainfall records were also taken. In
year 2009, the amount of rainfall was 225mm while
in year 2010 it was 668mm.
Fig. 2. comparison of species status at
Uchalli lake for year 2010 and 2011.
Fig. 3. Feeding habits of birds at Uchalli lake.
The EC values ranged between 39830.33-
39831 µScm-1 while the pH varied from 9.10 to
9.12. The temperature varied from 20.08-20.29 ºC
(Table IV). Not much variation was observed at
different sampling stations in the same month. The
transparency of lake varied temporally. Overall, the
transparency values ranged between 63.66 and
64.58 cm. Other physico-chemical parameters
including nitrates, sulphates, calcium, magnesium,
total hardness, carbonates, bicarbonates, chloride
and total phosphorous were also studied (Table IV).
All these parameters had varied values in different
months of the year. However, less variation was
seen in concentration of sulphates, nitrates, total
phosphorous, total hardness, carbonates and
bicarbonates. Slight variation was seen in calcium,
AVIFAUNA OF UCHALLI LAKE
Table IV.- Analytical values of different surface quality parameters in Uchalli lake
Parameter Sampling Locations USEPA/WHO
Site 1 Site 2 Site 3
20.08±6.02 20.12±5.93 20.29±6.61 -
64.58±16.16 63.91±16.82 63.66±16.85 -
9.12±0.18* 9.10±0.17* 9.11±0.17* 6.5-9
Electrical conductivity (µScm
39830.33±39.72 39831±39.271 39831±39.43 -
Total nardness (mg/L)
712.66±16.52* 710.41±15.47* 712.75±14.68* 500
0.076±0.007 0.076±0.007 0.076±0.007 -
Total phosphorous (mg/L)
0.683±0.067 0.680±0.066 0.682±0.066 400
7208.16±3.24* 7207.75±3.64* 7207.83±2.88* 250
0.072±0.0419* 0.073±0.0424* 0.075±0.0399* 0.002
0.053±0.0337* 0.0537±0.033* 0.047±0.0331* 0.04
0.015±0.007 0.014±0.006 0.016±0.006 0.016
0.167±0.0577* 0.166±0.0544* 0.159±0.0559* 0.013
6.681±2.188* 6.682±2.1878* 6.683±2.1876* 1.000
0.499±0.3526* 0.5005±0.3522* 0.501±0.3503* 0.4
0.148±0.054 0.152±0.0549 0.151±0.0551 0.470
0.208±0.060* 0.210±0.0598* 0.210±0.0594* 0.065
0.596±0.303* 0.598±0.3019* 0.597±0.305* 0.12
3584.58±10.94* 3584.08±10.38* 3583.91±9.80* 860
94.83±7.73 94±5.87 94.5±6.25 200
617.83±9.24* 617.75±9.05* 618.25±8.88* 100
341.25±2.05 342.25±2.13 342.66±2.30 -
775.25±3.07 774.58±3.02 775.91±2.27 -
a USEPA (2002)
b WHO (1985, 2006)
*values higher than USEPA/WHO standards
magnesium and chlorides. The heavy metal
concentrations in the surface water samples from
Uchalli lake followed the decreasing trend: Fe>
Zn> Mn> Pb> Cu> Ni> Cd> Co> Cr for three sites
(Table IV). Minimum values for Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Ni
and Zn were recorded during June and July.
However, maximum level for Co was found in July.
Furthermore, minimum concentration of Pb, Co and
Mn was recorded during August, December and
According to the distribution of heavy metals
to the sampling sites, the difference in the
measurements between sampling sites for all heavy
metals was found to be non-significant (p > 0.05).
A total of 331 species of birds were reported
by Roberts (1991, 1992) from Salt Range Wetlands
Complex (Kallar Kahar, Nammal, Uchalli, Khabeki
and Jahlar lakes) and its catchment area out of
which 164 were passerines and 167 were non
passerines. Grimmett et al. (2001) had recorded 346
species from the same area. Surveys done by Ali
and Chaudhary (2006) indicated the presence of 121
species among which the House Crow, Common
Coot, Common Pochard, Mallard, Gadwall,
Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler and Black-
winged Stilt had very high populations in the Salt
Range Wetlands Complex.
Uchalli lake had been a major wintering
ground of majority of waterfowl which spend
winters here and fly back to their breeding grounds.
Majority of birds that visit these wetlands come
from Europe and Siberia (Ali, 2005). The migratory
birds start their journey from frozen grounds of
Europe and northern Asia on the arrival of winter
season when food resources become scarce due to
snow cover. These birds breed in summer when the
photoperiods are longer and food is abundant. They
take up major migratory routes termed as flyways to
reach their wintering grounds. Bird migration is a
complex phenomenon and involves many
physiological processes. Bird migration starts
M. ARSHAD ET AL.
mostly at dusk when winds are favorable. This also
protects them from likely predation risks which are
least at night (Ali, 2005).
Uchalli lake had suffered major
morphometric and climatic changes in past (Ali,
2005) thus the migratory avifauna that visited this
complex had declined considerably with the changes
in characteristics of this wetland (Ali, 2005; Ali and
Chaudhary, 2006; Azam et al., 2008) as noted in the
current study. Distribution of waterfowl is
determined by the structure and form of wetland.
Current study suggested that migratory birds were
attracted to a large extent with higher water level in
lake. This could be seen as the bird populations
differed in co-relation with a change in area of the
lakes. In 2010 when water level was less, bird
population count was just 1,139 while this number
rose to 18,606 due to higher water level. The
amount of precipitation determined the
morphometery of lake each year. As the avifauna
census was conducted in first two months of year
2010 and 2011 so the rainfall records of year 2009
and 2010 were taken into account. The amount of
precipitation in year 2009 was not ample to fill up
the lake. However, in year 2010, heavy monsoon
rains helped in bringing the wetland back to life. So
a positive correlation among the bird population and
amount of precipitation was indicated by these
Thus the Uchalli lake supported high number
of birds due to availability of sufficient resources to
waterbirds. Each bird species had its own ecological
needs and specialized on a particular food type.
Birds inhabiting a particular ecosystem reflect its
resources like vegetation types and food production.
The bird numbers declined gradually due to
shrinkage of lake upto 70% and population count
was measured even below 1,000 (Ali, 2005).
Urbanization could also be responsible for
decreasing species richness and abundance (Yu and
Being an important wintering area for birds
Uchalli lake supported a large number of species of
waterfowl amongst which the most significant were
the Greater Flamingo, ducks, Common Coot and
waders. The population of the birds was strictly
dependent on water level and the extent of salinity
differed each year. In a census during winter of
1985/86, over 100,000 waterfowl were reported,
large numbers of Fulica atra constituted that
population. About 50,000 Fulica atra were observed
in November 1986 (Ali, 2005; Chaudhary, 2002).
Uchalli lake which was once considered as a
paradise of waterfowl suffered heavy degradation as
only 11 species were observed in 2010 with
numbers upto 1,139 in the present study. Monsoon
rains in 2010 resulted in an increase in the lake area
and the following year supported quite high
populations of birds recorded at Uchalli lake i.e.
18,606. The Fulica atra population count in 2011
was about 8,000. Gray wagtail was the only species
that wasn’t seen in 2011 and it did not visit any
other lake of the Uchalli Wetlands Complex too.
The most rich, diverse, wonderful and
magnificent winter visitors to Pakistan and Indian
sub-continent are the ducks and waders that make
up the 85% of water bird populations (Alfred et al.,
2001). Likewise in our study, ducks visited the
wetland in significant numbers constituting fairly
large populations. Birds share a unique relationship
with wetlands. Various physical and biological
factors contribute in shaping this exclusive
dependence of birds on wetlands. These attributes
include the availability, quality, temperature and
depth of water; food availability and shelter;
vegetation, its types and distribution; geographical
location of water body; and predation risks (Ali,
2005). Any variation in these characteristics may
cause distinct differences in the use of wetlands by
birds. Different species inhabiting a particular
aquatic ecosystem have different micro habitats and
nest at different times of the year. These
relationships are indeed complex and need to be
understood from conservation point of view of
important avian species.
Ducks are affected more by wetland features
like water chemistry, total area of wetland basins
because their populations are more aquatic and less
terrestrial (Cross, 1988). Different species of water
birds prefer different levels of water for their food.
Each species has its own desirable range of water
depths. Diving birds prefer deep water level and
some birds need depths more than 1m (Halse et al.,
1993). These observations hold well in present study
as lower number of birds was seen during 2010
when there was less water in the lake. Seemingly,
AVIFAUNA OF UCHALLI LAKE
the birds migrated locally to the other wetlands
because of resource shortage. Trends in water bird
population could be the indicator of ecological
change (Ali, 2005). About seven duck species were
observed in the present study. Majority of the ducks
were omnivorous which fed on variety of food like
seeds, molluscs, insects, water weeds, annelid
worms, amphibian tadpoles, crustaceans etc. Some
feeders forage for food in the wetland soils, some
find food in the water column, and some feed on the
vertebrates and invertebrates that live on submerged
and emergent plants. Vegetarian birds eat the fruits,
tubers, and leaves of wetland plants. Ducks were
seen in greater number at Uchalli lake due to its
abundant resources and high carrying capacity.
In our study, most frequent populations
observed in both years were of Common Coot
(Fulica atra), Common Pochard (Aythya ferina),
Common Teal (Anas crecca), Black-winged Stilt
(Himantopus himantopus), Northern Shoveler (Anas
clypeata) and Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) which
constituted nearly 90% of the abundance of the
species inhabiting Uchalli lake. Our results were
almost similar to that of Ali (2005) where Greater
Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) was also the part
of most abundant species but in current study the
Flamingo population seemed to have declined at the
lake as only 35 birds were observed in the two year
study period. This lake had been regarded as a
regular wintering area for Greater Flamingoes
(Roberts, 1991). Uchalli lake in particular was
famous for Flamingoes; every wintering season 100-
150 birds stopped over for 3-4 weeks and refueled
themselves for the long journey (Ahmed, 2000).
Roberts (1991) reported that the Flamingo
populations that visit Salt Range breed in
Afghanistan while Ali (2005) mentioned that
Flamingo populations breed at Uchalli Wetlands
complex as the birds were seen to be nesting at
eastern edge of Uchalli lake. Ali (2005) termed
Uchalli Wetlands Complex as the resident area of
Greater Flamingos. No such evidence was seen in
Species which need immediate conservation
are Great Bittern, little Bittern, Indian Courser, Gray
Wagtail, Greater Flamingo and Water Rail as these
visited the lake in very low numbers. These species
are needed to be conserved so that biodiversity of
the wetland be maintained which it is famous for.
The analysis of surface water was done to
determine pollutant levels and the effect of
contamination on aquatic flora and fauna. In metal
analysis it was observed that most of the heavy
metals were above the permissible limits set by
USEPA (2002). Cadmium, copper, chromium, iron,
manganese, lead and zinc had concentrations higher
than the acceptable values (WHO 1985, 2006).
The most highly concentrated metal found in
Uchalli lake was Iron (6.683 mg/L; Table IV), far
higher than standard value (1 mg/L; USEPA 2002).
High value was most probably due to the
surrounding hills which possess a high amount of
iron. The surface run off from hills and agricultural
wastes bring Fe to the lake water (Ikem et al.,
2003). Iron is an essential metal and is required for
certain redox reactions as a part of enzymes and it is
an important component of hemoglobin molecule
which binds oxygen during respiration (Beard and
Dawson, 1997; Pinero et al., 2000, Wood and
Ronnenberg, 2006). Iron appears in higher
concentration in lakes because it is an essential
component of clay minerals which are abundantly
found in lakes (Carrol, 1958).
Another heavy metal found naturally is Zinc.
In the current study, its concentration (0.596 mg/L;
Table IV) was also found to be above the normal
levels. It is widely used in corrosion- resistant
alloys, brass, steel and iron products. Zinc
carbamates are now-a-days used as pesticides
(Elinder et al., 1986).
Manganese (0.5005 mg/L) was also reported
to be higher in concentration, in current study, than
the limits set by USEPA (2002). Mn is not a toxic
metal but the possible source may be domestic
waste water, raw sewage and agricultural waste
water. Such sources of contamination were also
reported by Keen et al. (2000).
One of the oldest metals known to man is
lead and is discharged in the lake water through
paints, solders, pipes, building material, gasoline
etc. (Dixit and Tiwari, 2008). High concentration of
lead (0.2107 mg/L; Table IV) was found in surface
water of Uchalli lake. The possible source of Pb in
studied lake could be domestic sewage, urbanization
and geology of catchments.Higher values in studied
lake could be due to atmospheric fallout of Pb+2, an
M. ARSHAD ET AL.
important source of lead in the freshwaters (Franson
et al., 1983). Lead has toxic effects and can cause
mortality to aquatic biota (Sorensen, 1991; Heath,
1995; Ciftci-Soydemir et al., 2008).
The highest value for Cd (0.075 mg/L; Table
IV) was higher than USEPA water quality criteria
(0.002 mg/L; USEPA 2002). The higher level of Cd
was due to natural sources of emission to
environment: soil particles from weathering of
rocks. Furthermore, cadmium is released from
anthropogenic sources of emission from commercial
uses, burning of fossil fuels, municipal effluents and
metal extraction. The excessive use of phosphate
fertilizers in agriculture field had shown to increase
leaching of Cd+2 from soil particles, which
ultimately reached the lake water (Mason, 2002).
Chromium oxidizes from trivalent to
hexavalent state. Cr+3 ion is an essential nutrient, but
Cr6+ ion is toxic and can damage adrenals, lungs and
livers (Pechova and Pavlata, 2007). The
concentration of Cr+3 in lake water was 0.0169 mg/L
which was around its standard value (0.016 mg/L)
set by USEPA (2002). The metal could end up in
lake water in the dissolved form through domestic
There were almost no signs of heavy metals
in Uchalli lake in 1994. Water analysis for surface
water was carried out and a few metals (Fe+2, Cu+2,
Zn+2 and Mn) were detected in trace amounts.
Heavy metals like Cd+2 and Pb+2 were not present in
lake water (Afzal et al., 1998). Sulphates, nitrates,
chlorides, phosphorous, calcium and magnesium
were already present in lake due to domestic sewage
inputs and runoff from agricultural fields and
because of its situation in salt range. But the
concentration of these parameters in the current
study has increased to a considerable level showing
that the continuous addition of domestic waste and
fertilizers is causing further degradation of the lake.
Sediments act as reservoir for all
contaminants and dead organic matter which
descends from the surface water to the bottom of the
lake (Hamed, 1998; Nguyen et al., 2005). So it is
quite probable that these heavy metals would be
present in larger amounts in sediments as compared
to the surface water.
High salinity of water and presence of various
toxic heavy metals make the water of Uchalli lake
unfit for human consumption. This was supported
by another study performed on Uchalli lake where a
high concentration of fecal coliforms and Halophiles
was found in lake water (Imran Ullah et al., 2012).
The values of various parameters are far higher than
the WHO limits for drinking purposes. This all
could be attributed to unsustainable human activities
like agriculture, laundry, household use and direct
discharge from settlements. Metal toxicity could
also be hazardous for the avifauna, both resident and
migratory, and other animal life depending on the
lake. Phytoplanktons actively absorb metals from
water and are a diet of birds. This metal
concentration could build up in the tissues of
animals eating them and thus alter their physiology.
Bio magnification of these metals could be lethal.
Thus aquatic life could come under stress and these
contaminants might build up in quite a high
concentration if immediate actions are not taken to
control the discharge of these toxic entities into the
lake. Decrease in number of migrants could also be
accredited to the extent of contamination in the lake.
Sudden rise in bird population in 2011 due to
heavy rainfall in monsoon was like the revival of
this Ramsar site. Before this the wetland was facing
long spells of dry seasons due to which bird
population had declined drastically. The main
identified threats to this wetland were agricultural
practices, poaching, climate change, and usage of
lake water for domestic purposes. The information
is put forward with a hope that it will help out the
policy makers to sustain, conserve and safeguard
this natural and national asset to maintain its
ecological balance. On the other hand, high bird
populations at the lake meant that this Ramsar site is
still capable of supporting these species that had
once abandoned the lake due to its degradation and
water loss. If the climatic conditions remain
favourable and the water extent of the lake keeps on
increasing these species would become the regular
visitors and take pleasure in staying at this wintering
The authors are thankful to Pakistan
Wetlands Program and World Wildlife Fund-
Pakistan for lending a helping hand. Thanks to Dr.
AVIFAUNA OF UCHALLI LAKE
Masood Arshad, Senior Manager, Pakistan
Wetlands Programme. We are especially grateful to
Hafiz Muhammad Bakhsh, Site Manager, Salt
Range Wetlands Complex as he facilitated the
collection of water samples for an entire year.
ADEMOROTI, C. M. A., 1996. Standard methods for water
and effluent analysis. Foludex Press Ltd, Ibadan.
AFZAL, S., YOUNAS, M. AND ALI, K., 1998. Temporal
variability of water quality of saline lakes from Soan-
Sakesar Valley, Salt Range, Pakistan. Water Qual Res J
Can., 33 :331-346.
AHMED, Z., 2000. Conservation of wildlife and its habitats in
Soan Valley. www.wildlifeofpakistan.com/
researchpapers. 25 February 2013.
ALERSTAM, T. AND HEDENSTRÖM, A., 1998. The
development of bird migration theory. J. Avian Biol.,
ALFRED, J. R. B., KUMAR, A., TAK, P. C. AND SATI, J. P.,
2001. Water birds of Northern India. Rec. Zool. Surv.
India Occas. Pap. No. 190, 1st edit. Zoological Survey
of India, Kolkata.
ALI, S. AND RIPLEY, S. D., 1987. Handbook of the Birds of
India and Pakistan. Oxford University Press, Bombay.
ALI, Z., 2005. Ecology, distribution, and conservation of
migratory birds at Uchalli Wetlands Complex, Punjab,
Pakistan. Ph.D. dissertation, University of the Punjab,
ALI, Z. AND AKHTAR, M., 2005. Bird surveys at wetlands in
Punjab, Pakistan, with special reference to the present
status of White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala.
ALI, Z. AND CHAUDHARY, J. I., 2006. Salt Range wetlands
complex, exploratory / baseline survey 2006. Pakistan
Wetlands Project, Publication Series II. Islamabad,
ARSHAD, M., 2011. Management plan, Ucchali Wetlands
Complex. The Ministry of Environment’s Pakistan
Wetlands Program. Islamabad, Pakistan.
AZAM, M. M., BROHI, M. A. AND AHMED, W., 2008.
Studies on the population status of water birds in major
wetlands of upper Punjab. Rec. Zool. Surv. Pakistan,
BEARD, J. L. AND DAWSON, H. D., 1997. Iron. In:
Handbook of nutritionally essential minerals (eds. B.L.
O'Dell and R.A. Sunde). Marcel Dekker, Inc, New
BIBBY, C.J. AND BURGES, N.D., 1992. Bird census
techniques. Academic Press Limited, London.
BROWNE, D. M. AND DELL, R., 2007.Conserving waterfowl
and wetlands amid climate change. Ducks Unlimited,
Inc. http://www.seasonsend.org/pdfs/ DU%20%20
Accessed 12 January 2013.
BULL, J., 1964. Birds of the New York area. Harper and Row,
CARROL, P., 1958. Role of clay minerals in transportation of
iron. Geochim. Cosmochim. Ac., 23: 9-60.
CHAUDHARY, A. A., 2002. White-headed duck survey in
Pakistan. Wetlands International, Kuala- Lumpur,
CIFTCI-SOYDEMIR, N., CICIK, B., ERDEM, C. AND AY,
O., 2008. Effects of lead concentrations on sera
parameters and hematocrit levels in Anguilla anguilla
L., 1758. J. fish. Sci. com., 2: 616-622.
CRICK, H. Q. P. AND SPARKS, T. H., 1999.Climate change
related to egg laying trends. Nature, 399: 423-424.
CROSS, D. H., 1988. Waterfowl Management Handbook. Fish
and Wildlife Leaflet 13, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
DIXIT, S. AND TIWARI, S., 2008. Impact assessment of
heavy metal pollution of Shahpura Lake, Bhopal, India.
Int. J. environ. Res., 2:37-42.
ELINDER, C. G., 1986. Zinc. In: Handbook on the toxicology
of metals (eds. L. Friberg, G.F. Nordberg and V.B.
Vouk), 2nd edt. Elsevier Science Publishers,
Amsterdam, pp. 664-679.
FRANSON, J. C., SILEO, L., PATTEE, O. H. AND MOORE,
J. F., 1983. Effects of chronic dietary lead in American
kestrels (Falco sparverius). J. Wildlif. Dis., 19: 110-
GALBRAITH, H., AMERASINGHE, P. AND HUBER-LEE,
A., 2005. The effects of agricultural irrigation on
wetland ecosystems in developing countries: A
literature review. CA Discussion Paper 1. Colombo, Sri
Lanka: Comprehensive Assessment Secretariat.http://
Accessed 25 February 2013.
GRIMMETT, R., ROBERTS, T. AND INSKIPP, T., 2001.
Pocket guide to the birds of the Indian Subcontinent.
Christopher Helm, London.
GRIMMETT, R., ROBERTS, T. AND INSKIPP, T., 2008.
Birds of Pakistan. Christopher Helm, London.
HAIRSTON, N.G.J. AND FUSSMANN, G.F., 2002.
Encyclopedia of life sciences. Macmillan Publishers
Ltd, Nature Publishing Group. http://biology.mcgill.ca/
df. Accessed 25 February 2013.
HALSE, S. A., WILLIAMS, M. R., JAENCH, R. P. AND
LANE, J. A. K., 1993. Wetland characteristics and
waterbird use of wetlands in southwestern Australia.
Wildlife. Res., 20: 103-126.
HAMED, M. A., 1998. Distribution of trace metals in the River
Nile ecosystem, Damietta branch between Mansoura
city and Damietta Province. J. Egypt. Ger. Soc. Zool.,
M. ARSHAD ET AL.
HEATH, A.G., 1995. Water pollution and fish physiology.
C.R.C Press, Boca Raton, Florida.
HÜPPOP, O. AND HÜPPOP, K., 2003. North Atlantic
Oscillation and timing of spring migration in birds.
Proc. R. Soc. Lond., 270:233-240.
IKEM, A., EGIEBOR, N. O. AND NYAVOR, K., 2003. Trace
elements in water, fish and sediment from Tuskegee
Lake, Southeastern USA. Water Air Soil Pollut., 149:
IMRAN ULLAH, AHMAD, K. AND ALI, Z., 2012. Coliforms
and Halophiles pollution in surface and sub-surface
water of Salt Range Wetlands, Punjab, Pakistan. Rec.
Zool. Surv. Pakistan, 21:42-46.
JENNI, L. AND KERY, M., 2003. Timing of autumn bird
migration under climate change: advances in long-
distance migrants, delays in short-distance migrants.
Proc. R. Soc. Lond., 270 :1467-1471.
JONZEN, N., HEDENSTROM, A., HJORT, C., LINDSTROM,
A., LUNDBERG, P. AND ANDERSON, A., 2002.
Climate patterns and the stochastic dynamics of
migratory birds. Oikos, 97: 329-336.
KAR, D., SUR, P., MANDAL, S. K., SAHA, T. AND KOLE,
R. K., 2008. Assesment of heavy metal pollution in
surface water. Intl. J. environ. Sci. Tech., 5: 119-124.
KEEN, C. L., ENSUNSA, J. L. AND CLEGG, M.S., 2000.
Manganese metabolism in animals and humans
including the toxicity of manganese. Met .Ions Biol.
KUSHLAN, J. A., 1993. Waterbirds as bioindicators of wetland
change: are they a valuable tool. In: Proceedings of
Symposia, St. Petersburg Beach, Florida, USA,
waterfowl and wetland conservation in the 1990s - a
global perspective (eds. M. Moser, R.C. Prentice and J.
van Vessem), IWRB Special Publication No. 26.
International Waterfowl and Wetlands Research
Bureau, Slimbridge, UK, pp.48-55.
LAXEN, D. P. H. AND HARRISON, R. M., 1981. A scheme
for physiological specification of trace metals in fish
samples. Sci. Total. Environ., 19: 59-82.
LUDWIG, J.A. AND REYNOLDS, J.F., 1988. Statistical
ecology. John Wiley and Sons, U.S.A.
MARGALEF, D. R., 1958. Information theory in ecology.
Gene. Systemat., 3: 36-71.
MASON, C. F., 2002. Biology of freshwater pollution, 4th ed.
Essex University England.
MCALLISTER, D. E., HAMILTON, A. L. AND HARVEY, B.,
1997. Global freshwater biodiversity for the crisis.
Conserv. Biol., 16:1-3.
MCCASKLE, G., 1970. Shorebirds and waterbirds use of the
Salton Sea. Calif. Fish. Game, 66: 87-95.
MUSTIN, K., WILLAMS, J. S. AND GILL, J. A., 2007. The
complexity of predicting climate-induced ecological
impacts. Clim. Res., 35: 165-175.
NEWTON, I., 2008. The Migration ecology of birds. Academic
Press, Elsevier. Amsterdam, Boston, Heidelberg,
London, New York, Oxford, Paris, San Francisco,
Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo.
NGUYEN, H., LEERMARKERS, M., OSAN, J., TFRFK, S.
AND BAEYENS, W., 2005. Heavy metals in Lake
Balaton: water column, suspended matter, sediment and
biota. Sci. Total. Environ., 340: 213-230.
PECHOVA, A. AND PAVLATA, L., 2007. Chromium as an
essential nutrient: A review. Vet. Med., 52:1-18.
PIELOU, E. C., 1966. The measurement of diversity in different
types of biological collections. J. Theor. Biol., 13:131-
PINERO, D. J., HU, J. AND CONNOR, J. R., 2000. Alterations
in the interaction between iron regulatory proteins and
their iron responsive element in normal and Alzheimer's
diseased brains. Cell. Mol. Biol., 46: 761-776.
PRZBYLO, R., SHELDON, B. C. AND MERILA, J., 2000.
Climatic effects on breeding and morphology: evidence
for phenotypic plasticity. J. Anim. Ecol., 69: 395-403.
RICCIARDI, A. AND RASMMUSEN, J. B., 1999. Extinction
rates of North American freshwater fauna. Conserv.
Biol., 13: 1220-1222.
ROBERTS, T. J., 1991.Birds of Pakistan, Vol. I. Oxford
University Press, Karachi.
ROBERTS, T. J., 1992. Birds of Pakistan, Vol. II. Oxford
University Press, Karachi.
SHANNON, C. E. AND WEINER, W., 1963. The
mathematical theory of communication. Univ. Illinois,
SORENSEN, E. M., 1991. Metal poisoning in fish. C.R.C Press,
Boca Raton, U.S.A.
SPARKS, T. H. AND MASON, C. F., 2004. Can we detect
change in the phenology of winter migrant birds in the
UK. Ibis, 146:57-60.
STEEL, R. G. D. AND TORRIE, J. H., 1980. Principles and
procedures of statistics. A biometrical approach.
McGraw Hill Inter. Book Co. Tokyo, Japan.
SUTHERLAND, W. J., 1996. Ecological Census Techniques, a
handbook. Cambridge University Press.
TRYJANOWSKI, P., KU´ZNIAK, S. AND SPARKS, T. H.,
2002. Earlier arrival of some farmland migrants in
western Poland. Ibis, 144:62-68.
U. S. E. P. A., 2002. National recommended water quality
criteria. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
Research Triangle Park, NC, EPA 822-R-02-012.
EI.txt. Accessed 25 February 2013.
W.H.O, 1985. Guidelines for drinking-water quality. World
Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.
W.H.O, 2006. Guidelines for drinking-water quality. World
Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.
WOOD, R. J. AND RONNENBERG, A. G., 2006. Iron. In:
AVIFAUNA OF UCHALLI LAKE
Modern nutrition in health and disease (eds. M.E. Shils,
M. Shike, A.C. Ross, B. Caballero and R.J. Cousins),
10th edt. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, Philadelphia,
WOODCOCK, M. W., 1980. Collins hand guide to the birds of
the Indian Sub-Continent. William Collins Sons and Co.
WYLYNKO, D., 1999. Prairie wetlands and carbon
sequestration. Assessing sinks under the Kyoto
Protocol. International Institute for Sustainable
Development. Winnipeg, Canada.
YU, T. AND GUO, Y., 2013. Effects of Urbanization on Bird
Species Richness and Community Composition.
Pakistan J. Zool., 45(1): 59-69.
(Received 28 October 2013, revised 7 January 2014)