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Avifauna Studies in Co-Relation with Alteration in Climatic Patterns and Hydrology of Uchalli Lake, Punjab, Pakistan


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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
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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,
Rawalpindi, Pakistan
5Department of Zoology, Wildlife & Fisheries, GC University, Faislabad, Pakıstan
6Department of Biosciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT), Park Road, Chak Shazad,
Islamabad, Pakistan
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:
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
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.
Study area
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;
Arshad, 2011).
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
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
Census Index:
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
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).
Physicochemical parameters
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.
Statistical analysis
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
Table I.- Census index of avifauna observed at Uchalli lake for year 2010.
Species (Common name) Scientific name Total population
Relative abundance Census index
Common coot
ulica atra
602±7.61 52.43 70.82
Northern pintail
Anas acuta
323±4.03 28.13 38.00
Anas strepera
61±5.26 5.31 7.17
Anas platyrhynchos
41±5.75 3.57 4.82
Gray wagtail
Motacilla cinerea
35±4.47 3.04 4.11
Black-winged stilt
Himantopus himant
34±5.60 2.96 4.00
Greater flamingo
Phoenicopterus ruber
31±2.92 2.70 3.64
Kentish plover
Charadrius alexandrinus
9±3.07 0.78 1.05
Great bittern
Botaurus stellaris
1±2.55 0.08 0.11
Indian courser
Cursorius coromandelicus
1±2.54 0.08 0.11
Little bittern
Ixobrychus minutus
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
Fulica atra
8219±7.69 44.14 871.58
2. Common pochard
Aythya ferina
3534±4.14 18.98 374.76
3. Common teal
Anas crecca
1605±11.5 8.62 170.20
4. Northern shoveler
Anas clypeata
1215±2.00 6.52 128.84
5. Black-winged stilt
Himantopus himantopus
1193±5.37 6.40 126.51
6. Northern pintail
Anas acuta
960±9.47 5.15 101.80
7. Little grebe
Tachybaptus ruficollis
359±1.30 1.92 38.07
8. Tufted Duck
Aythya fuligula
248±3.85 1.33 26.29
9. Black headed gull
Larus ridibundus
239±4.40 1.28 25.34
10. Mallard
Anas platyrhynchos
234±6.32 1.25 24.81
11. Gadwall
Anas strepera
204±5.34 1.09 21.63
12. Cattle egret
Bubulcus ibis
158±1.85 0.84 16.75
13. Little stint
Calidris minuta
117±6.34 0.62 12.40
14. Little cormorant
Phalacrocorax niger
39±7.25 0.20 4.13
15. Common snipe
Gallinago gallinago
38±4.53 0.20 4.03
16. Red-wattled lapwing
Vanellus indicus
30±6.11 0.16 3.18
17. Indian pond heron
Ardeola grayii
29 0.15 3.07
18. Common sandpiper
Actitis hypoleucos
25±3.46 0.13 2.65
19. Common moorhen
Gallinula choloropus
21±2.82 0.11 2.22
20. Northern lapwing
Vanellus van
20±3.92 0.10 2.12
21. Common redshank
Tringa totanus
20±4.40 0.10 2.12
22. Common tern
Sterna hirundo
14±1.06 0.07 1.48
23. Common greenshank
Tringa nebularia
13±1.77 0.07 1.37
24. Intermediate egret
Mesophoyx intermedia
12±1.85 0.06 1.27
25. Indian River tern
na aurantia
12±2.77 0.06 1.27
26. Purple heron
Ardea purpurea
11±0.92 0.05 1.16
27. Marsh harrier
Circus aeeruginosus
10±0.00 0.05 1.06
28. Purple swamp hen
Porphyrio porphyrio
9±2.82 0.04 0.95
29. Grey heron
Ardea cinerea
7±2.07 0.03 0.74
30. Greater flamingo
erus ruber
4±2.13 0.02 0.42
31. Kentish plover
Charadrius alexandrinus
4±2.72 0.02 0.42
32. Great bittern
Botaurus stellaris
1±3.70 0.01 0.21
33. Indian courser
Cursorius coromandelicus
1±1.23 0.005 0.10
34. Little bittern
Ixobrychus minutus
1±2.47 0.005 0.10
a mean population of birds
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)
850 943
Total population
1139 18,606
Number of species
11 34
Census index
Diversity Index 1.47 1.88
Mergalef index (M)
1.41 3.35
Evenness index (E)
0.60 0.53
Dominant species
Common Coot
(52.43) Common Coot
Sub-dominant species
Northern Pintail
(28.13) Common
Pochard (18.98)
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,
Table IV.- Analytical values of different surface quality parameters in Uchalli lake
Parameter Sampling Locations USEPA/WHO
Site 1 Site 2 Site 3
Temperature (°C)
20.08±6.02 20.12±5.93 20.29±6.61 -
Transparency (Cm)
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
Nitrates (mg/L)
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
Sulphates (mg/L)
7208.16±3.24* 7207.75±3.64* 7207.83±2.88* 250
Cadmium (mg/L)
0.072±0.0419* 0.073±0.0424* 0.075±0.0399* 0.002
Cobalt (mg/L)
0.053±0.0337* 0.0537±0.033* 0.047±0.0331* 0.04
Chromium (mg/L)
0.015±0.007 0.014±0.006 0.016±0.006 0.016
Copper (mg/L)
0.167±0.0577* 0.166±0.0544* 0.159±0.0559* 0.013
Iron (mg/L)
6.681±2.188* 6.682±2.1878* 6.683±2.1876* 1.000
Manganese (mg/L)
0.499±0.3526* 0.5005±0.3522* 0.501±0.3503* 0.4
Nickel (mg/L)
0.148±0.054 0.152±0.0549 0.151±0.0551 0.470
Lead (mg/L)
0.208±0.060* 0.210±0.0598* 0.210±0.0594* 0.065
Zinc (mg/L)
0.596±0.303* 0.598±0.3019* 0.597±0.305* 0.12
Chloride (mg/L)
3584.58±10.94* 3584.08±10.38* 3583.91±9.80* 860
Calcium (mg/L)
94.83±7.73 94±5.87 94.5±6.25 200
Magnesium (mg/L)
617.83±9.24* 617.75±9.05* 618.25±8.88* 100
Carbonates (mg/L)
341.25±2.05 342.25±2.13 342.66±2.30 -
Bicarbonates (mg/L)
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
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
Guo, 2013).
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,
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
current study.
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
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.
Masood Arshad, Senior Manager, Pakistan
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Hafiz Muhammad Bakhsh, Site Manager, Salt
Range Wetlands Complex as he facilitated the
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(Received 28 October 2013, revised 7 January 2014)
... Temporal settings of water temperatures (°C) ranged from 7.76 to 32.96, 10.18 to 32.28, and 9.92 to 31.92 for Khabeki, Uchalli, and Jahlar respectively. In a study conducted during August 2010 to July 2011 (Arshad et al. 2014), temperature was low comparable to the present study which shows that temperature is rising over the years. Rising temperature patterns during the last few years are possibly related to climatic change patterns and greater intensities of solar radiations (Asha et al. 2016). ...
... A study conducted by Jonnalagaddai and Mhere (2001) also supports this pattern where higher phosphate contents were observed in water bodies with low flux pattern. Parameters like sulfate, nitrates, and chlorides were low in concentration in Uchalli Lake in 1994 and 1998, but the results of the study conducted by Arshad et al. (2014) showed considerably higher values that were attributed to rapidly increasing anthropogenic activities. Presence of excessive nutrients may deteriorate water quality in rapid manner (Bhattacharya et al. 2015). ...
... Chemical species have increased their concentration over time, possibly being responsive to dynamic phenomenon, resulting from interaction between mining activities, erosion degradation, and natural processes (Pizarro et al. 2010). In 1994, PHEs were absent in Uchalli Lake (Arshad et al. 2014). After that in 1998, few PHEs like Fe, Cu, Zn, and Mn were absent. ...
Full-text available
Uchalli Wetlands Complex (UWC) is located in District Khushab, Pakistan, which comprised of three lakes named Khabeki, Uchalli, and Jahlar. The UWC Pakistan is one of the Ramsar sites of international importance. However, the information regarding water quality parameters and concentration of potentially harmful elements (PHEs) is relatively short. Present study focused on spatio-temporal variations in the physico-chemical parameters and PHE (Cd, Pb, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cr, As, Mn) concentrations in water and fish samples using inductively coupled plasma. Sampling was done in summer (August 2016) and winter (January 2017) seasons. The overall concentrations of PHEs in water were in the following order: Mn > Zn > Cu > Cr > Ni > Cd > Pb > As for Khabeki; As >Ni > Cr > Mn > Zn > Cu > Cd > Pb for Uchalli; and Mn > Zn > Ni > Cu > As > Cr > Cd > Pb for Jahlar Lake. PHE concentration in fish followed the order Ni > Cd > Mn > Pb > Cu > Zn > Cr > As. PHEs analysis showed that Mn; Ni and As; and Ni and Mn in summer were above the Pakistan Environmental Quality Standards (PEQS) and World Health Organization (WHO) standards in Khabeki, Uchalli, and Jahlar Lakes respectively while in winter, Mn; Cd, Ni, and As; and Ni and Mn were higher than standard values in Khabeki, Uchalli, and Jahlar Lakes respectively. In fish samples, only Cd (0.0942) was higher in summer as compared to winter (0.0512) while other seven PHEs observed were higher in winter. Conclusively, the metal pollution index showed that water quality of UWC is not very fit for human consumption directly. The bioconcentration factor results indicated potential to accumulate PHEs, i.e., Cd (29.4375 and 9.4814), Pb (16.66 and 4.375), and Ni (4.9875 and 6.206), in fish during both sampling campaigns. Target hazard quotient (THQ), target carcinogenic risk (TR), hazard index (HI), estimated daily intake (EDI), and international safe standard limits of PHEs for fish species indicated that fish from UWC is safe for human consumption. Variations in physic-chemical parameters and PHE concentration were observed spatially and temporally that could be caused by precipitation amount or natural geochemistry of the lakes’ crust. The water quality was not suitable for direct human consumption. Fish was only found in Khabeki Lake that had potential to accumulate Cd, Pb, and Ni more as compared to other studied PHEs.
... We reported black-headed gull was dominant bird species in 2010 with relative abundance of about 50 % whereas drastically lower abundance was recorded during 2011 (124 individuals). Such variations in population decline may be due to population shift towards Uchhali complex owing to restoration of resources (Arshad et al., 2014). Anthropogenic stress increases the short-term variability of ecological communities (Hillebrand et al., 2008). ...
... The decrease in the population of this bird could be due to occupation of the habitat at Mangla Lake by other bird species which may have migrated from other wetlands. Similarly, higher number of population of bird was recorded at Drigh Lake in 2000 (Gabol et al., 2005), Kallar Kahar Lake (Reis et al., 2010) and also at the Uchhali Complex in 2011 (Arshad et al., 2014). White-breasted kingfisher was reported rare in our study which was also resident bird species in Muzaffarabad (Awan et al., 2000). ...
... These wetlands cover almost 1243 hectares area but natural droughts have altered some parts of these wetlands (Ali et al. 2007). Historically, human settlements had been dependent on these wetlands like usage in terms of agriculture and temporary settlements (Arshad et al. 2014). ...
... The results of the present study indicated that the highest Cd concentration (0.28 01 mg/kg) was present in the sediments of Uchalli Lake (winter). Arshad et al. (2014) depicted that Cd concentration in water could be due to soil particles produced after weathering of rocks. Furthermore, phosphates present in wetlands accelerate the leaching of Cd from soil particles (Mason 2002). ...
Full-text available
Wetlands act as kidneys of land and facilitate remediation of metals and other harmful pollutants through uptake by aquatic macrophytes. The aim of the present study was to investigate metal concentrations in sediments and plants, sources of metal origin, and contamination level in Uchalli Wetland Complex. Sediment samples were collected from 15 randomly selected sites. Metal concentrations (Cd, Pb, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cr, As, Mn) in sediments and macrophytes were determined during summer and winter seasons using the inductively coupled plasma technique. Metal concentrations in sediments during summer and winter seasons were in the order as follows: As > Mn > Zn > Cr > Ni > Cd > Pb > Cu and As > Mn > Zn > Cr > Ni > Pb > Cd >Cu respectively. All analyzed metals were within European Union (EU) limits. In macrophytes, these metals were in the order as follows: Mn > As > Ni > Zn > Cr > Cd > Cu > Pb and As > Mn > Zn > Ni > Cr > Cd > Pb during summer and winter seasons respectively. Contamination degree (Cd) (1.023–5.309) for these lakes showed low contamination during both seasons; mCd values (below 1.5) showed very little contamination degree, while the pollution load index (0.012 to 0.0386) indicated no metal pollution in these lakes. PCA applied on sediment showed that Pb, Zn, Cr, Cu, and Cd had anthropogenic sources of origin. As and Mn were due to natural processes while Ni could be resultant of both anthropogenic and natural sources. PCA on macrophytes showed that Ni, Pb, Cr, Zn, Cu; Cd, As; Mn had anthropogenic, natural, and anthropogenic + natural sources of origin. The study concluded that metal concentrations in sediments were not up to dangerous level.
... At Uchalilake, 11 species were visited in 2010, with their total number up to 1,139. In 2011 total, 34 species with a population of 18,606 birds were recorded there (Arshad et al., 2014). While from the Wild habitat of Safari Park area, a total of (n2= 56593) individuals of birds were recorded. ...
... Previous works on this region have described the ecology [e.g. 22], climatic parerns [23] and aquatic biota [24]. The sole study on the presence of metals (e.g. ...
Full-text available
The surfaces of saline lakes are shrinking at a threatening rate worldwide. Likewise, the Uchhali complex (formed by three saltwater lakes located in the Salt Range, Pakistan) that serves as a major regional source of water for humans and as a habitat for water birds must be monitored. With this objective in mind, we conducted a study coupling hydrochemistry and stable isotope compositions (δ 37 Cl, δ 18 O and δD) in order to characterize its hydrochemical properties and the main processes controlling them. Results showed that the Uchhali complex salinity has dramatically increased compared to other similar lakes in the world. While the Uchhali (UL) and Khabbeki (KL) lakes present a sodium-chloride hydrofacies, the Jahlar (JL) is of a sodium-bicarbonate type. Hydrochemistry parameters indicate that the weathering of surrounding rocks is the major vector for the increase of total dissolved solids in the water. On the other hand, the observed enrichment in heavy isotopes of the water stable isotope compositions implies that the different lakes are undergoing a long history of intense evaporation. The study of the corresponding δ 37 Cl isotope compositions supports the conclusion that evaporation, along with weathering, are the main driving processes. Besides climate effects that result in the decrease of annual precipitation and the increase of evaporation, water consumption for domestic purposes (household and agriculture) aggravates the rise of the lakes' salinity.
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A study was carried out at Uchalli Lake, District Khushab on Greater Flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus) to find their behavioral activity pattern. The hypothesis that local climatic temperature affects the wintering behavior of Greater Flamingos was tested. Data were collected for a period of 3 days in March and 10 days in April using focal animal analysis. Each day was divided into four periods (7–8 a.m., 10–11 a.m., 1–2 p.m., and 4–5 p.m.). Activity patterns included characters like feeding, resting, flying, walking, preening, aggression, and alert. Results showed that feeding was the major activity for adults (51.06%) and juveniles (56.51%). Juveniles spent more time (t = − 2.02, p < 0.05) feeding than adults. There was a highly significant difference (t = 3.20, p < 0.01) in alert between adults and juveniles across time periods. Adults spent more time alert (8.3%) than juveniles (4.49%). Only aggression and alert in adults and walking and alert in juveniles was found significantly correlated to change with temperature. The findings of the present study highlighted the need of in-depth eco-ethological study of Greater Flamingo and hydrology of wetland.
Surveys were conducted from November 2004 to July 2005 in three habitat types in southwestern China. A total of 7,628 individuals of 123 bird species were recorded. By comparing our results to those of a previous study in the same area, we found that urbanization was likely responsible for decreasing species richness. Although some endangered water bird species vanished in the River habitats, there was higher species richness and diversity in this habitat than in other habitats, due to high nutrient availability. Additionally, small and isolated forest fragments in suburban areas failed to sustain high diversity, even though the heterogeneity of this environment favours local bird richness. Interestingly, we found signs of recovery of some vanishing native bird species, possibly due to a reduction of pesticide usage in Agricultural habitats.
Saline lakes from the Soan-Sakesar valley are a breeding and feeding habitat for many shorebirds and waterfowl. In 1994, water samples were collected from lakes Uchhali, Khabbaki and Jahlar and analyzed for a variety of parameters such as Secchi disk transparency, chlorophyll a, total phosphorus, nitrate, alkalinity, pH, total dissolved substances, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride and sulfate. Chemical changes observed in 1994 were compared to those of 1986. The three lakes studied can be characterized as hypereutrophic. Their chemistry is controlled mainly by an evaporation-crystallization process and dissolved salts supplied by underlying sedimentary submerged springs. Uchhali Lake is saline, while Khabbaki and Jahlar lakes are brackish. The chemistry of the lakes is discussed in relation to their acidification from coal mines.
This book presents an up-to-date, detailed and thorough review of the most fascinating ecological findings of bird migration. It deals with all aspects of this absorbing subject, including the problems of navigation and vagrancy, the timing and physiological control of migration, the factors that limit their populations, and more. Author, Ian Newton, reveals the extraordinary adaptability of birds to the variable and changing conditions across the globe, including current climate change. This adventurous book places emphasis on ecological aspects, which have received only scant attention in previous publications. Overall, the book provides the most thorough and in-depth appraisal of current information available, with abundant tables, maps and diagrams, and many new insights. Written in a clear and readable style, this book appeals not only to migration researchers in the field and Ornithologists, but to anyone with an interest in this fascinating subject. * Hot ecological aspects include: various types of bird movements, including dispersal and nomadism, and how they relate to food supplies and other external conditions * Contains numerous tables, maps and diagrams, a glossary, and a bibliography of more than 2,700 references * Written by an active researcher with a distinguished career in avian ecology, including migration research.