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Field Validation of Avian Diversity at Uchalli Wetland Complex: A Ramsar Site in Khushab, Pakistan

PJZ_56_1_131-139

Field Validation of Avian Diversity at Uchalli Wetland Complex: A Ramsar Site in Khushab, Pakistan

Adeel Kazam1, Safdar Sidra2, Zulfiqar Ali1*, Rida Ahmad1,3, Ahmad Bilal1 and Aliza Batool1,3

1Institute of Zoology, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan

2Department of Wildlife and Ecology, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan

3Department of Zoology, Lahore College for Women University, Lahore, Pakistan

ABSTRACT

Wetlands are one of the major habitats that play a vital role in the survival of biodiversity. The recent study aimed to evaluate diversity, abundance and threats to birds of an important Ramsar site, Uchalli Wetland Complex, along with Ahmedabad lake. Data were collected by direct (point count) as well as indirect method (interviews) from December 2020 to May 2021. In total, 139 avian species of 27,450 individuals were recorded at study sites. Results revealed that the species richness was maximum at Uchalli (133), followed by Khabbaki (92), Jahlar (88), and Ahmedabad lake (79). The Shannon Weiner index and Simpson index values for Jahlar lake, Uchalli lake, Khabbaki lake, and Ahmedabad lake were (2.99, 0.90), (2.32, 0.82), (2.26, 0.66) and (1.72, 0.51) respectively. The omnivore was the most abundant (40%) feeding guild followed by carnivores (32%) and insectivores (20%). Four vulnerable species sarus crane (Grus antigone), southern grey shrike (Lanius excubitor), imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca), and common pochard (Aythya ferina), four near-threatened species ferruginous pochard (Aythya nyroca), northern lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), alexandrine parakeet (Psittacula eupatria), and pallid harrier (Circus macrourus), and one endangered species steppe eagle (Aquila nipalensis) were observed during the study. These species require special attention for conservation as illegal hunting is one of the major threats to the species in the study area. Other threats include fishing, use of insecticides and pesticides.


Article Information

Received 25 February 2022

Revised 20 June 2022

Accepted 10 August 2022

Available online 28 October 2022

(early access)

Published 11 December 2023

Authors’ Contribution

ZA and AK conceptualized the study. AK, RA, ZA, AB and SS collected the data from field. AK, ZA, SS and RA compiled the data. AK, RA, ABI, and ZA drafted the manuscript. ZA reviewed and improved the manuscript.

Key words

Ahmedabad lake, Feeding guilds, Ramsar site, Salt range, Uchalli wetland complex, Shannon Weiner index, Simpson index

DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.17582/journal.pjz/20220225100237

* Corresponding author: zali.zool@pu.edu.pk

0030-9923/2024/0001-0131 $ 9.00/0

Copyright 2024 by the authors. Licensee Zoological Society of Pakistan.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).



INTRODUCTION

Wetlands are the most productive and complex ecosystem that encompass about 6% of the earth’s land surface (Maltby and Turner, 1983; Maltby, 1986; Unni, 2002). These are providing a vast range of habitats for fauna and flora. Aquatic birds rely on wetlands for their feeding, breeding, nesting, roosting, and moulting (Kumar and Gupta, 2009). Wetlands are not only the shelter of resident bird species but also an important refuge for migratory bird species. Based on altitude, method of formation and geographical location wetlands are highly diverse in nature. Aquatic vegetation characteristic is the primary factor that differentiates wetlands from other water bodies or landforms (Butler et al., 2010). Pakistan has a vast range of ecosystems that entertains rich diversity of avifauna (Khan et al., 1996). More than 650 species have been reported from Pakistan in relation to three Zoogeographical zones, Palaearctic, Ethiopian and Oriental which are globally unique (Grimmett et al., 2001; Mirza and Wasiq, 2007).

Punjab Salt Range encompasses the area east of Jehlum river and west to Kalabagh on the Indus River. Punjab Salt Range is 175 km long and 80 km wide between the Indus and Jehlum river. Punjab Salt Range is the result of the evaporation of the sea which was extended over the Potohor plateau eight hundred million years ago (Ahmed, 1967). Uchalli Wetlands Complex comprises three independent wetlands Uchalli, Khabbaki, and Jahlar located in the Salt Range, Soan Valley Khushab, the north-central part of Punjab, Pakistan with a water surface area of 1,243 hectares and a catchment area of 381 km2. This complex has international importance as it has been declared as a Ramsar site since 1996. This complex is an important wintering site for many vulnerable species including white-headed duck Oxyura leucocephala, graylag goose Anser anser, and greater flamingo, Phoenicopterus roseus (Ali, 2005; Nawazish et al., 2006; Arshad, 2011).

Uchalli lake is the largest lake of Uchalli Wetlands Complex with an area of 943 (9.43 km2) hectares, 764 m above mean sea level, located 60 km northwest of Khushab and 13 km west of village Naushehra. It is brackish to hypersaline water lake (Afzal et al., 1998). The depth of this lake varies from 0.2 to 6 m and pH of about 10. The lake was first declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1985 and included in the Ramsar list on 22 March 1996 (Ali, 2005; Arshad, 2011).

Khabbaki lake is the second largest lake of Uchalli Wetlands Complex covering an area of 283 (2.83 km2) situated 63 km northwest of Khushab and northwest of Naushehra village. Khabbaki lake was listed as a Ramsar site in 1976. It is a shallow brackish water lake located at an elevation of 740 m above mean sea level. The source of water of the lake is through the rain and streams along the hills. There was a decrease in salinity of lake water due to an increase in water level 30 to 60 cm in recent years (Arshad, 2011).

Jahlar lake is a globally important wetland with an area of 17 hectares located 17 km southwest of Naushehra village and 18 km southwest of Uchalli lake in the Salt Range. It is located at an elevation of 819 meters above mean sea level with a small brackish to saline water. The depth of the lake varies from 0.2 to 6 meters based on rainfall. Runoff from the surrounding hills of the Salt Range is also a source of water of the lake (Arshad, 2011).

Ahmedabad Lake (Kothaka) is a seasonal lake present in the Salt Range, Tehsil Naushehra, 60 km northwest of Khushab. The lake is formed due to heavy rains and water from irrigation. The depth of the lake varies, depending on the rainfall. People are mostly linked with agriculture and armed forces. The crops which are grown in winter are vegetables and in summer wheat (Ali, 2005). In winter many migratory birds are attracted to the site due to the availability of high food.

There is a marked reduction in migratory bird population every year and there was a decrease in the population of avifauna at Uchalli Wetlands Complex (Ali, 2006; Khan and Ali, 2015). The human impact on wetland natural resources increased due to failure to understand the consequences of variation in natural habitats on wetland biodiversity including avifauna (Brown and Aebischer, 2005). The major objectives of this study were to study the diversity, abundance, and threats to avifauna at an important Ramsar site, Uchalli Wetlands Complex as well as Ahmedabad lake which is an important site for migratory birds as per locals and wildlife staff. 

MATERIALS AND METHODS

The present study was carried out at Uchalli Wetlands Complex, which comprises three wetlands, Uchalli (72°0’18.6474”E, 32°32’58.128”N), Khabbaki (72°13’36.516”E, 32°37’ 32.844”N) and Jahlar (72°5’18.5994”E, 32°29’59.784”N). Ahmedabad lake (72°16’19.85”E, 32°37’7.93”N) being an important site for migratory birds, was included in this study (Fig. 1). Data were collected from December 2020 to May 2021 via both direct and indirect methods. 

The direct method (point count) was used to observe the diversity and abundance of avian species on monthly basis with the help of binoculars and identification of species was carried out through a field guide (Grimmett et al., 2008). The point count method was used after selecting multiple points and the observations were recorded half an hour before and two hours after the sunrise while 3:00 pm onward to sunset at each wetland. The indirect method was the interview of local people who were linked with these lakes via agriculture or livestock rearing. 

The probabilities of multiple individuals of species were analyzed by the Simpson index.

Mathematically it can be expressed as D= 1- Σn (n-1) / N(N-1) where n is total number of individuals of a particular species, N is total number of individuals of all species.

Relative abundance of the species is the calculation of the proportion of individuals of the given species to the total number of individuals in a community (Bull, 1964). Relative abundance was calculated by the following formula: R. A= n/ N × 100, where n is number of individuals of a species, N is total number of birds.

The Census index was investigated by dividing the total population of birds by area. The formula of census index is as follows: C.I = N / A, where N is total number of birds, A is total study area.

To know about the diversity of bird species in different habitats, Shannon Weiner Diversity Index was calculated (Hutcheson, 1970). The formula for H’ is as H´= Σ Pi ln (Pi) × -1, where H’ is diversity index, Pi is proportion of species pi relative to the total number of species, LnPi is natural logarithm of proportion.

Species evenness described how many species were evenly distributed. It was calculated by the following formula:

Species Evenness = Shannon Weiner Index / ln of (N)

RESULTS

A total of 27,450 bird individuals belonging to 139 bird species were observed at the selected sites collectively; 133 bird species belonging to 19 orders and 47 families were observed at Uchalli lake with a total count of 18,331 individuals. Most of the birds were observed in the family Anatidae with a count of 9,592 individuals. On account of the seasonal occurrence, 41% of species were year-round resident, 38% of species were winter migrants, 15% species were passage migrants and 5% species were summer breeders and Sarus Crane Grus antigone was the chance occurrence at the concerned site.

At Khabbaki lake, 3,053 birds belonging to 92 species, 35 families and 16 orders were observed. Out of the total 92 species, order Gruiformes had the maximum bird count (1774), followed by order Passeriformes and Anseriformes with 736 and 205 individuals, respectively. Minimum bird count was recorded in order Piciformes with only one species. Among the observed species, 50% were year-round resident, 37% wintering, 8% passage migrant and irregular year-round visitors, and 5% were summer breeders. The top mop abundant species of study area are given in Table I.

 

Table I. Five most abundant species at different study sites.

Species

Relative Abundance

Uchalli Lake

Common coot (Fulica atra)

32.84

Northern shoveler (Anas clypeata)

20.02

Common pochard (Aythya ferina)

17.29

Common teal (Anas crecca)

5.02

Northern pintail (Anas acuta)

4.53

Khabbaki Lake

Common coot (Fulica atra)

57.84

House sparrow (Passer domesticus)

4.16

House crow (Corvus splendens)

4.06

Common myna (Acridotheres tristis)

4.00

Common pochard (Aythya ferina)

1.38

Jahlar Lake

Common coot (Fulica atra)

22.77

Common pochard (Aythya ferina)

12.78

Black-headed gull (Larus ridibundus)

12.53

Northern shoveler (Anas clypeata)

5.60

House crow (Corvus splendens)

3.01

Ahmedabad Lake

Common coot (Fulica atra)

70.01

House crow (Corvus splendens)

2.40

Little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

2.23

Common pochard (Aythya ferina)

2.07

Common myna (Acridotheres tristis)

1.96

 

 

Eighty-eight bird species of 14 orders and 34 families with 2394 individuals were observed at Jahlar Lake. The most abundant family with a bird count of 572 was Anatidae followed by the family Rallidae with a count of 554, while the least count of birds was in the family Laniidae with only one species. Out of the total, 51% were year-round resident, 39% winter migrant, 6% passage migrant and 4% species were summer breeders.

Out of the total 79 bird species at Ahmedabad Lake, maximum individuals belonged to order Gruiformes (2,588), followed by Passeriformes, Anseriformes, and Charadriiformes with 516, 254, and 111 individuals, respectively. Among them 54% species were year-round resident, 33% species winter migrant, 9% passage migrant and 6% species were summer breeders.

The value of various indices such as Shannon wiener, Simpson, and Census along with species evenness are presented in Table II. At Uchalli lake, near threatened species were ferruginous pochard Aythya nyroca, northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus, alexandrine parakeet Psittacula eupatria, and pallid harrier Circus macrourus. Vulnerable species included sarus crane Antigone antigone, southern grey shrike Lanius excubitor, imperial eagle Aquila heliaca, and common pochard Aythia ferina. At Khabbaki and Ahmedabad lakes, common pochard Aythya ferina was vulnerable and steppe eagle Aquila nipalensis was the endangered species, while at Jahlar lake common pochard Aythya ferina was the only vulnerable species (Fig. 2). The trend (increasing, decreasing and stable) of recorded species at concerned sites as per IUCN is given in Figure 3.

Most abundant species were omnivores (40%) followed by carnivores (32%) and insectivores (20%), while herbivores (3%), granivores (2%), frugivores (2%) and nectarivores (1%) were the least in count (Fig. 4).

 

Table II. Population of birds recorded at Uchalli Wetland Complex and Ahmedabad Lake.

Sr. No.

Common name

Scientific name

Uchalli lake

Khabbaki lake

Jahlar lake

Ahmedabad lake

Total

1

Asian koel

Eudynamys scolopacea

2

1

1

2

6

2

Bank myna

Acridotheres ginginianus

29

24

17

32

102

3

Barn swallow

Hirundo rustica

102

28

35

27

192

4

Bay-backed shrike

Lanius vittatus

4

1

0

4

9

5

Black drongo

Dicrurus macrocercus

37

6

6

16

65

6

Black kite

Milvus migrans

7

4

3

11

25

7

Black redstart

Phoenicurus ochruros

8

1

6

3

18

8

Black-headed gull

Larus ridibundus

702

12

300

0

1014

9

Black-necked grebe

Podiceps nigricollis

14

2

2

0

18

10

Black-rumped flameback

Dinopium benghalense

1

1

1

0

3

11

Black-shouldered kite

Elanus caeruleus

2

0

0

0

2

12

Black-winged stilt

Himantopus himantopus

99

24

24

24

171

13

Blue-cheeked bee-eater

Merops persicus

9

5

4

6

24

14

Blyth’s reed warbler

Acrocephalus dumetorum

8

2

2

6

18

15

Cattle egret

Bubulcus ibis

19

19

8

13

59

16

Common babbler

Turdoides caudatus

14

19

19

19

71

17

Common coot

Fulica atra

6020

1766

545

2570

10901

18

Common greenshank

Tringa nebularia

15

2

7

13

37

19

Common hoopoe

Upupa epops

4

2

4

5

15

20

Common kestrel

Falco tinnunculus

1

0

0

0

1

21

Common myna

Acridotheres tristis

110

124

245

72

551

22

Common pochard

Aythya ferina

3170

42

306

72

3590

23

Common raven

Corvus corax

2

0

0

0

2

24

Common redshank

Tringa totanus

14

0

6

5

25

25

Common sandpiper

Actitis hypoleucos

29

18

21

27

95

26

Common snipe

Gallinago gallinago

5

0

1

0

6

27

Common stonechat

Saxicola torquata

8

2

2

2

14

28

Common wood shrike

Tephrodornis pondicerianus

1

0

0

0

1

29

Crested lark

Galerida cristata

17

7

16

9

49

30

Desert wheatear

Oenanthe deserti

1

0

2

2

5

31

Common chiffchaff

Phylloscopus collybita

2

2

0

0

4

32

Eurasian collared dove

Streptopelia decaocto

37

42

17

12

108

33

Eurasian griffon

Gyps fulvus

0

1

0

0

1

34

Eurasian marsh harrier

Circus aeruginosus

2

1

1

1

5

35

Ferruginous pochard

Aythya nyroca

4

0

0

0

4

36

Graceful prinia

Prinia gracilis

6

0

2

6

14

37

Great crested grebe

Podiceps cristatus

6

4

0

0

10

38

Greater coucal

Centropus sinensis

2

1

1

1

5

39

Greater flamingo

Phoenicopterus ruber

22

0

0

0

22

Table continued on next page................

Sr. No.

Common name

Scientific name

Uchalli lake

Khabbaki lake

Jahlar lake

Ahmedabad lake

Total

40

Greater painted-snipe

Rostratula benghalensis

1

0

0

0

1

41

Green bee-eater

Merops orientalis

9

4

6

9

28

42

Green sandpiper

Tringa ochropus

17

8

16

15

56

43

Grey heron

Ardea cinerea

12

0

0

0

12

44

House crow

Corvus splendens

203

124

72

88

487

45

House sparrow

Passer domesticus

74

127

56

56

313

46

Imperial eagle

Aquila heliaca

1

0

0

0

1

47

Indian pond heron

Ardeola grayii

17

12

3

4

36

48

Indian robin

Saxicoloides fulicata

4

6

3

1

14

49

Indian roller

Coracias benghalensis

1

2

0

1

4

50

Intermediate egret

Mesophoyx intermedia

22

7

0

6

35

51

Jungle babbler

Turdoides striatus

34

22

18

15

89

52

Kentish plover

Charadrius alexandrinus

9

0

0

0

9

53

Laughing dove

Streptopelia senegalensis

14

4

7

11

36

54

Lesser whitethroat

Sylvia curruca

2

0

1

0

3

55

Little egret

Egretta garzetta

34

32

6

17

89

56

Little grebe

Tachybaptus ruficollis

302

31

67

72

472

57

Little ringed plover

Charadrius dubius

17

1

2

3

23

58

Little stint

Calidris minuta

12

0

0

7

19

59

Long-legged buzzard

Buteo rufinus

1

0

0

0

1

60

Long-tailed shrike

Lanius schach

2

2

1

4

9

61

Oriental skylark

Alauda gulgula

12

1

1

1

15

62

Pied bushchat

Saxicola caprata

17

26

7

17

67

63

Plain martin

Riparia paludicola

34

34

14

34

116

64

Plain prinia

Prinia inornata

14

7

9

6

36

65

Purple heron

Ardea purpurea

1

0

0

0

1

66

Red-crested pochard

Netta rufina

212

0

0

0

212

67

Red-vented bulbul

Pycnonotus cafer

52

21

18

24

115

68

Red-wattled lapwing

Vanellus indicus

44

11

8

11

74

69

Rock pigeon

Columba livia

3

2

2

0

7

70

Rose-ringed parakeet

Psittacula krameri

2

0

0

0

2

71

Rufous treepie

Dendrocitta vagabunda

9

7

4

11

31

72

Southern grey shrike

Lanius meridionalis

1

0

0

0

1

73

Striated babbler

Turdoides earlei

0

11

14

0

25

74

Temminck’s stint

Calidris temminckii

8

4

4

5

21

75

Tufted duck

Aythya fuligula

93

0

42

0

135

76

Variable wheatear

Oenanthe picata

2

1

2

1

6

77

Water pipit

Anthus spinoletta

16

5

4

2

27

78

White wagtail

Motacilla alba

22

9

17

3

51

79

White-tailed lapwing

Vanellus leucurus

1

1

1

0

3

80

White-throated kingfisher

Halcyon smyrnensis

5

3

5

2

15

Table continued on next page................

Sr. No.

Common name

Scientific name

Uchalli lake

Khabbaki lake

Jahlar lake

Ahmedabad lake

Total

81

Wood sandpiper

Tringa glareola

8

0

5

0

13

82

Yellow wagtail

Motacilla flava

9

6

6

2

23

83

Yellow-eyed babbler

Chrysomma sinense

11

7

6

0

24

84

Common teal

Anas crecca

920

34

62

54

1070

85

Gadwall

Anas strepera

290

31

24

28

373

86

Garganey

Anas querquedula

145

4

0

16

165

87

Grey francolin

Francolinus pondicerianus

2

0

4

0

6

88

Mallard

Anas platyrhynchos

202

32

4

12

250

89

Northern pintail

Anas acuta

830

18

0

7

855

90

Northern shoveler

Anas clypeata

3670

42

134

65

3911

91

Tawny pipit

Anthus campestris

12

6

2

1

21

92

White-eyed buzzard

Butastur teesa

1

0

0

0

1

93

Baya weaver

Ploceus philippinus

13

0

3

0

16

94

Black redstart

Phoenicurus ochruros

6

6

4

3

19

95

Bluethroat

Luscinia svecica

2

1

1

1

5

96

Greenish warbler

Phylloscopus subviridis

1

0

1

0

2

97

Common merganser

Mergus merganser

4

2

0

0

6

98

Common moorhen

Gallinula chloropus

0

8

9

18

35

99

Common shelduck

Tadorna tadorna

22

0

0

0

22

100

Eurasian golden oriole

Oriolus oriolus

1

0

0

0

1

101

Eurasian wigeon

Anas penelope

24

0

0

0

24

102

Grey wagtail

Motacilla cinerea

17

3

7

1

28

103

House swift

Apus affinis

16

28

18

16

78

104

Pied kingfisher

Ceryle rudis

2

1

0

0

3

105

Red collared dove

Streptopelia tranquebarica

8

6

0

7

21

106

Rufous-fronted prinia

Prinia buchanani

6

0

0

0

6

107

Sarus crane

Grus antigone

12

0

0

0

12

108

Shikra

Accipiter badius

2

1

2

1

6

109

Steppe eagle

Aquila nipalensis

0

2

0

2

4

110

Striated prinia

Prinia criniger

6

9

17

4

36

111

White browed wagtail

Motacilla maderaspatensis

14

15

6

3

38

112

Demoiselle crane

Grus vigro

14

0

0

0

14

113

Northern lapwing

Vanellus vanellus

1

0

0

0

1

114

Brown rock-chat

Cercomela fusca

8

8

12

9

37

115

Purple sunbird

Nectarinia asiatica

21

25

19

14

79

116

Citrine wagtail

Motacilla citreola

15

3

8

2

28

117

Great egret

Casmerodius albus

24

8

0

0

32

118

Little cormorant

Phalacrocorax niger

8

8

0

0

16

119

Great cormorant

Phalacrocorax carbo

8

4

0

0

12

120

Indian cormorant

Phalacrocorax fuscicollis

2

2

0

0

4

121

Pallas's gull

Larus cachinnans

42

8

0

0

50

Table continued on next page................

Sr. No.

Common name

Scientific name

Uchalli lake

Khabbaki lake

Jahlar lake

Ahmedabad lake

Total

122

Grey plover

Pluvialis squatarola

6

0

0

1

7

123

White eared bulbul

Pycnonotus leucotis

4

24

0

8

36

124

Rufous backed redstart

Phoenicurus erythronota

3

0

2

0

5

125

Glossy ibis

Plegadis falcinellus

18

0

0

0

18

126

Ruff

Philomachus pugnax

1

0

0

0

1

127

Spotted owlet

Athene brama

0

6

0

1

7

128

Yellow crowned woodpecker

Piciformes piciformes

1

1

1

0

3

129

Common starling

Sturnus vulgaris

4

4

8

6

22

130

Chukar

Alectoris chukar

1

0

1

0

2

131

Alexandrine parakeet

Psittacula eupatria

6

0

0

0

6

132

Red necked phalarope

Phalaropus lobatus

1

0

0

0

1

133

Eurasian sparrowhawk

Accipiter nisus

1

0

0

0

1

134

Blue rock thrush

Monticola solitarius

2

0

2

0

4

135

Paddyfield pipit

Anthus rufulus

5

2

7

3

17

136

Common quail

Coturnix coturnix

2

0

4

0

6

137

Smew

Mergellus albellus

6

0

0

0

6

138

Pallid harrier

Circus macrourus

1

0

0

0

1

139

Grey bushchat

Saxicola ferrea

0

0

1

0

1

Species richness

133

92

88

79

139

Total Number of Individuals

18,332

3053

2394

3671

27,450

Census index

19.44

10.79

140.82

61.18

-

Simpson index

0.82

0.66

0.9

0.51

Shannon weiner index

2.32

2.26

2.99

1.72

Species evenness

0.24

0.28

0.38

0.21

-

 

 

Moreover, the trend line was developed using the previously available data and an increase in species richness was observed (Fig. 5). Furthermore, in the overall study area, illegal hunting was the major threat to these species. There were also other threats including agriculture use of wetlands, excessive fishing, use of insecticides and pesticides in fields across the wetlands, and forest fires which were observed during April encompassing an area of 2 to 3 kilometers around Uchalli lake.

 

 

 

Source: Ali and Akhtar, 2005 (Study duration 2003), Arshad, 2011 (Study duration 2007), Ali et al., 2011 (Study duration 2011), Current Study 2021.

DISCUSSION

Migratory birds start their migration in winter and most of them come to wetlands of Pakistan and India from Siberia and Europe due to snow cover and unavailability of food. Birds prefer migration when the winds are favorable and less risk of predation such as at dusk (Ali, 2005). Most of the fascinating and diverse winter visitors of Pakistan that make up the 85 percent population of aquatic avifauna are waders and ducks. Wetlands are the protective sites that provide, food, defense, nesting, and breeding sites to aquatic birds (Cumming et al., 2012). Food abundance is a crucial factor that influences the winter abundance and distribution of migratory birds including shorebirds (Hockey et al., 1992).

Out of 133 species observed at Uchalli lake, the highest species abundance was observed in order Anseriformes with 9592 individuals. Ashraf et al. (2019) recorded 36 bird species of 13,342 individuals from October 2015 to September 2016 in the same area. Among them, 56% were resident, while 39% were winter visitors and 5% summer breeders. Arshad et al. (2014) observed bird species for two consecutively years in 2010 and 2011 and found 1139 individuals belonging to eleven bird species and 18,606 individuals belonging to 34 bird species, respectively. Arshad (2011) recorded 40 bird species of 12 orders and 31 families in Aaugust 2007 in which 65% of birds were resident. Ali and Akhtar (2005) found 103 bird species of 1591 individuals at Uchalli lake from January to February 2003. 

Out of the total 92 bird species at Khabbaki lake, order Gruiformes was associated with the most bird count (1774 individuals) followed by order Passeriformes and Anseriformes 736 and 205 bird count respectively. Arshad (2011) observed 39 species of 11 orders and 28 families at Khabbaki lake in which 80% of birds were resident. Ali et al. (2011) found 37 birds species of 428 individuals at Khabbaki lake in the year 2006. Ali and Akhtar (2005)recorded 91 bird species of 1246 individuals at Khabbaki lake in 2003.

Among 88 bird species at Jahlar lake, order Passeriformes represented the most bird count (698). Arshad (2011) found 41 birds species of 12 orders and 30 families at Jahlar lake in August 2007, in which 80% of species were resident. Ali and Akhtar (2005) observed 53 species of 370 individuals at Jahlar lake in the year 2003. Ali et al. (2011) found 47 species of 2275 individuals at Jahlar lake in 2006.

One of the objectives of the study was also to point out the threats to wetlands under study. As a result of irrigation and drainage projects, many natural wetlands have disappeared. The major threats to the bird species include illegal hunting, fishing, use of pesticides and insecticides.

CONCLUSION

Results of the present study revealed that there was an increase in the number of birds at Uchalli Wetlands Complex as compared to previous studies of the sites. Although there were common threats to all water birds, such as illegal hunting and fishing which needs to be checked and monitored. Furthermore, due to heavy rainfall, there was an abundance of water and food resources at the study sites. Keeping in view these results it can also be concluded that the main threat faced by wetland birds is not lack of resources but human threats of hunting, poaching and hurdles in migration.

Statement of conflict of interest

The authors have declared no conflict of interest.

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Pakistan Journal of Zoology

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Pakistan J. Zool., Vol. 56, Iss. 3, pp. 1001-1500

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