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Avifaunal Assemblages of Jhanjimuk-Kokilamukh IBA Complex of Jorhat Assam India-A Potential Ramsar Site of Assam

Nilutpal Mahanta , Prasanta Kumar Saikia, Malabika Kakati Saikia
Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences. 2019, 7(3), 101-109. DOI: 10.12691/aees-7-3-4
Received June 28, 2019; Revised August 12, 2019; Accepted August 20, 2019

Abstract

Wetlands outside protected area are under tremendous anthropogenic pressure such as agriculture expansion, alteration of wetlands and grasslands to farm lands etc. The present study was carried out to understand the avian species composition of Jhanjimukh-Kokilamukh Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) of Jorhat District, Assam, India. The study was carried out from February, 2016 to April, 2018, which revealed the presence of 205 species of birds belonging to 62 families and 142 genera. Out of 205 avian species, 70 species were migratory and 136 were residential. A total of 26 globally (IUCN) threatened birds species were recorded in the study area. The study also recorded range extensions of two wader species in Northeast India. The IBA site also act as refueling site for many regular and passage migrants as it is situated in a strategic location of the major migratory routes of East-Asia Flyways. Thus, it is an urgent need to protect the IBA site not only for the conservation of resident birds but also for the waterbirds of entire East-Asian Flyways.

1. Introduction

Wetlands regulate ecological processes that contribute to a healthy environment for mankind 1. They are widely recognized as fragile ecosystems with diverse attributes including distinct avifauna 2. In recent times, due to anthropogenic pressure, these wetlands are getting affected adversely. It has been estimated that, since 1900, approximately 50% of inland sites have been lost 3. The principal cause of this loss has been the conversion of wetlands to agro-ecosystems, farm land, residential complex, industrial establishments, and urban expansion etc. a process that is continuing and accelerating in many regions, particularly Asia, Africa and the Neo-tropics 3. Birdlife International has documented over 12000 Important Birds and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) around the world to identify places of international significance for the conservation of birds and other biodiversity components (www.birdlife.org). Out of 467 IBA sites in India, a total of 46 IBAs have been recognized by Birdlife International in the state of Assam within India 4. The Jhanjimukh-Kokilamukh IBA (site code: IN-389) site is an important complex of seven major wetlands such as Nahotiya beel, Kokilamukh beel, Fakua Dowl beel, Bor Sorola beel, Potia Sorola beel, Da-pathar beel and Missamari beel.

1.1. Study Sites

The study area of Jhanjimukh-Kokilamukh IBA site complex is located on the South bank of river Brahmaputra in the northern parts of Jorhat district of Assam (see Figure 1). It covers an area of about 25km2 (IBA factsheet; 5) the IBA ranges from Jhanjimuk, confluence zone of river Jhanji (Coordinates: 26°53'43.19"N - 94°21'11.25"E) on the East to Nahotiya (26°49'8.02"N 94° 8'56.75"E) on the west. Jhanjimukh-Kokilamukh IBA is mostly composed of Wetlands, Grasslands, Shrublands and scattered woodlands. The area supports seven major wetlands, namely: Nahotiya beel, Kokilamukh beel, Fakua Dowl beel, Bor Sorola beel, Potia Sorola beel, Da-pathar beel and Missamari beel. All these wetlands are separated from each other either by the artificial embankments (locally called as Mathauri for protection from Flood water) or gravel roads for transportation and human settlements etc. The study area was located on a 23 kilometers stretch of the embankment of river Brahmaputra. Nimati-Ghat is an important location in the study area, which is the commercial harbor of water transport to the Majuli, one of the world′s largest human inhabited river islands.

The climate of the study area is experienced by mesothermal wet climate. January is the coldest month with temperature of 6.1°C. July and August are the warmest period with an average monthly temperature of 29°C. The average relative humidity in a year is 78.7%. The average annual rainfall computed for ten years from 1998 to 2007 was 1,867.08mm 6.

1.2. Survey and Data Collection

The study was carried out for a period of two years starting from February 2016 through April 2018. Field surveys were carried out from 06:00 hrs. to 11:00 hrs. in the morning and 15:00 hrs. to 16:00 hrs. in the afternoon. Two sampling methodologies were applied for data collection, that were such as line transect and point transects 7. Altogether 12 line transects of 500m in lengths were laid along the embankments and spars of the wetlands for surveys and data collections in Nahotiya, Kokilamukh, Fakua Dowl and Bor-Sorola wetlands . Total of 22 random points of 100m radius were also established randomly to survey and data collections in Potiya-Sorola, Da-Pathar, and Missamari wetlands. To avoid double count, the points were selected minimum of 200m apart from each other in entire study area. Additional (opportunistic observations) data were also added to the list whenever any birds were sighted outside the regular transects, so that no such birds species data were missed in any occasions during the entire survey periods. In some strategic locations of the habitat, hides were also erected using naturally dried water hyacinths exists nearby for better observations and photograph the birds for authentication of observations. Surveys were conducted using a pair of binoculars (Zeiss Terra ED 8x32, Solognac 10x42), Digital Camera (Canon SX60, Nikon Coolpix, P510), Garmin GPS (etrax 30) and a sound recorder (Zoom H6 handheld recorder). Each species sighted were photographed for easy reference and documentation. Photographs and videos were obtained to justify the species type for those were difficult to identify in the field. Birds were identified as per the taxonomic keys of Ali and Ripley 8 and Grimmett et al. 9. The IUCN threatened species of birds were categorized in the checklist as per the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, Version 3.1 10. Resident and Migratory status of birds were categorized as per the information given by Grimmett et al. 9, Choudhury 11 and Saikia and Saikia (2010) 12 and Saikia and Bhattacharjee, (1993) 13.

2. Results

During survey period, a total of 205 species of birds belonging to 142 genera, 62 families and 18 orders were recorded from the study area (see Table 1). Majority of bird species were recorded from the order Passeriformes with 59 species, followed by Charadriiformes 34 species, Anseriformes 21 species, Accipitriformes 19 species, Pelecaniformes 15 species, Gruiformes nine species, Coraciiformes seven species, Piciformes, Ciconiiformes and Columbiformes with six species each, Cuculiformes and Strigiformes both supported five species, Suliformes and Pelicaniformes with four species, Falconiformes, Podicipediformes and Psittaciformes with two species, Bucerotiformes and Galliformes both supported with one species each in the study area(see Figure 2).

Of the total 205 bird species recorded in the study area, 69 were migratory and 136 were residential bird species. There were altogether 26 globally (IUCN) threatened species of birds recorded in the study area, that includes two critically endangered species such as Slender-billed vulture-Gyps tenuirostris and White-rumped vulture-Gyps bengalensis, two endangered species, such as Greater Adjutant Stork-Leptoptilos dubius and Yellow-breasted bunting- Emberiza aureola, seven vulnerable species, such as Common Pochard-Aythya ferina, Lesser Adjutant Stork-Leptoptilos javanicus, Woolly-necked Stork-Ciconia episcopus, Swamp francolin-Francolinus gularis, Greater spotted Eagle-Clanga clanga, Pallas's Fish Eagle- Haliaeetus leucoryphus, Marsh Babbler-Pellorneum palustre and 14 near threatened species, Ferruginous duck-Aythya nyroca, Falcated Duck-Mareca falcate, Spot billed Pelican-Pelecanus philippensis, Black headed Ibis-Threskiornis melanocephalus, Curlew Sandpiper-Calidris ferruginea Black necked stork-Ephippiorynchus asiaticus, Oriental darter-Anhinga melanogaster, Northern lapwing-Vanellus vanellus, River lapwing-Vanellus duvaucelii, Black tailed Godwit-Limosa melanuroides, Eurasian Curlew-Numenius arquata, Himalayan Griffon vulture-Gyps himalayensis, Grey headed fish eagle-Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus, Red necked falcon-Falco chicquera and Alexandrine parakeet-Psittacula eupatria. Study also revealed the presence of 26 raptor species belonging to four orders viz., Accipitriformes, Pandionidae, Falconiformes, Strigiformes and five families such as Accipitridae, Pandionidae, Falconidae, Strigidae and Tytonidae. Of the total 26 species, nine species were migratory and 17 were residential in nature. Among all the Raptors, seven species were globally threatened.

The Study also reported range extension two wader species, Long-billed dowitcher-Limnodromus scolopaceus (Say, 1823) and Curlew Sandpiper-Calidris ferruginea (Pontoppidan 1763) in North East India.

  • Table 1. Comprehensive lists of avian fauna recorded in the Jhajimukh-Kokilamukh IBA sites during February, 2016 to April 2018 (LC: Least Concern; NT: Near Threatened; VU: Vulnerable; EN: Endangered; CR: Critically Endangered; M: Migratory; R: Resident)

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3. Discussion

Study opined that, the existence of 205 avian fauna in an unprotected 25 km2 area in Jhanjimukh-Kokilamukh IBA site has indicated the high potentiality of avian fauna and as well as wetland habitat complex in eastern Assam. In other occasions, the Deepor beel wildlife sanctuary and Ramsar site of Assam has reported only 232 avian fauna 14. From the present study, it could also be suggested that, the Jhanjimukh-Kokilamukh IBA site be a second potential Ramsar site of Assam after Depor beel Ramsar Site. The present study site supports various types of avifaunal habitat such as marshy land, shore line habitat, muddy habitat aquatic mat, free floating habitat, high lands, scattered forest vegetation and reeds bed etc. that is also another reason why diversified avian fauna harbored in the study area. The variation in habitat types is one of the probable reasons behind holding a diversified avifauna. Raptors constitute 13% of the species composition in the study area, which is a good indicator of wetland habitat and IBA sites. According to Therrien et al. 15, raptors are sensitive bio-indicators of ecosystem changes; variations in the numbers of individual species also may reflect changes in the health of the environment. Again, the importance of the presently studied wetland complexes also highlighted by the presence of 14% globally threatened species (28 species) amongst all the species encountered during present study.

The Study also reported range extension two wader species, Long-billed dowitcher-Limnodromus scolopaceus (Say, 1823) and Curlew Sandpiper-Calidris ferruginea (Pontoppidan 1763) in North East India 16. There are very few recorded reports of L scolopaceus in India. C ferruginea is a globally threatened (IUCN near threatened) coastal wader species. This is the first record of these two waders from North Eastern India. This observation also expands our curiosity to understand more about the unprotected wetlands of Jhanjimukh-Kokilamukh IBA.

4. Conclusion

The recent existence of anthropogenic threats like extensive agriculture, habitat alterations and hunting may cause loss of biodiversity in near future. Such types of threats were also suggested by the earlier studies on wetland birds in Brahmaputra valley of Assam 13. Thus, further studies also need to be initiated with major focus on the threats facing by the IBA site. The proposed Ramsar site Jhanjimukh-Kokilamukh IBA is situated in a strategic location of the major migratory routes of East-Asia Flyways where most of the regular and passage migrants stop over for refueling. So, it is an urgent need to protect the IBA site not only for the conservation of resident birds but also for the water-birds of entire East-Asian Flyways.

Acknowledgements

The authors are thankful to the Department of Zoology, Gauhati University for providing the opportunity to conduct research on the important IBA Sites of Assam. We are thankful to Dr. Jatin Kalita (former Head, Department of Zoology, Gauhati University). We are thankful to DST (Department of Science and Technology), Government of India for providing DST-INSPIRE fellowship to the first author, which was a helping hand in the research. The Authors are also thankful to UGC, DST and NMHS for providing funds for infrastructure development and other necessary facilities to the Department of Zoology to create advance teaching and research platform.

References

[1]  Kirsten, S., and L. Brander. The Economic Values of the World’s Wetlands. Living Waters, 2004.
In article      
 
[2]  Burger, J. Habitat selection in temperate marsh-nesting birds. Habitat selection in birds, 253, 281. 1985.
In article      
 
[3]  O'Connell, M. Threats to waterbirds and wetlands: implications for conservation, inventory and research. Wildfowl, 51(51), 1-16. 2000.
In article      
 
[4]  Chan, S. Important bird areas in Asia: key sites for conservation. BirdLife International. 2004.
In article      
 
[5]  www.datazone.birdlife.org/site/factsheet/jhanjimukh--kokilamukh-iba-india.
In article      
 
[6]  Central Ground Water Board. Ground Water Information Booklet, Jorhat District, Assam. North Eastern Region, Ministry of Water Resources, Guwahati. 2013.
In article      
 
[7]  Bibby, Colin J., Neil D. Burgess, David A. Hill, and Simon Mustoe. Bird census techniques. Elsevier, 2000.
In article      
 
[8]  Ali, Salim, and Sidney Dillon Ripley. Handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan: together with those of Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Ceylon. Vol. 1. Oxford University Press, 1968.
In article      
 
[9]  Grimmett, Richard, Carol Inskipp, and Tim Inskipp. Birds of the Indian Subcontinent: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and the Maldives. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013.
In article      
 
[10]  www.iucnredlist.org.
In article      
 
[11]  Saikia, P. K., & Saikia, M. K. Diversity of bird fauna in NE India. Journal of Assam Science Society, 41(2), 379-396. 2000.
In article      
 
[12]  Choudhury, A. The birds of Assam. Gibbon Books & World Wide Fund for Nature-India, North-East Regional Office. 2000.
In article      
 
[13]  Saikia, P., and P. C. Bhattacharjee. Status, diversity and decline of waterbirds in Brahmputra valley, Assam, India. Bird Conservation, Strategies for the Nineties and Beyond. Ornithological Society of India, Bangalore. 20-27. 1993.
In article      
 
[14]  Saikia, P. K. Qualitative and quantitative study of lower and higher organisms and their functional role in the Deepor Beel ecosystem. North Eastern Space Applications Centre (NESAC), Department of Space, Government of India, Umium, Meghalaya, Shillong, 97pp. 2005.
In article      
 
[15]  Therrien, J. F., Goodrich, L. J., Barber, D. R., & Bildstein, K. L. 2012. 822501. A long-term database on raptor migration at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, northeastern United States: Ecological Archives E093-174. Ecology, 93(8), 1979-1979.
In article      View Article
 
[16]  Mahanta, N., Saikia, P. K., Mahananda, P., Das, S., & Saikia, R. First record of Limnodromus scolopaceus (Say, 1823) and Calidris ferruginea (Pontoppidan 1763) from North East India. 2018.
In article      
 

Published with license by Science and Education Publishing, Copyright © 2019 Nilutpal Mahanta, Prasanta Kumar Saikia and Malabika Kakati Saikia

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Cite this article:

Normal Style
Nilutpal Mahanta, Prasanta Kumar Saikia, Malabika Kakati Saikia. Avifaunal Assemblages of Jhanjimuk-Kokilamukh IBA Complex of Jorhat Assam India-A Potential Ramsar Site of Assam. Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Vol. 7, No. 3, 2019, pp 101-109. http://pubs.sciepub.com/aees/7/3/4
MLA Style
Mahanta, Nilutpal, Prasanta Kumar Saikia, and Malabika Kakati Saikia. "Avifaunal Assemblages of Jhanjimuk-Kokilamukh IBA Complex of Jorhat Assam India-A Potential Ramsar Site of Assam." Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences 7.3 (2019): 101-109.
APA Style
Mahanta, N. , Saikia, P. K. , & Saikia, M. K. (2019). Avifaunal Assemblages of Jhanjimuk-Kokilamukh IBA Complex of Jorhat Assam India-A Potential Ramsar Site of Assam. Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 7(3), 101-109.
Chicago Style
Mahanta, Nilutpal, Prasanta Kumar Saikia, and Malabika Kakati Saikia. "Avifaunal Assemblages of Jhanjimuk-Kokilamukh IBA Complex of Jorhat Assam India-A Potential Ramsar Site of Assam." Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences 7, no. 3 (2019): 101-109.
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  • Table 1. Comprehensive lists of avian fauna recorded in the Jhajimukh-Kokilamukh IBA sites during February, 2016 to April 2018 (LC: Least Concern; NT: Near Threatened; VU: Vulnerable; EN: Endangered; CR: Critically Endangered; M: Migratory; R: Resident)
[1]  Kirsten, S., and L. Brander. The Economic Values of the World’s Wetlands. Living Waters, 2004.
In article      
 
[2]  Burger, J. Habitat selection in temperate marsh-nesting birds. Habitat selection in birds, 253, 281. 1985.
In article      
 
[3]  O'Connell, M. Threats to waterbirds and wetlands: implications for conservation, inventory and research. Wildfowl, 51(51), 1-16. 2000.
In article      
 
[4]  Chan, S. Important bird areas in Asia: key sites for conservation. BirdLife International. 2004.
In article      
 
[5]  www.datazone.birdlife.org/site/factsheet/jhanjimukh--kokilamukh-iba-india.
In article      
 
[6]  Central Ground Water Board. Ground Water Information Booklet, Jorhat District, Assam. North Eastern Region, Ministry of Water Resources, Guwahati. 2013.
In article      
 
[7]  Bibby, Colin J., Neil D. Burgess, David A. Hill, and Simon Mustoe. Bird census techniques. Elsevier, 2000.
In article      
 
[8]  Ali, Salim, and Sidney Dillon Ripley. Handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan: together with those of Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Ceylon. Vol. 1. Oxford University Press, 1968.
In article      
 
[9]  Grimmett, Richard, Carol Inskipp, and Tim Inskipp. Birds of the Indian Subcontinent: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and the Maldives. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013.
In article      
 
[10]  www.iucnredlist.org.
In article      
 
[11]  Saikia, P. K., & Saikia, M. K. Diversity of bird fauna in NE India. Journal of Assam Science Society, 41(2), 379-396. 2000.
In article      
 
[12]  Choudhury, A. The birds of Assam. Gibbon Books & World Wide Fund for Nature-India, North-East Regional Office. 2000.
In article      
 
[13]  Saikia, P., and P. C. Bhattacharjee. Status, diversity and decline of waterbirds in Brahmputra valley, Assam, India. Bird Conservation, Strategies for the Nineties and Beyond. Ornithological Society of India, Bangalore. 20-27. 1993.
In article      
 
[14]  Saikia, P. K. Qualitative and quantitative study of lower and higher organisms and their functional role in the Deepor Beel ecosystem. North Eastern Space Applications Centre (NESAC), Department of Space, Government of India, Umium, Meghalaya, Shillong, 97pp. 2005.
In article      
 
[15]  Therrien, J. F., Goodrich, L. J., Barber, D. R., & Bildstein, K. L. 2012. 822501. A long-term database on raptor migration at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, northeastern United States: Ecological Archives E093-174. Ecology, 93(8), 1979-1979.
In article      View Article
 
[16]  Mahanta, N., Saikia, P. K., Mahananda, P., Das, S., & Saikia, R. First record of Limnodromus scolopaceus (Say, 1823) and Calidris ferruginea (Pontoppidan 1763) from North East India. 2018.
In article