ZSI zooms into faunal diversity of Pallikaranai
ZSI zooms into faunal diversity of Pallikaranai
CHENNAI: With plans to create snapshots of the faunal elements of Pallikaranai, the Zoological Survey of India(ZSI), Southern Regi..

CHENNAI: With plans to create snapshots of the faunal elements of Pallikaranai, the Zoological Survey of India(ZSI), Southern Regional Centre, here is all set to roll out its first publication on the rich fauna thriving in the fragile wetland ecosystem. According to Scientist Dr K Rema Devi, Officer in Charge of ZSI here, data collected from an ongoing field survey for identification of local species of Pallikaranai will be used for the ZSI’s first comprehensive report on the biodiversity hotspot.Asked about the ZSI’s new found interest in Pallikaranai, she said, “There is growing importance on the shrinkage of the marshland and there is also an absence of a comprehensive report on the fauna there. Our compilation will help in creating awareness of the fauna of the wetland ecosystem,” she said.As part of this study that began in November 2010; scientists have already completed four field surveys. “The focus is on invertebrate groups that have not been studied in earlier publications,” she said.The identification of invertebrate groups, including plankton, protozoa and insect groups that thrive in the marsh land, will help in understanding their ecological impact on higher fauna such as birds that are hosted by the wetlands, she said. The myriad species of birds, butterflies, molluscans and insect groups of Pallikaranai are also being recorded as photographs, she added.While published scientific data will be used for cross-referencing, the publication of ZSI will not be a repetition of reported studies, she emphasised.Speaking to the Express, Director of ZSI, K.Venkataraman, said that the study will be holistic as it will take into account seasonal factors that affect the distribution of fauna. Since faunal distribution is pronounced after rainy season, the ZSI will also plan for a survey in the month of December or January, he said.According to Dr.Jayashree Thilak, Scientist in ZSI, who is researching on zooplanktons, a microbial water borne group, the on-going survey, which uses the American Public Health Association (APHA) method for the study, identified a large population of Gambusia Affinis, a non-native fish species, near the Shollinganallur check post.In addition, Oreochromis Mossambicus, another type of non-native species has also been found distributed to a large extent in the marshland, she said. Species such as Gambusia that has been spotted during the survey are a major threat to biodiversity as they can cause extinction of the indigenous species of Pallikaranai by preying on them, said Jayashree.According to the Global Invasive Alien Species Database, Gambusia Affinis is ranked 84 in the list of hundred worst invasive species.

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