ENVIS Centre on Wetland Ecosystems including Inland Wetlands
   Hosted by Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History(SACON), Coimbatore
   Sponsored by Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Govt. of India
Research Articles on Wetlands

SNo Title Published Year Name of the Author Source Abstract Keywords
1 Saltwater intrusion history shapes the response of bacterial communities upon rehydration 2015 Tiffanie M. Nelson et al., Science of the Total Environment 502 (2015) 143–148
Saltwater intrusion (SWI) can result in the loss of dominant vegetation from freshwater habitats. In northern Australia, sea level is predicted to rise 17–50 cm by 2030–2070. This will exacerbate the impact of SWI, threatening Ramsar-listed habitats. Soil bacteria in these habitats play a significant role in biogeochemical cycling, regulating availability of essential nutrients such as nitrogen to vegetation. However, there is limited understanding as to how SWI will impact these soil bacteria. Floodplain soil samples were collected from the South Alligator River floodplain in Northern Australia from sites with contrasting histories of SWI. A SWI event was simulated over 7 days with treatments of saltwater and freshwater. Bacterial community composition before and after treatment were measured using next generation sequencing of bacterial DNA. Sites with no history of SWI showed no significant changes in community taxonomic composition following treatments, suggesting the community at these sites have broad functional capacity which may be due to their historic conditioning over many years. Sites with a history of SWI showed a significant response to both treatments. Following saltwater treatment, there was an increase in sulfate-reducing bacteria, which are known to have an impact on carbon and nitrogen cycling.Wesuggest that the impact ofSWI causes a shift in the soil bacteriawhich alters the community to one which is more specialised, with implications for the cycling of essential elements and nutrients.
Floodplain Tropical Soil Microbes Biogeochemical cycling Salinity
2 Use of hydrodynamic models for the management of the Danube Delta wetlands: The case study of Sontea-Fortuna ecosystem 2015 Ioana Popescu et al., Environmental Science & Policy 46 (2015) 48 – 56
Due to its high biodiversity the Danube Delta, in Romania, is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Natural Site and it is listed as a RAMSAR wetland. The Danube River variable discharges have a great impact on the habitats and the overall ecological status of the delta. One of its most vulnerable parts, from both hydrodynamic and morphological point of view is the Sontea-Fortuna wetland located in the upstream of the Danube Delta. Sontea-Fortuna wetland is susceptible to both floods and droughts. On a long term, decision makers in the area need to know which measures to implement and how these will impact/improve the environment. This article presents how a 3D hydrodynamic model can be used as support for making sound decisions regarding the management of deltaic ecosystems. In particular, the methodology is applied on the Sontea-Fortuna wetland. The case study is part of a wider research in the area, which was developed within the EnviroGRIDS EU FP7 research project. EnviroGRIDS aimed at building capacity for scientists, decision-makers and the general public in the Black Sea Catchment, through collection and sharing of environmental data and models at the basin scale.
Danube Delta Hydrodynamic modelling Decision making Delft3D EnviroGRIDS Wetlands
3 A legal licence for an ecological disaster: the inadequacies of the 1973 Helmand/Hirmand water treaty for sustainable transboundary water resources development 2015 Vincent Thomas et al., International Journal of Water Resources Development, 2015
This article questions whether the 1973 Helmand/Hirmand water treaty between Afghanistan and Iran is an appropriate institutional tool for sustainable water resources management in the context of transboundary water resources development. It shows that by failing to fulfil the most basic requisites for integrated water resources management and river basin management, the treaty does not ensure the integrity of the downstream agro-ecological system in the Sistan Delta. As a result, the 1973 treaty may not be the most relevant water regime for helping to balance legitimate development in upstream Afghanistan while also limiting harms to downstream Iran.
IWRM; RBM; transboundary; Iran; Afghanistan; Hirmand; Helmand
4 Quantifying changes in multiple ecosystem services during 1992–2012 in the Sanjiang Plain of China 2015 ZongmingWang et al., Science of the Total Environment 514 (2015) 119–130
Rapid and periodic assessment of the impact of land cover changes on ecosystem services at regional levels is essential to understanding services and sustainability of ecosystems. This study focused on quantifying and assessing changes of multiple ecosystem services in the Sanjiang Plain of China as a result of land cover changes over the period of 1992–2012. This region is important for its large area of natural wetlands and intensive agriculture. The ecosystem services that were assessed for this region included its regulating services (water yield and ecosystem carbon stocks), supporting services (suitable waterbird habitats), and provisioning services (food production), and the approach to the assessment was composed of the surface energy balance algorithms for land (SEBAL), soil survey re-sampling method and an empiricalwaterbird habitat suitability model. This large scale and integrated investigation represents the first systematic evaluation on the status of ecosystem carbon stocks in the Sanjiang Plain in addition to the development of an effective model for analysis ofwaterbird habitat suitabilitywith the use of both remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS). More importantly, the result from this study has confirmed trade-offs between ecosystem services and negative consequences to environment in this region. The trade-offswere typically manifested by increasedwater yield and significantly grown food production, which is in contrast with significant losses in ecosystem carbon stocks (-14%) and suitable waterbird habitats (-23%) mainly due to the conversion of land cover from wetland to farmland. This finding implies that land use planning and policy making for this economically important region should take ecosystem service losses into account in order to preserve its natural ecosystems in the best interest of society.
Ecosystem services change Land cover change Trade-offs Remote sensing Sanjiang Plain of China
5 Socio-economic reason to save an international wetland 2015 Sara Kaffashi et al., Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences, 2015
A contingent valuation study was conducted to investigate the values of Shadegan International Wetland to the non-current users of this ecosystem. Structural equation modelling (SEM) was employed to model the effect of respondents attitudinal and sociodemographic characteristics on their willingness to pay (WTP). Results showed that respondents’ concerns on wetland management, income and education had direct effect on their WTP. Results of non-parametric and binary logit models to estimate WTP showed that respondents were willing to donate US$2.75 and US$3.18 per household per month, respectively. Simulation of results for future scenarios showed that only if income increment would be more than price increase, the market share of better conservation scenarios of wetland will increase. Estimated benefit was compared with opportunity cost of the wetland for other land uses. The results concluded that regardless of enormous benefits of wetland in limitless time, the current benefit of preservation wetland is economically valuable.
contingent valuation method; structural equation modelling; binary logit model; non-market goods; opportunity cost
6 The governance of wetland ecosystems and the promotion of transboundary water cooperation – opportunities presented by the Ramsar Convention 2015 Jing Lee Water International, 2015 Vol. 40, No. 1, 33–47
Based on a consideration of the interrelationships between cooperation, institutions and governance, this article explores the governance of transboundary wetlands, or wetlands within transboundary basins, and the potential role of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention) in the promotion of transboundary water cooperation.
governance; wetland ecosystem; transboundary water cooperation; Ramsar Convention; international law
7 Ecological change in fragile floodplain wetland ecosystems, natural vshuman influence: The Macquarie Marshes of eastern Australia 2015 Lili Yuet al., Aquatic Botany 120 (2015) 39–50
Arid and semi-arid floodplain wetlands play important ecological roles and are among the most vul-nerable ecosystems worldwide. However, studies of environmental change from such systems are rare.Sediment cores from the northern Macquarie Marshes, Murray-Darling Basin, provide a high-resolution(decadal-centennial scale) multi-proxy record of the past diversity and ecological successions of a wetlandsystem from semi-arid inland Australia. In Loudens Lagoon on the eastern Marshes, a hiatus separatesthe Late Pleistocene-age sediments (50–27 ka BP) from late Holocene sediments (c. 2.3 ka BP) which arebarren of microfossils until the 13th century AD. Charophytes and emergent vegetation are recorded fromc. 1200 AD and become richer in recent times, with a concomitant increase of dry-tolerant Chenopodi-aceae, indicating variable water cover at the site. The approximately 500-year old record from adjacent‘Bora Lagoon’ indicates that, by comparison, this site was more frequently inundated. The charophytesSphaerochara (=Tolypella sect. Rothia) and Chara australis are only present between the 16th and 17th cen-turies, suggesting a relatively deep wetland which became shallower by the 1940s. Between the 1940sand 1960s, charophytes indicating shallow water are diverse and abundant, with diatoms appearing c.1955 AD. The reduction in charophytes and change in the diatom assemblages indicates increasing turbid-ity and pH after 1965 AD. The increased sedimentation rate and turbidity between the 1940s and 1970sare related to land use change. Our results suggest that livestock grazing, the building of levees/channelsin the Marshes, and river regulation (Burrendong Dam) have contributed to the deterioration of theMarshes.
Charophyte oospores Macrophytes Diatoms Ramsar sites Human impacts Semi-arid environments
8 Wetland assessment, monitoring and management in India using geospatial techniques 2015 J.K. Garg Journal of Environmental Management 148 (2015) 112-123
Satellite remote sensing and GIS have emerged as the most powerful tools for inventorying, monitoring and management of natural resources and environment. In the special context of wetland ecosystems, remotely sensed data from orbital platforms have been extensively used in India for the inventory, monitoring and preparation of action plans for conservation and management. First scientific inventory of wetlands in India was carried out in 1998 by Space Applications Centre (ISRO), Ahmedabad using indigenous IRS (Indian Remote Sensing Satellite) data of 1992e93 timeframe, which stimulated extensive use of geospatial techniques for wetland conservation and management. Subsequently, with advances in GIS, studies were carried out for development of Wetland Information System for a state (West Bengal) and for Loktak lake wetland (a Ramsar site) as a prelude to National Wetland Information System. Research has also been carried out for preparation of action plans especially for Ramsar sites in the country. In a novel research, use of the geospatial technology has also been demonstrated for biodiversity conservation using landscape ecological metrics. A country-wide estimate of emission of methane, a Green House Gas, from wetlands has also been made using MODIS data. Present article critically reviews the work carried out in India for wetland conservation and management using geospatial techniques.
Wetlands Remote sensing GIS Geospatial techniques Ramsar convention Biodiversity Information system
9 Cross-taxon congruence in wetlands: Assessing the value of waterbirds as surrogates of macroinvertebrate biodiversity in Mediterranean Ramsar sites 2015 S. Guareschi Ecological Indicators 49 (2015) 204–215
Wetlands are among the most threatened habitats and the species they support among the most endangered taxa. Measuring and monitoring wetland biodiversity is vital for conservation, restoration and management, and often relies on the use of surrogate taxa. Waterbirds are commonly used as flagships of biodiversity and are the subject of major conservation initiatives. Therefore, it is important to assess the extent to which waterbirds indicate the general biodiversity of wetlands and serve as surrogates. We explore the relationships between community composition and species richness of waterbirds and aquatic macroinvertebrates in 36 Ramsar wetlands in southern Spain to assess if waterbirds are good surrogates for other taxonomic groups. Specifically, we aimed to (i) test the congruence of patterns of species composition and richness among waterbirds and aquatic macroinvertebrates; and (ii) investigate which environmental variables are associated with the biodiversity patterns of waterbirds and macroinvertebrates, with the purpose of identifying key factors explaining potential discordance in these patterns. We found a limited concordance between assemblage patterns of both taxonomic groups that may be related to their contrasting responses to environmental gradients. Assemblages of waterbirds appear to be more affected by climate variables and water surface area, whereas conductivity was the most important factor influencing macroinvertebrate communities. Furthermore, we found a negligible or inverse relationship in their patterns of richness, with wetlands with higher waterbird species richness showing significantly lower richness of Hemiptera and macroinvertebrate families, and no significant relationship with Coleoptera. In addition, GLM models showed that, in general, different environmental variables are related with the richness patterns of the different taxonomic groups. Given the importance of the Ramsar convention for the conservation of an international network of wetlands, our findings underline the limited potential of waterbirds as aquatic biodiversity indicators in Mediterranean wetlands, and the need for caution when using waterbirds as flagships. An integrative analysis of different biological communities, using datasets from different taxonomic groups, is a necessary precursor for successful conservation policies and monitoring. Our results illustrate the need to create a diversified and complete network of protected sites able to conserve multiple components of wetland biodiversity.
Aquatic ecosystems Ramsar wetlands Diversity patterns Waterbirds Macroinvertebrates
10 Hydrological regime of Molochnyi Liman under anthropogenic and natural drivers as a basis for management decision-making 2015 V.O. Demchenkoet al., Environmental Science & Policy 46 (2015) 37–47
Molochnyi Liman is the largest liman (22,000 ha) at the northern coast of the Sea of Azov. Contrary to estuaries, it is an ecotone without typical tides. It is a half-closed water body, with a connection to the Sea of Azov that has periodically renewed or ceased over the course of time. Molochnyi Liman is a wetland of international importance, a hydrological reserve of state significance and is part of the Pryazovskyi National Natural Park. The results of our research have established that termination of the liman/sea connection has led to significant hydrological changes. The most crucial is a reduction in the liman’s depth, accompa- nied with shrinkage in the water surface area, a dramatic increase in salinity to 95 g/l and the loss of several Ramsar criteria. Restoration of the Molochnyi Liman ecosystem requires a positive water balance. There is a need for ensuring the inflow of at least 100 mln m3 of marine water into the liman through a connecting channel. This will renew normal functioning of the liman and reduce the salinity to an optimal level. The methodical approach used in this work can also be applied to other closed and half-closed water bodies of the Azov-Black Sea Region. The development of a hydrological model can be effectively used as a supportive tool for the management of the Tylihulskyi, Khadzhibeiskyi and Kuyalnytskyi limans in the north-western part of the Black Sea
Climate changes Dynamics of hydrological characteristics Wetland Ecological status Management Molochnyi Liman Azov Sea region
11 Spatial changes of estuary in Ernakulam district, Southern India for last seven decades, using multi-temporal satellite data 2015 P.T. Dipsonet al., Journal of Environmental Management 148 (2015) 134-142
The study area, located in the western side of Kerala State, South India, is a part of Vembanad-Kol wetlands e the largest estuary in India’s western coastal wetland system and one of the Ramsar Sites of Kerala. Major portion of this estuary comes under the Ernakulam district which includes the Cochin City e the business and Industrial hub of Kerala, which has seen fast urbanization since independence (1947). Recently, this region is subjected to a characteristic fast urban sprawl, whereas, the estuarine zone is subjected to tremendous land use/land cover changes (LULC). Periodic monitoring of the estuary is essential for the formulation of viable management options for the sustainable utilization of this vital environmental resource. Remote sensing coupled with GIS applications has proved to be a useful tool in monitoring wetland changes. In the present study, the changes this estuarine region have undergone from 1944 to 2009 have been monitored with the help of multi-temporal satellite data. Estuarine areas were mapped with the help of Landsat MSS (1973), Landsat ETM (1990) and IRS LISS-III (1998 and 2009) using visual interpretation and digitization techniques in ArcGIS 9.3 Environment. The study shows a progressive decrease in the estuarine area, the reasons of which are identified chronologically.
Estuary Wetland Remote sensing Spatial changes Reclamation Encroachment
11 Using internet search behavior to assess public awareness of protected wetlands 2014 Yuno Doet al., Conservation Biology, Volume 29, No. 1, 271–279
Improving public awareness of protected wetlands facilitates sustainable wetland management, which depends on public participation. One way of gauging public interest is by tracking Internet search behavior (ISB). We assessed public awareness of issues related to protected wetland areas (PWAs) in South Korea by examining the frequencies of specific queries (PWAs, Ramsar, Upo wetland, Sunchon Bay, etc.) using relative search volumes (RSVs) obtained from an Internet search engine. RSV shows how many times a search term is used relative to a second search term during a specific period. Public awareness of PWAs changed from 2007 to 2013. Initially the majority of Internet searches were related to the most well-known tidal and inland wetlands Sunchon Bay and Upo wetlands, which are the largest existing wetlands in Korea with the greatest historical exposure. Public awareness, as reflected in RSVs, of wetlands increased significantly following PWA designation for the wetlands in 2008, which followed the Ramsar 10th Conference of Contracting Parties to the Convention on Wetlands (COP10) meeting. Public interest was strongly correlated to the number of news articles in the popularmedia, as evidenced by the increase in Internet searches for specific wetlands and words associated with specific wetlands. Correspondingly, the number of visitors to specific wetlands increased. To increase public interest in wetlands, wetland aspects that enhance wetland conservation should be promoted by the government and enhanced via public education. Our approach can be used to gauge public awareness and participation in a wide range of conservation efforts.
internet query index, public interest, quantitative assessment, Ramsar Convention, Ramsar wetland
12 Shortfalls and Solutions for Meeting National and Global Conservation Area Targets 2015 Stuart H.M. Butchartet al., Conservation Letters, xxx 2015, 00(0), 1–9
Governments have committed to conserving 17% of terrestrial and 10% of marine environments globally, especially “areas of particular importance for biodiversity” through “ecologically representative” Protected Area (PA) systems or other “area-based conservation measures”, while individual countries have committed to conserve 3–50% of their land area. We estimate that PAs currently cover 14.6% of terrestrial and 2.8% of marine extent, but 59–68% of ecoregions, 77–78% of important sites for biodiversity, and 57% of 25,380 species have inadequate coverage. The existing 19.7 million km2 terrestrial PA network needs only 3.3 million km2 to be added to achieve 17% terrestrial coverage. However, it would require nearly doubling to achieve, costefficiently, coverage targets for all countries, ecoregions, important sites, and species. Poorer countries have the largest relative shortfalls. Such extensive and rapid expansion of formal PAs is unlikely to be achievable. Greater focus is therefore needed on alternative approaches, including community- and privately managed sites and other effective area-based conservation measures.
Aichi Targets; Alliance for Zero Extinction; Convention on Biological Diversity; Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas; IUCN Red List; Key Biodiversity Areas; protected areas.
13 Sustainable livelihoods through conservation of wetland resources: a case of economic benefits from Ghodaghodi Lake, western Nepal 2015 Pramod Lamsalet al., Ecology and Society 20(1): 10.
We investigated the participation of local ethnic groups in wetland conservation, determined the economic benefits that they received from the wetlands, and assessed socioeconomic factors that affect dependency on wetlands. A total of 217 wetland resource-user households residing around Ghodaghodi Lake, western Nepal were surveyed. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, t-tests and ordinary least squares regressions. The wetland resources contributed significantly to the household economy of the local people. Each household extracted lake resources at an annual worth of NPR 4379 ($63 USD), equivalent to 12.4% of the household total gross income. Although the people maintained a positive attitude toward wetland conservation, their participation in conservation efforts was inadequate. Socioeconomic factors such as larger household size, older age of the head of the family, and larger area of agricultural land increased the rate of resource extraction. In contrast, when households were involved with local conservation organizations, resource extraction was reduced. We recommend the following resource conservation and livelihood strategies: implementation of community-based conservation approaches to increase system productivity, adoption of biogas plants, and improved cooking stoves to reduce fuelwood consumption, coupled with conservation awareness programs.
conservation attitude; conservation participation; livelihood; sustainability; wetland conservation
14 The study of biodiversity of water birds in the Suruwila lake region of Anawilundawa Tank Sanctuary (Ramsar Convention), Srilanka 2015 Mariyam Begum Species, 2015, 12(36), 111-116
The Suruwila Lake, is a part of the Anawilundawa Water tank system that comprises of seven small irrigation tanks, Pinkattiya, Wellawala, Maradansole, Irakka-wela/IhalaWewa, Anawilundawa, Suruwila and Maiyawa located between 7°40’N and 79° 49’E , in the North Western Province of Puttalam in Sri Lanka. It is protected under the Ramsar Convention for wetlands since 03/08/2001. The total area of the region under protection encompasses an area of 1397 ha. The study was conducted over a period of three days (from 13/05/2014 to 28/05/2014) spread over a fortnight and employed an all-out search method. The recorded sightings include the birds that were seen and identified at the water front during the daylight from between 0600 hours to 1600 hours, thus this research project include only daylight sighting of water birds as the primary component. A total of 29 birds that reside near the lake were recorded, which can be broadly divided into 13 families. Of the birds, that, were obsereved at the Suruwila lake, there is a greater presence of birds belonging to Family Ardeidaeat a species level. Of the 9 identified species, a lone Casmerodiusalbus(GreatEgret) was seen, in flight. A single sighting of Platalealeucordia (Eurasian spoonbill) and Anhinga melanogaster(Oriental Darter) were made. The most common species of the Family Rallidae were Porphyrioporphyrio(purple swamphen). Dense human habitation and settlement, who engage in fishing and paddy cultivation for an occupation is noticeable. The region sees the disturbing presence of water hyacinth that are reported to be abundant in the Suruwila Lake during the rainier presence was observed, whose successful growth rate can be attributed to inorganic fertilizers that are used in paddy farming. Detrimental impact of the human population extends to reports suggesting the involvement of people in illegal trade of animals and birds. A closer proximity to the highway suggest that the wetland system can be affected by pollution and in turn may have adverse effect on the biodiversity count.There is a possibility that the practice of agriculture can lead to the encroachment of the area that comprise the wetland. The study emphasis the need to conserve the wetland ecosystem, they sustain a high level of biodiversity of both flora and fauna. Moreover, they aide in, flood mitigation, maintaining ground water levels and in reducing pollution.
Ramsar, Wetland, Suruwila Lake, Anawilundawa Water Tank, water birds, biodiversity.
15 Bird flight initiation distances in relation to distance from human settlements in a Tanzanian floodplain habitat 2015 Linn M. Bjørvik J Ornithol (2015) 156:239–246
Human activity affects wildlife in many ways, but there have been few studies of how wildlife behavioural responses to human disturbance vary with distance from centres of human activity. Theory suggests that fear responses may be either higher in areas with high disturbance (disturbance avoidance) or lower in such areas (e.g. due to habituation). We used flight initiation distance (FID) to study how fear responses of 16 bird species varied with distance from villages (range 0.1–11.6 km) within the Ramsar site of Kilombero Valley, Tanzania. A linear model indicated that FID was not related to distance from villages, but varied between habitats. However, a piecewise linear model (linear response up to 2 km, flat response [2 km from villages) provided a better fit and suggested that there may be a small decrease in FID close to human settlements, in particular for the Common Bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus) and a few other species, although the majority of species still showed little change in FID with distance from human settlements. Our results suggest that a few species may respond to human disturbance with a decreased FID, whereas the majority of species showed little variation in FID in relation to distance from human settlements, and may therefore be negatively affected by increasing frequency of human disturbance.
Birds Fear response Flight initiation distance Habituation Human disturbance
16 Mapping the Serological Prevalence Rate of West Nile fever in Equids, Tunisia 2015 R. Bargaoui Transboundary and Emerging Diseases. 62 (2015) 55–66
West Nile fever (WNF) is a viral disease of wild birds transmitted by mosquitoes. Humans and equids can also be affected and suffer from meningoencephalitis. In Tunisia, two outbreaks of WNF occurred in humans in 1997 and 2003; sporadic cases were reported on several other years. Small-scale serological surveys revealed the presence of antibodies against WN virus (WNV) in equid sera. However, clinical cases were never reported in equids, although their population is abundant in Tunisia. This study was achieved to characterize the nationwide serological status of WNV in Tunisian equids. In total, 1189 sera were collected in 2009 during a cross-sectional survey. Sera were tested for IgG antibodies, using ELISA and microneutralization tests. The estimated overall seroprevalence rate was 28%, 95% confidence interval [22; 34]. The highest rates were observed (i) in the north-eastern governorates (Jendouba, 74%), (ii) on the eastern coast (Monastir, 64%) and (iii) in the lowlands of Chott El Jerid and Chott el Gharsa (Kebili, 58%; Tozeur, 52%). Environmental risk factors were assessed, including various indicators of wetlands, wild avifauna, night temperature and chlorophyllous activity (normalized difference vegetation index: NDVI). Multimodel inference showed that lower distance to ornithological sites and wetlands, lower night-time temperature, and higher NDVI in late spring and late fall were associated with higher serological prevalence rate. The model-predicted nationwide map of WNF seroprevalence rate in Tunisian equids highlighted different areas with high seroprevalence probability. These findings are discussed in the perspective of implementing a better WNF surveillance system in Tunisia. This system might rely on (i) a longitudinal survey of sentinel birds in high-risk areas and time periods for WNV transmission, (ii) investigations of bird die-offs and (iii) syndromic surveillance of equine meningoencephalitis.
West Nile fever; equids; serological prevalence; environmental risk factors; risk map; Tunisia
17 Mapping inundation in the heterogeneous floodplain wetlands of the Macquarie Marshes, using Landsat Thematic Mapper 2015 Rachael F. Thomas et al., Journal of Hydrology 524 (2015) 194–213
Flood dependent aquatic ecosystems worldwide are in rapid decline with competing demands for water. In Australia, this is particularly evident in the floodplain wetlands of semi-arid regions (e.g. the Macquarie Marshes), which rely on highly variable flooding from river flows. Environmental flows mitigate the impacts of river regulation, inundating floodplains, thereby rehabilitating degraded habitats. Mapping flooding patterns is critical for environmental flow management but challenging in large heterogeneous floodplains with variable patterns of flooding and complex vegetation mosaics. We mapped inundation in the Macquarie Marshes, using Landsat 5 TM and Landsat 7 ETM+ images (1989–2010). We classified three inundation classes: water, mixed pixels (water, vegetation, soil) and vegetation (emergent macrophytes obscuring inundation), merged to map inundated areas from notinundated areas (dry land). We used the Normalised Difference Water Index (NDWIB2/B5), masked by the sum of bands 4, 5, and 7 (sum457), to detect water and mixed pixels. Vegetation was classified using an unsupervised classification of a composite image comprising two dates representing vegetation senescence and green growth, transformed into two contrasting vegetation indices, NDVI and NDIB7/B4. We assessed accuracy using geo-referenced oblique aerial photography, coincident with Landsat imagery for a small and large flood, producing respective overall accuracies of inundated area of 93% and 95%. Producer’s and user’s accuracies were also high (94–99%). Confusion among inundation classes existed but classes were spectrally distinct from one another and from dry land. Inundation class areas varied with flood size, demonstrating the variability. Inundation extent was highly variable (683–206,611 ha). Floods up to 50,000 ha were confined to the north and south wetland regions. Connectivity to the east region only occurred when flooding was greater than 51,000 ha. Understanding the spatiotemporal dynamics of inundation is critical for quantifying the environmental flow requirements across the suite of biota in the Ramsar-listed Macquarie Marshes.
Water index Vegetation index Semi-arid Environmental flows
18 Free living protozoans as bioindicators in Vembanad lake, Kerala, India, an important Ramsar site 2015 Ranju Radhakrishnan and Jayaprakas V. International Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Studies 2015; 2(3): 192-197
The use of the free living protozoan communities has benefited in perfectly characterizing and monitoring the prevailing environmental conditions of aquatic habitats that are typically found at marginal freshwater regions. A particular community of organism may be useful as an environmental indicator due to many reasons. Some may have sensitivity to low levels of anthropogenic contaminants, yet some others may tolerate and survive in the hardy and extreme conditions, and others also may react quickly to change in environment. Thus they tend to become a unique biotic tool to understand the ecological status of an aquatic habitat. Vembanad Lake and its adjacent kol lands has acclaimed international recognition as a Ramsar site. This lake is a biological niche of a multitude of organisms and it is intricately woven with the lives of the resident communities of its banks. The lake has also been facing severe environmental crisis during the last 3 decades due to anthropogenic influences. Presently, 19 species of free-living protozoans have been identified and characterized from this lake. A total of 15 testacid rhizopods belonging to 2 orders, 6 families and 9 genera were recorded. And the ciliates of 3 orders, 3 families were recorded. Among the testaceous rhizopods 1species from Arcellidae family, 5 from Centropyxidae, 1 species from Nebelidae, 6 from Difflugidae belonging to the Class Lobosea and 2 species from the Class Filosea belonging to Cyphoderiidae and Euglyphidae families were identified. Some of these freeliving forms have given certain insights of the prevailing ecological conditions of this lake thus acting as perfect Bioindicators. Euglypha tuberculata reported in the present study is a species of wide tolerance and survives in diverse habitats. Similarly Cryptodifflugia oviformis which was reported for the first time in India in this study prefers dryer environments. Due to its small size, this species mainly feeds on bacteria and yeasts, their high abundance explains active decomposition process in the area. The diversity of the free-living ciliates in the study area included species belonging to 3 genera namely Euplotes, Tachysoma and Coleps and they were pollution indicators possessing the property of heavy metal uptake. The water quality analysis and heavy metal analysis also proved the waters of the lake polluted with heavy metal concentrations. Thus the present study draws our attention to the possibility of using these dominant ciliate species for bioremediation of aquatic pollutants in this lake. Thus these freshwater free living protozoans serve as good bioindicators reflecting the natural ecological conditions prevailing in the Vembanad Lake. They can also be effective bioremediation tools that can be applied to solve the heavy metal pollution crisis of the lake.
Marine ornamental fish, Parasites, Caligus, Aquaculture, Fish diseases.
19 Assessing climate change impacts on wetlands in a flow regulated catchment: A case study in the Macquarie Marshes, Australia 2015 Baihua Fu et al., Journal of Environmental Management 157 (2015) 127-138
Globally wetlands are increasingly under threat due to changes in water regimes as a result of river regulation and climate change. We developed the Exploring CLimAte Impacts on Management (EXCLAIM) decision support system (DSS), which simulates flow-driven habitat condition for 16 vegetation species, 13 waterbird species and 4 fish groups in the Macquarie catchment, Australia. The EXCLAIM DSS estimates impacts to habitat condition, considering scenarios of climate change and water management. The model framework underlying the DSS is a probabilistic Bayesian network, and this approach was chosen to explicitly represent uncertainties in climate change scenarios and predicted ecological outcomes. The results suggest that the scenario with no climate change and no water resource development (i.e. flow condition without dams, weirs or water license entitlements, often regarded as a surrogate for ‘natural’ flow) consistently has the most beneficial outcomes for vegetation, waterbird and native fish. The 2030 dry climate change scenario delivers the poorest ecological outcomes overall, whereas the 2030 wet climate change scenario has beneficial outcomes for waterbird breeding, but delivers poor outcomes for river red gum and black box woodlands, and fish that prefer river channels as habitats. A formal evaluation of the waterbird breeding model showed that higher numbers of observed nest counts are typically associated with higher modelled average breeding habitat conditions. The EXCLAIM DSS provides a generic framework to link hydrology and ecological habitats for a large number of species, based on best available knowledge of their flood requirements. It is a starting point towards developing an integrated tool for assessing climate change impacts on wetland ecosystems.
Climate change Ramsar wetland Habitat condition Decision support system
20 Aquatic insect community of Deepor beel (Ramsar site), Assam, India 2015 Baihua Fu et al., Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies 2015; 3 (1): 182-192
An investigation on the aquatic insect community of 10 selected sites of Deepor beel, the only Ramsar site of Assam situated on the southern side of River Brahmaputra was carried out during the month of March to November, 2013. During the study period aquatic insect community was represented by 31 species belonging to 18 families of 5 orders. Record of 17 species and 8 families of the order Hemiptera showed that it is the largest order in terms of aquatic insect diversity followed by order Coleoptera having 7 species and 5 families.
Deepor beel, Hemiptera, Coleoptera, aquatic insect diversity.
21 Forty-three years of Ramsar and urban wetlands 2015 Missaka Hettiarachchiet al., Global Environmental Change 32 (2015) 57–66
The Ramsar Convention is unquestionably the backbone of modern wetland management theory and practice. In the last four decades, it has mainstreamed wetlands in the environmental discourse and fostered the development of a comprehensive institutional framework for wetland governance. However, many of the wetlands that occur in human-dominated landscapes remain acutely threatened. The problem is most alarming in urban areas, especially in the fast expanding cities of the developing world, where unprecedented wetland destruction is leading to recurring environmental disasters. This triggers the question: are these failures in wetland governance purely induced by factors exogenous to Ramsar-based institutions or are they manifestations of conceptual drawbacks within Ramsar conceptual framework. Here, we investigate the success and failures of the application of the Ramsar framework’s policy directives and management guidelines for urban wetlands using two rapidly expanding cities in South Asia as case studies – Colombo (Sri Lanka) and Kolkata (India). We conclude that despite its remarkable achievements over the past four decades, the Ramsar framework has several conceptual drawbacks that weaken its effectiveness in complex urban contexts. An inadequate recognition of the complex dynamics of urban social-ecological systems, an inadequate recognition of the political complexity of the policy processes, and a lack of an environmental justice perspective are the main shortcomings contributing to failures in urban wetlands governance. While we acknowledge that some solutions are contingent upon national and transnational level socio-political processes and reforms, we offer a set of technical and strategic modifications to the Ramsar framework that can significantly improve its effectiveness in urban wetlands governance.
Emerging cities Ramsar Convention Urban socio-ecological systems Environmental justice Environmental governance
22 When implementation works: A comparison of Ramsar Convention implementation in different continents 2015 Volker Mauerhoferet al., Environmental Science & Policy 51 (2015) 95 – 105
What are the processes that shape implementation of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) in multilevel governance? In an attempt to address this question, we move from a top-down view of implementation as compliance with international rules to viewing it as a dynamic process shaped by action at various levels. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands offers an important context to understand the mechanisms that shape multilevel implementation outcomes. We examine Ramsar Convention implementation in Austria, Mexico, and the Republic of Korea in order to identify relevant processes that define multilevel implementation. These cases represent three different types of government, and shed light on the ways in which international law is implemented by respective governments. The Austrian case, a federal government, illustrates the ways in which subnational authorities (the provinces) are influenced by binding regional institutions (EU-rules) to create a more robust context for protection in terms of designation of Ramsar sites. The Mexican case, a semi-federal government, shows how spurred involvement by local NGOs, states, and scientists can result in significant expansion of efforts. The Korean case, a unitary government, demonstrates the ways in which aligning institutional interests (in this case local governments with national ministries) can lead to strong implementation. Analysis of these cases provides two robust findings and one deserving additional study. First, overlapping governance efforts where activity has ties with multiple regional and international biodiversity efforts tend to see cumulative implementation. Second, institutional and organizational complexity can provide opportunities for local actors to drive the implementation agenda through a mix of processes of coordination and contentious politics. A third, more tentative finding, is that multilevel funding sources can ease implementation.
Implementation International law Global environmental politics Multilevel governance Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Biodiversity conservation Local public participation Regional integration Funding

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