Changing Avian Diversity in Jodhpur, Western Rajasthan

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Abstract

Jodhpur is a part of the western arid zone of India and was once considered as capital of the former princely state of Marwar, Rajasthan. It is also a ‘door’ to the Great Indian Desert, the Thar. Ecologically, the fauna and flora represent those of a typical desert. In the recent past, environmental conditions have changed substantially in Jodhpur District, associated with the replacement of several desert species. An ample supply of water through the Indira Gandhi Canal has led to a strongly modified overall ecological scenario in terms of avian diversity, the number of species having increased from 125 in 1992 to 232 in the year 2002. Concurrently, the habitats of several ground species have suffered severe alterations due to urbanization—vast expanses of scrublands and barren lands have been turned into residential areas and gardens. The gardens are being maintained due to the continuous water supply, and have attracted several species, as a result of which there has been a considerable change in species composition. Moreover, increased mining activities have had negative impacts on species diversity and replacement. Thus, continuous patches of uniform habitats have been fragmented due to developmental activities in the region. The native fauna is declining and facing the pressure of increased competition between sympatric species. More attention is needed for the conservation of the native fauna and their habitats if the changes which have already occurred in Jodhpur are not to extend to the whole scenario for the Great Indian Thar Desert. This would be an immense loss of the unique ecosystem of the Great Saharo-Tharian desert of India.