, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 115–125 | Cite as

Wetland Loss and Waterbird use of Wetlands in Palwal District, Haryana, India: The Role of Agriculture, Urbanization and Conversion to Fish Ponds

  • K. S. Gopi Sundar
  • Aditya Singh Chauhan
  • Swati Kittur
  • Suresh Babu
Original Research


Wetlands in tropical and sub-tropical landscapes are experiencing changes and loss due to urbanization and intensive human use, but there is sparse detailed understanding of how these affect use by wetland-dependent birds. Urbanization and conversion of community wetlands to private fish ponds are occurring rapidly in Haryana state in north India. We conducted a study in Palwal district, Haryana in 2013–2014 to simultaneously understand (i) rates and reasons for wetland loss between 1970s and 2000s, and (ii) relative importance of location (towns/ villages versus those amid agriculture) versus site-specific variables on the winter abundance of 31 waterbird species in these fish ponds. Wetland extent reduced by 52 %, and average wetland size reduced by 42 % between 1970s and 2000s. Expansion of urban areas converted 105 agricultural wetlands to town wetlands. Wetlands of different locations could not be differentiated using waterbird abundance suggesting that wetland conditions have been homogenized, in part due to conversions to fish ponds and in part due to urban expansions. Focal waterbird abundance was affected more due to human activities relative to location or vegetation. A complex combination of current management practices and historical determinants of wetland persistence appear to be driving waterbird use of wetlands in locations like Palwal.


Agricultural wetlands Hierarchical variance partitioning Waterbird feeding guilds Wetland management 



KSGS thanks the Arthur L. and Elaine V. Foundation for a generous grant that enabled this study; KSGS, ASC, and SK thank the International Crane Foundation, and the Nature Conservation Foundation for administrative support; ASC and SB thank the Ambedkar University’s School of Human Ecology, Delhi for facilitating this work as part of ASC’s dissertation project towards a Masters in Human Ecology. We thank the various fish farm owners for allowing work on their land, and for many discussions that enhanced our understanding of the management system in Palwal. A previous draft benefitted from comments provided by J. Langenberg and two anonymous reviewers.

Supplementary material

13157_2014_600_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (195 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 194 kb)
13157_2014_600_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (185 kb)
ESM 2 (PDF 185 kb)
13157_2014_600_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (98 kb)
ESM 3 (PDF 97 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. S. Gopi Sundar
    • 1
    • 2
  • Aditya Singh Chauhan
    • 2
    • 3
  • Swati Kittur
    • 2
  • Suresh Babu
    • 3
  1. 1.International Crane FoundationProgram SarusScapeBarabooUSA
  2. 2.Nature Conservation FoundationCranes and Wetlands ProgrammeMysoreIndia
  3. 3.School of Human EcologyAmbedkar UniversityNew DelhiIndia

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