Spatio-temporal analysis of floating islands and their behavioral changes in Loktak Lake with respect to biodiversity using remote sensing and GIS techniques
The presence of floating islands is a unique characteristic of Loktak Lake. Floating islands play a significant role in ecosystem services and ecological processes and functioning. Rapid urbanization, industrialization, and a demand for more resources have led to changes in the landscape patterns at Loktak Lake in past three decades, thereby degrading and threatening the fragile ecosystem. The aim of the present study is to assess the changes in land use practices of the Phumdis by analyzing data from the past 38 years with remote sensing techniques. Landsat images from 1977, 1988, 1999 and an Indian remote sensing image from 2015 were used to assess the land use/land cover changes. The methodology adopted is a supervised classification using the maximum likelihood technique in ERDAS software. Five land used classes were employed: open water bodies, agricultural areas, Phumdis with thick vegetation, and Phumdis with thin vegetation and settlements. The results indicate that the highest loss of land used class was in Phumdis with thin vegetation (49.38 km2) followed by Phumdis with thick vegetation (8.59 km2), while there was an overall increase in open water bodies (27.00 km2), agricultural areas (25.33 km2), and settlement (5.75 km2). Our study highlights the loss of floating islands from the Loktak as a major concern that will lead to the destruction of the only “floating national park in the world.” There is a high probability of extinction of the Sangai, an important keystone species found in the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot, if floating islands are not protected through sustainable development.
KeywordsFloating island Loktak Lake Ithai barrage Rucervus eldii eldii Land use/land cover Sustainable land use practice
Authors are thankful to UGC-SAP and DST–FIST for the instrumentation facility provided required for the study. The first author thanks the local people living in and around Loktak Lake who helped during the fieldwork.
This research work was supported with funding from the Society of Wetland Scientists, USA, through a Ramsar Research Grant and by the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation in Hong Kong through a conservation research grant.
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