Jakkur Lake Biodiversity Walk

Date & Time: March 30, 2019, 7.00 am onwards

Led by: Aswathy Joseph. Aswathy is a Biology teacher. Biology, nature, education and art are very dear to her. She also believes in teaching through stories. During this walk, she will be sharing fascinating information about the plants in the lake area, the animal life they support and the interlinkages within the lake habitat.

Walk Duration: Two hours

Location: Kalyani Point, Jakkur Lake (Please see Google maps)

Who can attend: Six years and above

Things to carry: Cap, bottle of water, closed shoes, light clothing/full pants

Contact: Shashank Palur – shashank.palur@atree.org (8000271355) or write to biodiversitywalk@atree.org

A recent study in the journal Biological Conservation recently made headlines for suggesting that 40% of all insect species are in decline and could become extinct in the coming decades. The report singles out a few groups of insects that are particularly threatened — pollinators like bees, butterflies, moths and dung beetles, and other insects that help decompose detritus and faeces. If we don’t stop this decline, entire ecosystems will collapse, the researchers said. “The Bees ain’t Okay” The Hindu, March 10, 2019.

Is it far-fetched to say that decline in pollinators can result in the collapse of the whole ecosystem?

The flowering plants, also known as angiosperms, are the most diverse group of land plants, with approximately 250,000- 400,000 known species. We rely on them for food directly and indirectly. More than 85% of the world’s species of flowering plant depend on pollinators for reproduction. A pollinator is an animal that moves pollen from the male part of a flower to the female part of a flower. This helps to bring about fertilization of the flower and formation of seeds. Insect pollinators include bees, (honey bees, solitary species, bumblebees); pollen wasps; ants; flies including bee flies, hoverflies and mosquitoes; lepidopterans, both butterflies and moths; and flower beetles. Pollination is one of the key processes in nature which enables the reproduction of plants and therefore contributes to the maintenance of species biodiversity.

If there is a decline in the number of pollinator insects, there is direct decline in the diversity of the plants which they pollinate. Crop production flounders. Food security is threatened. The prospects do not look good for birds, bats and other animals which depend on plants or insects. The Domino effect threatens the entire food chain. This knowledge has led to efforts toward protecting entire ecosystems rather than individual species.

There are many reasons for this catastrophic decline, but it is mostly due to human activities like deforestation, habitat destruction, introduction of invasive species, destruction of Keystone species and indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The worldwide decline in honey and wild bee populations has been linked to neonicotinoids, which are found in most pesticides.

While the traditional approach of maintaining biodiversity is to protect specific species, it may be better idea to specifically target keystone species or ecosystem engineers, as these species contribute substantially to the function and health of the entire ecosystem. Protecting them may protect other species as well and thus the overall biodiversity of the area.

One of the most effective ways to maintain biodiversity is to protect entire areas that are biodiverse.

Jakkur Lake is very rich in Biodiversity. Plants growing along the lakeshore include mosses, reeds and cattails. Small animals such as snails, shrimp, worms, frogs, and dragonflies live among the plants and lay their eggs on them both above and below the waterline. Farther from the shore, attached floating plants such as water lilies and free floating plants such as water hyacinths thrive. These plants shelter small fish just below the surface. Water bugs, beetles, and spiders glide across the surface or just below it. Small islands in the lake are home to many migratory birds. The northern part of the lake is associated with a constructed wetland.

Other animals live near the lake, such as bats and semi-aquatic animals like turtles. Semi-aquatic animals need both water and land to survive, so both the lake and the shore are important to them.

Many kinds of water birds live on the lake or gather there to breed and raise their young. The most common lake birds include storks, geese, kingfishers, herons, and cormorants, egrets etc. 

The northern part of the lake has a swampy, marshland that forms a part of lake and are habitats for aquatic life They are called wetlands. Treated sewage water enters the lake from a BWSSB inlet. Constructed Wetlands play an important role in absorbing nutrients like nitrates that are commonly present in sewage, thereby improving the water quality in the lake. After passing through the wetlands, the water then flows into the lake through an opening in the bund.

This lake is more than just a simple body of water. It is an important ecosystem that, when cared for, can sustain a healthy balance of life all around it. It is therefore our responsibility to protect and preserve our neighbourhood lake.

‘Think Globally, Act Locally’ is the need of the hour; to take action in our own communities and cities and thereby our planet at large. Let us start with this small step towards a bigger goal. On this walk, we shall identify and catalogue local species of Butterflies. We shall also engage participants with some examples of Plant-animal interactions that exist around the lake and illustrate the importance of preserving Biodiversity and the role of wetlands in the same. Involving citizens in monitoring water quality is another objective of this walk.

As the polar explorer and environmentalist Robert Swan says “The Greatest Threat to Our Planet Is the Belief That Someone Else Will Save It”.