Over 150 species of invertebrates found on Vetal Tekdi

  • | Tuesday | 12th December, 2023

Pune: Vetal Tekdi, home to at least over 120 bird species, is also a haven for many other animals and terrestrial habitation rarely found in urban spaces. Sameer Padhye, a freshwater biologist, said that there are over 150 species of invertebratesin the ARAI stone quarry pond, making it a species-rich habitat. The species include freshwater sponges, bryozoans, crustaceans and much more, some of which are ecologically sensitive to pollution.These species were found in abundant numbers in the quarry. These organisms are only a sample of what could be the vast organism cover of the entire hill.We conducted a survey throughout the year to determine the number of dragonflies and damselflies in the area and found a dense population of the aforementioned animals in the quarry. These insects have been natural habitants of the hills for many years now. However, with construction of urban landscapes, the tekdi has become an ecological trap, a sole zone for existence of biodiversity without any alterations in their ecosystem, said Pankaj Koparde, assistant professor of environmental science, MIT World Peace University, Pune.Scientists also stated that the eggs of many organisms are carried as sediments on the legs or bodies of birds or larger mammals and dispersed by wind as well. Padhye said, These groups of animals are indicative of pollution levels, considering their sensitivity. The only other place we found a similar group of organisms was the Pune University quarry. There are hardly any invasive groups of animals in the ARAI quarry pond. Diversity of zooplankton were also high, indicating good habitual condition. However, the most important of the lot like the freshwater sponges and bryozoans, which are extremely sensitive to pollution, are also seen here. Mandar Datar, a scientist at Agarkar Research Institute, surveyed the terrestrial tree and shrub habitat of the tekdi to find native species of trees. Vetal Tekdi was a grassland about a hundred years ago. The tree cover consists of dry deciduous trees that are native to the region. But most importantly, Moi (in Marathi, also known as Indian Ash tree) and Salai (Boswellia tree) were found, he said. Datar spoke about Jatropha nana, a threatened species found only in six to seven areas in the state. Several conditions such as temperature, pollinators and rainfall, which are usually optimum in the tekdi, are the reasons behind their abundance, said Datar. Before carrying out any development work, the concerned parties must conduct a thorough environmental assessment of the zone to prevent harm to the animals, said Padhye.

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