Correspondence of zooplankton assemblage and water quality in wetlands of Cachar, Assam, India: Implications for environmental management

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The zooplankton assemblage of selected wetlands of Assam, India was assessed to deduce the structural variation in the context of water quality parameters. A two year study between 2012 and 2014 comprising of 530 samples from the five wetlands revealed the presence of 46 taxa, 26 Rotifera, 15 Cladocera, 4 Copepoda and 1 Ostracoda, in varying density. The rotifers dominated in terms of abundance (48 ind. cm−3) followed by the cladocerans (28 ind. cm−3) and the copepods (19 ind. cm−3) and showed significant (p <0.05) correlations with turbidity, alkalinity, hardness and phosphate contents of the water samples. The diversity and the richness of the zooplankton showed an increasing trend with the water temperature. Among the different taxa, Brachionus sp. was most abundant followed by Mesocyclops sp. while Beauchampiella sp. was represented in the least numbers. Application of the cluster analysis allowed the segregation of the different zooplankton based on the similarities of abundance in the samples. The water quality parameters like temperature, alkalinity, turbidity, magnesium and calcium were observed to be significant contributors in shaping the zooplankton community composition of the wetlands, revealed through the correlations and canonical correspondence analysis. As an extension, the information can be used in monitoring the quality of the freshwater habitats of the concerned and similar geographical regions, using the zooplankton as the major constituents. The variations in the abundance of cladoceran, copepod and rotifer zooplanktons can be used to understand the mechanisms that sustain the food webs of the aquatic community of the freshwater bodies.

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