Dear nature lovers,
Greetings from oikos !
WATERFALL is one habitat usually found in source region of the rivers.
Waterfalls are a sight to behold and attract tourists and adventurers from far. While this is a well- know aspect of waterfall,what is often overlooked is that they are important habitats for flora and fauna, and their role in maintaining a river’s ecological functions.
Waterfalls usually occur in hilly terrains in source regions of rivers. They are a part of the river or stream which falls over a rocky ledge into a pool below. Waterfalls perform an important ecological function of water purification by mixing gaseous oxygen with water. This is called as aeration. The splashing of water increases its contact with air and allows the mixing.
Waterfalls show fantastic and unique association with cryptogams (non-flowering plants) like algae, ferns, mosses, lichens and others, and some higher plants like grasses and herbs. Moreover, waterfalls attract certain birds. The waterfalls in Northern Western Ghats show a typical association with a grass Tripogon, herbs like Sonerila and birds like Malabar Whistling Thrush.
This diversity depends on seasonality of the waterfall. Perennial and seasonal waterfalls exhibit different species. The spray zones created by waterfalls are effectively ‘vertical wetlands’ and consistently more moist than surrounding habitats. This results in a special diversity. The association of biodiversity also changes with the topography, aspect, associated talus (pile of rocks that accumulates at the base of a cliff), forest type and heterogeneity of the general habitat. Above these are the physical and chemical properties of water.
A waterfall, then, is not just a beautiful sight, but all these things which are a critical part of the ecosystem around them. These are the overlooked aspects and it is important to understand and respect them. Activities which hamper these must be avoided and interventions which displace the physical structure and associated diversity should not be permitted. Moreover, dumping waste, plucking plants or flowers, washing with soaps or detergent must be prohibited at waterfalls.
Ketaki & Manasi
With Team oikos!
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