KARACHI: More than 90 species of flora and fauna have been recorded at Buleji, a coastal part of Karachi, in a recent study that also calls for declaring the ecologically rich area protected.

The research was conducted by Dr Kanwal Nazim, currently working as a research coordinator with the Sindh forest department, Agha Tahir Hussain and Arif Khokhar, also from the forest department. The data was studied at Karachi University.

It’s the second study by Dr Nazim on Buleji, a rocky ledge located at a distance of 30km from Karachi. The earlier study was conducted in 2010.

“In 2010, we recorded 72 species of fauna and flora while in 2012 the research team identified 97 species. One important factor of concern is that the ecology of the areas is found to be gradually degrading that was evident by its decreasing biomass,” said Dr Nazim.

The ecological degradation, she pointed out, had much to do with increasing public access to the area and some natural factors.

Highlighting the significance of the area, she explained that a rocky shore, an intertidal area of seacoasts where solid rocks predominated, was an ideal place to study the sea life because it had biologically rich environment. “It worked as a useful ‘natural laboratory’ for studying intertidal ecology and other biological processes. Its biota has the ability to survive in arid as well as in drenched situation due to facing lowest low and highest high tides.

“In addition, they are able to cope with freshwater during rain when exposed and salty water when submerged,” she said.

Pakistan coast, she said, was rich in flora and fauna like any other coast of the world but due to anthropogenic disturbances, higher amount of pollution and the effects of climate change, coastal marine biodiversity was under serious threat.

“There is a dire need to comprehensively study the area, analyse the factors affecting its ecology and take measures for conservation,” she said.

According to the study, a large number of rocky pools are present in the tidal zone that also consists of sandy beach. It is high energy zone with a wide variety of habitat which harbours a high diversity of marine organisms.

“These organisms play an important role in marine ecosystem so, the investigation of their composition, abundance, diversity and richness would increase our knowledge to understand energy/food chain of the rocky intertidal coastal ecosystem. In the past, few ecological attempts have been made to study the flora and fauna of the Buleji area,” it says.

The results of the cluster analysis, the study says, indicated two large groups on the basis of pure seaweeds on the sandy beach and the mixed flora and fauna from rocky shore and rocky pools. The higher amount of scattered algae on sandy beach represented the dominance of submerged seaweeds closed to the coast, it says.

“Twenty-seven species recorded from rocky pools, 42 from rocks while the rest from the sandy beach [fish, crabs and other fast moving marine species were not included],” the study says.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2015