Effectiveness of organic terrace rice cultivation in conservation of odonates in Sikkim, Eastern Himalaya, India


Conversion of natural habitat into agricultural landscape has been identified as one of the major drivers of habitat loss. Human-modified ecosystems, such as agricultural land, have gained significant attention in terms of the conservation of their native biodiversity. We studied the effectiveness of organic agroecosystems in conserving odonate diversity by comparing organic terrace rice cultivation with a nearby natural forest system with streams in Sikkim, Eastern Himalaya, India. We sampled adult odonates using a transect count method (laying six permanent transects) covering two villages (Lingmoo in South Sikkim and Dzongu in North Sikkim), making a total of 48 transect counts. A total of 881 individual odonates representing 31 species under two suborders (16 Anisoptera and 15 Zygoptera) and seven families were recorded during this study. Of these, 20 species representing three families and 18 species representing seven families were observed in terrace rice cultivation and the natural forest system, respectively. Beta diversity estimates showed that the community composition of the odonates differed qualitatively (incidence measure) and quantitatively (abundance measure) between the two land use types. Turnover component (abundance balance in case of abundance based beta diversity measure) had higher contribution in the overall beta diversity, suggesting that one assemblage of species is being replaced by another due to environmental sorting. The variation in community composition between the two habitats was statistically significant. Our results suggest that organic wetland habitats are important for conservation of odonates and associated biodiversity (especially herpetofauna) in the Himalaya and require urgent conservation attention.

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