Impact of human-altered hydrographical setting on the Copepod community structure in an extensive tropical estuary along the southwest coast of India
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This study presents how human-altered hydrographical settings (flow restrictions) impacts the natural distribution and community structure of copepods in the Kochi Backwaters (KBW), the largest monsoonal estuary along the southwest coast of India. This study is primarily based on an extensive seasonal sampling in the KBW and their comparison with a historical data set. Thannermukkom Barrage (TB) was built in the southern section of the KBW in the 1970s to prevent saline water intrusion to the upstream during the non-monsoon periods. Thirteen locations (1-4 in the downstream, 5-9 in the midstream, and 10-13 in the upstream) were sampled in this study over the entire stretch of the KBW during the Pre-Southwest Monsoon (PRM), Southwest Monsoon (SWM), and Post-Southwest Monsoon (PSWM). The overall effect of TB in the KBW is a seaward push of mesohaline conditions during all seasons with varying intensities. In response to the seaward push of mesohaline conditions, copepods Acartiella keralensis, Acartia plumosa, Acartia sp., Pseudodiaptomus annandalei, Pseudodiaptomus serricaudatus, Euterpina acutifrons and Oithona brevicornis showed a corresponding spatial shift for their highest abundance and diversity from midstream during PRM to the downstream during the SWM/PSWM. Multivariate and IndVal analysis demarcated many indicator species of copepods of different hydrographical settings in the KBW. A comparison with the historical data set showed that there is an apparent long-term change in hydrography, copepod composition and community structure in the upstream of the KBW due to TB.
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