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Shrinking mudflat ecosystem of Kerala’s Kadalundi keeps shorebirds away

Syllabus: Environment and Ecology[GS Paper-3]

Context: The village of Kadalundi in Kerala used to have 8 hectares of nutrient-rich mudflats, but now only 1 hectare remains. This small area is also being covered with sand, which is affecting the prey available for migrating shorebirds.

Mudflat Ecosystem:

  • Mudflats are areas of land near water that are regularly flooded by tides. 
  • They are typically devoid of vegetation and are formed by the deposition of mud. 
  • Mudflats, also known as tidal flats, are part of a crucial ecosystem that includes mangroves. 
  • They play a vital role in protecting coastal areas from erosion and serve as a habitat for shore birds.

 Causes of shrinking:

  • The decrease in water levels is primarily caused by sedimentation, which occurs when particles like sand and stones settle at the bottom of a water body. 
  • Additionally, human activities involving excessive water consumption, as well as rising temperatures and evapotranspiration caused by climate change, are also contributing factors to the shrinking of water sources.

How do climate changes impact water bodies?

  • The world’s largest lakes and reservoirs have decreased in size by over 50% in the past 30 years. 
  • Between 1992 and 2020, approximately 600 cubic km of water was lost, which is equivalent to the total water used in the United States in 2015. 
  • The main cause of this decline in water storage is sedimentation, which has a greater impact than droughts or recovery from droughts. 
  • One of the most affected lakes in India is Ladakh’s Tso Moriri. Unsustainable water consumption in these large lakes has contributed to the decrease in water levels. 
  • Arctic lakes have also shrunk due to changes in precipitation, runoff, temperature, and PET, likely caused by natural variability and climate change. 
  • Natural lakes in humid tropics and high altitudes are also experiencing water shortages due to human activities such as excessive water consumption and increasing temperatures and evapotranspiration.

Consequences of decreasing water bodies.

  • The decline of large lakes and reservoirs has serious consequences for global water resources. 
  • It affects various sectors, such as agriculture, energy, and human consumption, leading to conflicts and challenges. 
  • The reduction in water availability also impacts food security, as agriculture relies heavily on water for irrigation. 
  • Additionally, the decline in water levels affects energy generation and disrupts ecosystems, threatening biodiversity. 
  • This decline directly affects human populations, particularly those reliant on these water bodies for drinking water and livelihoods, leading to water shortages and potential migration. 


These issues pose significant socio-economic challenges, especially in regions heavily dependent on these water sources.

Source: TH

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