Environmental Sustainability

, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 449–459 | Cite as

Seasonal effects on diversity of macroinvertebrates in Himalayan Lake Prashar, Himachal Pradesh, India

  • Rama KumariEmail author
  • Ramesh C. Sharma
Original Article


The purpose of this study is to evaluate the seasonal variations in the density and diversity of macroinvertebrates in relation to the dynamics of physicochemical parameters of water quality and study factors which influence the lake ecosystem of Prashar lake of Himachal Pradesh. Monthly sampling from November 2014 to October 2015 at three sites was undertaken to evaluate the community structure of macroinvertebrates in relation to the dynamics of water quality parameters. All three sites (S1, S2, and S3) were identified keeping in view the accessibility, type of substrate and other influencing factors. A total of 25 genera of nine macroinvertebrates groups were identified during the study period. The highest macroinvertebrates abundance was observed in winter and the lowest in monsoon season. Maximum Shannon–Wiener diversity index was recorded at site S3 in winter season as compared to the sites S1 and S2. Water temperature, dissolved oxygen (DO), pH, electrical conductivity (EC), turbidity, total dissolved solids (TDS), and nitrates were important water quality variables that affected the macroinvertebrates diversity of the Prashar lake. The stable and healthy environmental condition of Prashar lake was recorded which was indicated by the presence of Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera (EPT) during winter season. Factors which disturb the diversity and ecosystem of the lake are attributed to the natural and anthropogenic pressures such as, soil erosion, overgrazing, tourism load and solid waste. The density of macroinvertebrates was further influenced by the growth of riparian vegetation, suitable bottom substrates, and water level fluctuations. A strategy for conservation and management is proposed i.e., ex-situ and in-situ conservation, regular environmental monitoring, restoration of the riparian zone, afforestation in the catchment area, raising awareness, solid waste management and research programmes that will be helpful for sustainable management of Prashar lake.


Macroinvertebrates Diversity index Canonical correspondence analysis Conservation Prashar lake 


It is broadly acknowledged that macro-invertebrates occupy central ecological function in the assessment of the environmental quality of aquatic ecosystem (Stewart et al. 2000). Macro-invertebrates communities have many features which are very significant in the assessment of lake ecosystem. Macro-invertebrates density, diversity distribution, population size, and seasonal changes are the major components of the study (Johnson et al. 2004 and Tolonen et al. 2001). Without the study of macroinvertebrates, the assessment of lacustrine ecosystem is fragmentary. Mostly macro-invertebrates are detrivores which play a key role in recycling of organic matter. They are the primary food source for many fishes. Due to their constrained versatility, they act as good indicator of water quality. Macro-invertebrates live in various sensitive life stages in which they face stress and assimilate effects of both temporary and long-standing environmental stressors (Belal et al. 2016). There are various factors which influence the growth of macro-invertebrates community and structure. These factors include temperature, type of substrate, grazing, and predation (Welcome 1979; Winkelmann et al. 2007). Macro-invertebrates generally consist of a heterogeneous group of evolutionary diverse taxa, due to this reason different species respond to different changes that may be natural or imposed on the aquatic ecosystem (Ziglio et al. 2006). The utilization of benthic macroinvertebrates to evaluate the trophic status of the aquatic ecosystem remains the most appropriate, dependable and broadly acclaimed method (Ghosh and Biswas 2015). The macroinvertebrate’s community dynamics represent the quality and trophic status of the water body (Ntislidou et al. 2018; Anthony 2001). The canonical correspondence analysis method has been applied to study the influence of physico-chemical variables on the macroinvertebrates communities (Peeters et al. 2001). The present work has been carried out on lake Prashar with a view to study the qualitative and quantitative changes in the macroinvertebrates in different seasons in relation to the physico-chemical characteristics of the lake water. The study also presents the major causes of degradation to build a sustainable conservation management approach.

Materials and methods

Morphometry of Prashar lake

Latitude (N): 31°45′15.80″N.

Longitude (E): 77°06′04.20″E.

Lake elevation (m): 2614 m.

The open water area of the lake (m2): 1.30 ha.

Maximum depth (m): 5 m.

Minimum depth (m):4 m.

Mean depth (m): 4.5 m.

Water volume (m3): approx 103,500 m3.

Length = 216.94 m.

Width = 73.44 m.

Study area

The sacred Prashar lake is located in the Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh (Latitude 31°45′15.80″N; longitude 77°06′04.20″E) at an altitude of 2614 m above sea level in Western Himalayan region. The lake is oval in shape with an area of 1.30 ha. There is a circular floating island, covered with dense macrophytic vegetation inside the lake, which keeps changing its position throughout the year. The sacred lake is surrounded by small mountain peaks (Fig. 1). Lake is revered by the various local people and tourists visit also visit it in different seasons. Prashar lake is a sacred lake famous by the name of an ancient Rishi Parashara, who came to meditate here. Due to religious importance of the lake, any anthropogenic activity inside the lake is prohibited.
Fig. 1

Location map of Prashar lake with sampling sites (S1, S2 and S3)

Sample collection and analysis

Monthly sampling from November 2014 to October 2015 (at three sites) was undertaken to evaluate the community structure of macroinvertebrates in relation to the dynamics of water quality parameters. All three sites (S1, S2, and S3) were identified keeping in view the accessibility, type of substrate and other influencing factors. Thirteen physico-chemical parameters were measured by following the standards methods. Water temperature was measured on the sampling site with the help of centigrade thermometer. Digital turbidity meter (Electronic India Model-331) was used to measure the Turbidity of Prashar lake. Toshcon Multiparameter Analyzer was used to analyze the conductivity, pH and total dissolved solids (TDS) of the water sample. Turbidity was measured by the use of Digital Turbidity Meter (Electronic India Model-331). Dissolved oxygen (DO) was estimated on the sampling site by the Winkler,s Idometric Method. Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), alkalinity, Total Hardness (TH), Chloride were measured by following the standard methods of APHA (2005). Nitrates concentration was analyzed spectrophotometrically at 410 nm wavelength and phosphates at 690 nm by UV–Vis spectrophotometer (Systonic Model-117). Sodium and potassium were estimated by the use of Electronic India Digital Flame Photometer (Model-1381 E).

The anthropogenic activities were not seen much inside the lake, because it was fully fenced. But it was also observed that the outside activities disturbed the aquatic life. The site S1, S2, and S3 are characterized by marshy, pebbles and gravel substrate. More macrophytic vegetation and the stony substrate was observed at S3 as compared to S1 and S2. A great dominance of Saccharum munja Roxb. and Acorus calamus were noticed at this site.

Macro-invertebrates were collected from all three identified sampling sites of Prashar lake. Macroinvertebrates colonizing the bottom substrates were collected with the help of the Surber Sampler (0.50 mm mesh net) and by hand-picking from boulders and stones. Quantitative estimation of macroinvertebrates was based on numerical counting i.e., units per square meter (ind.m−2). The macroinvertebrates were preserved in 4% formalin. These macroinvertebrates were identified to the lowest possible taxonomic level and counted. The qualitative analyses of macroinvertebrates samples were made with the help of Needham and Needham (1962); Hynes (1971); Macan (1974); Elliott et al. (1988); Wallace et al. (1990); Ward and Whipple (1992); Edington and Hilldrew (1995) and standard keys of Freshwater Biological Association, (UK) for assessing the community structure and diversity in macroinvertebrates.

Statistical analysis

Shannon–Wiener diversity index was applied to the macroinvertebrates data set. This is very useful and most widely used method for the assessment of a community structure (Washington 1984). The diversity index (‘H’) was used to evaluate the species relative abundance. The Shannon–Wiener diversity index evaluates the species richness and their abundance. The index values range from 0 to 5, high index value shows higher diversity, whereas the low index value shows low diversity. To evaluate the particular biodiversity richness of macroinvertebrates, Shannon–Weiner diversity index was estimated for every season for each site. Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA) was applied to the analysis of data using the PAST software. Pearson’s correlation coefficient was calculated between the macroinverbrates and physico chemical parameters with the help of SPSS software. The purpose of the study was to determine seasonal variations of the abundance and species diversity of macroinvertebrates in relation to certain physico-chemicals variables of Prashar lake.


Macroinvertebrates diversity

A total of 25 species from nine major groups of macroinvertebrates were identified. Maximum contribution to total macroinvertebrates was made by Diptera (17%), followed by Ephemeroptera (14%), Gastropoda (12%), Coleoptera (11%) Hemiptera (10%), Annelida (10%), Trichoptera (9%), Odonata (9%) and Plecoptera (8%) (Fig. 2).
Fig. 2

Percentage composition of macroinvertebrates community in Prashar lake

Monthly variations in the density of macroinvertebrates showed that maximum density (374 ind m−2) of macroinvertebrates was recorded at S3 during the winter month and minimum (80 ind m−2) at S1 during the monsoon month. The density of Diptera was found to be maximum during monsoon (208 ind m−2) at S1 and minimum (51 ind m−2) during winter at S3. Diptera was represented by 4 species (Chironomus sp., Dixa sp., Tendipes sp. and Simulium sp.).The density of Ephemeroptera was found to be maximum (241 ind m−2) during winter at S3 and minimum (1 ind m−2) during monsoon at S2. Ephemeroptera was represented by three species (Hexagenia sp., Ephemera sp. and Ephemerella sp.). The density of Gastropoda was found maximum (49 ind m−2) at S2 during winter and minimum (49 ind m−2) at S1 during the summer month. Gastropoda was represented by only one species (Gyraulus sp.). The density of Annelida was found to be maximum (65 ind m−2) during winter at S1 and minimum (2 ind m−2) during summer at S2. Annelida was represented by two species (Tubifex sp. and Erpobdella sp.). The density of Hemiptera was found to be maximum (80 ind m−2) during winter at S3 and minimum (5 ind m−2) at S1 during summer season. Hemiptera was represented by two species (Gerris sp. and Hydrometra sp.). The density of Coleoptera was found maximum (95 ind m−2) during summer at S2 and minimum (15 ind m−2) during monsoon at S1. Coleoptera was represented by three species (Bagous sp., Orectochilus sp. and Hydaticus sp.). The density of Odonata was found to be maximum (157 ind m−2) during the winter season at S3 and minimum (22 ind m−2) during the summer season at S2. Odonata was represented by four species (Ceriagrion sp., Crocothemis servilia sp., Enallagma sp., and Ischnura aurora sp.). The density of Trichoptera was found maximum (204 ind m−2) during winter at S3 and completely absent during monsoon season at all the sites. Trichoptera was represented by four species (Economus sp., Hydroptila sp., Limnephilus sp, and Molanna sp.). The density of Plecoptera was found to be maximum (58 ind m−2) during winter at S3 and minimum (1 ind m−2) during monsoon at S1. Plecoptera was represented by two species (Perla sp. and Isoperla sp.).

Canonical correlation analysis

CCA represents and analyzes the variations in community assemblage measured by observing the relationship between the biotic community and environmental variables. CCA has been drawn between 14 physico-chemical parameters and 25 species of macro-invertebrates dwelling in the Prashar lake. Eigenvalue for axis 1 (0.167) explained 44.98% correlation; and eigenvalue (0.105) of axis 2 explained 28.4% correlation between physico-chemical parameters. Hexagenia sp., Ephemera sp., Ephemerella sp., Economus sp., Hydroptila sp., Limnephilus sp., Molanna sp. Erpobdella sp., Ceriagrion sp., Crocothemis sp., Economus sp., Perla sp., and Isoperla sp. were positively significant on Axis 1 whereas, Chironomous sp., Dixa sp., Tubifex sp., and Bagous sp. were negative relation on axis 1. DO and pH were positive with axis 1 whereas water temperature, EC, BOD, chlorides, and sodium were negative at Axis 1. Tendipes sp., Simulium sp., Economus sp., Orectochilus sp., and Bagous sp. were positive on axis 2. Alkalinity, chloride was positive at axis 2. Erpobdella sp., Gyraulus sp., Enallagma sp., Ischnura aurora sp., and Hydaticus sp. were negative at axis 2. TDS, nitrates and phosphates showed negative values at axis 2 (Fig. 3).
Fig. 3

CCA biplot between physico-chemical variables and macroinvertebrates species (Hex Hexagenia sp., Eph Ephemera sp., Epm Ephemerella sp., Chi Chironomous, Di Dixa, Ten Tendipes, Sim Simulium, Eco Economus sp., Hyd Hydroptila sp., Lim Limnephilus sp., Mol Molanna sp., Tub Tubifex sp., Ger Gerris sp., Hyd Hydrometra, Erp Erpobdella sp., Gyr Gyraulus sp., Cer Ceriagrion sp., Cor Crocothemis servilia, Ena Enallagma sp., Isc Ischnura aurora, Bag Bagous sp., Ore Orectochilus sp., Hyt Hydaticus sp., Pe Perla sp., Isop Isoperla sp.)

Pearson’s correlation coefficient

Ephemeroptera were inversely related with the water temperature (− 0.898, p < 0.01), turbidity (− 0.865, p < 0.01), EC (− 0.908, p < 0.01), TDS (− 0.894, p < 0.01), BOD (− 0.809, p < 0.01) and sodium (− 0.923, p < 0.01); whereas, Ephemeroptera showed positive relation with pH (0.966, p < 0.01) and DO (0.808, p < 0.01). Trichoptera were negatively correlated with water temperature (− 0.838, p < 0.01), turbidity (− 0.784, p < 0.01), TDS (− 0.826, p < 0.01), BOD (− 0.818, p < 0.01), EC (− 0.931, p < 0.01) and potassium (− 0.907, p < 0.01). Trichoptera and Plecoptera were positively related with pH, DO and Ephemeroptera. Annelida was inversely related to water temperature (− 0.745, p < 0.01) and chlorides (− 0.791, p < 0.01). Whereas, Annelida were positively related to pH (0.724, p < 0.01) and DO (0.760, p < 0.01) (Table 1). Odonata was also positively related with pH and DO. Diptera was inversely related DO. Whereas, Coleoptera, Hemiptera, and Gastropoda did not show any significant relation with physico-chemical parameters.
Table 1

Correlation coefficients computed between physico-chemical variables and density of macro-invertebrates in Prashar lake



















− 0.898**

− 0.865**


− 0.908**


− 0.894**

− 0.809**

− 0.123

− 0.689*

− 0.762**

− 0.728**

− 0.717**

− 0.662*

− 0.574

− 0.923**

− 0.947**



− 0.099



− 0.536

− 0.242





− 0.528

− 0.36






− 0.838**

− 0.784**


− 0.931**


− 0.826**

− 0.818**

− 0.269

− 0.695*

− 0.718**

− 0.660*

− 0.730**

− 0.634*

− 0.626*

− 0.832**

− 0.907**


− 0.311

− 0.181


− 0.600*


− 0.337

− 0.564

− 0.169

− 0.562

− 0.497

− 0.111

− 0.51

− 0.515

− 0.501

− 0.341

− 0.393


− 0.745**

− 0.477


− 0.581*


− 0.374

− 0.549

− 0.614*

− 0.645*

− 0.791**

− 0.173

− 0.35

− 0.763**

− 0.339

− 0.754**

− 0.538


− 0.321



− 0.07



− 0.05

− 0.732**

− 0.663*

− 0.618*



− 0.701*

− 0.464

− 0.318



− 0.691*

− 0.56


− 0.655*


− 0.523

− 0.5

− 0.411

− 0.791**

− 0.774**

− 0.4

− 0.44

− 0.717**

− 0.718**

− 0.721**

− 0.649*



− 0.02

− 0.183


− 0.318

− 0.129





− 0.247

− 0.27


− 0.029




− 0.716**

− 0.640


− 0.878**


− 0.722**

− 0.801**

− 0.274

− 0.643*

− 0.618*

− 0.542

− 0.557

− 0.592

− 0.572

− 0.657*

− 0.805**

EP Ephemeroptera, DI Diptera, TRI Trichoptera, HEM Hemiptera, ANN Annelida, GAS Gastropoda, ODO Odonata, COL Coleoptera, PLE Plecoptera

*Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (two-tailed)

**Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (two-tailed)

Diversity index

Shannon–Wiener Index values were recorded highest (3.07) during winter at S3 and lowest (2.11) during monsoon season at S1. The Shannon–Wiener diversity index signifies as the scale of water quality if the diversity index is greater than (> 4), it means water is clear; if the diversity index is between 3 and 4, it means water is mildly polluted; diversity indices between the range 2–3 indicates the water as moderately polluted. If the diversity index is less than 2 means the water is polluted (Shekhar et al. 2008; Shanthala et al. 2008). Shannon–Wiener diversity index of macroinvertebrates diversity ranged from 2.11–3.04 at S1, 2.20–3.06 at S2 and 2.33–3.07 at S3 (Table 2).
Table 2

Seasonal variations of Shannon–Wiener diversity index of macro-invertebrates dwelling at different sites (S1, S2 and S3) of the Prashar lake

Sampling sites

























The data on seasonal variations in physico-chemical parameters of Prashar lake have been presented in Table 3. The water temperature was recorded minimum (7.60 °C) at all sites during the winter season and maximum (19.70 °C) in the summer season at S1. Water temperature showed the negative correlation with DO (r = − 933), whereas it showed a positive correlation with BOD (r = 904). Minimum (6.90 mg l−1) concentration of DO was recorded during the summer season at S1 and maximum (11.85 mg l−1) during the winter season at S3. The minimum concentration of DO during the summer season may be due to a high metabolic rate of life forms during the summer season (Edmondson 1965; Tara et al. 2011; Sharma and Walia 2015). Rawat and Sharma (2005) also recorded a high concentration of DO during winter months and low concentration during summer months in Deoria Tal. The turbidity was recorded maximum (2.78 NTU) at S1 and S2 during monsoon season and minimum (1.17 NTU) at S3 during the winter season. Maximum concentration (93.23 mg l−1) of TDS was found in monsoon season at S1 and minimum concentration (21.71 mg l−1) at S3. TDS showed a positive correlation (r = 940) with turbidity. BOD of Prashar lake was found maximum (1.12 mg l−1) at S1 and S2 during monsoon season and minimum (0.41 mg l−1) at S3 during the winter season. BOD always showed a negative correlation with DO. The maximum pH value (7.39) was recorded at S3 during winter and minimum (6.50) during monsoon season at S1. Dhanalakshmi et al. (2013) found that the excessive microbial decomposition increased production of CO2 which in turn decreases the pH of water mainly during monsoon season. The maximum concentration of alkalinity (87.28 mg l−1) was reported at S3 and minimum (69.60 mg l−1) at S2 in Prashar lake in monsoon season. The maximum concentration of TH (35.55 mg l−1) was recorded in summer at S1; whereas, minimum concentration (21.38 mg l−1) was recorded at S2 during winter. The higher concentration of TH during summer may be due to the higher temperature, resulting in the increased concentration of salts by excessive evaporation (Khan and Chowdhury 1994). The maximum chloride (16.15 mg l−1) concentration was recorded at S1 and minimum (9.57 mg l−1) in winter at S3. The nitrates concentration was found maximum (0.290 mg l−1) during monsoon season at S1 and minimum (0.070 mg l−1) at S3 during the winter season. Maximum concentrations of phosphates (0.040 mg l−1) was recorded in monsoon season at S1 and minimum (0.020 mg l−1) during the winter season at all sites in the Prashar lake. The value of sodium concentration was recorded maximum (0.86 mg l−1) at S1 during the summer season and minimum (0.33 mg l−1) at S3 during the winter season. The concentration of potassium was found maximum (0.75 mg l−1) at S1 in monsoon season and minimum (0.23 mg l−1) in the winter season at S1 and S2. Thus, the overall trend of physico-chemical parameters in the study area revealed that water quality was recorded low during the monsoon season, this has been due to the entering of waste from the catchment area of the lake. The quality of water is much influenced at the site S1, due to the entering of maximum runoff at this site and less influenced at the site S3 (Kumari and Sharma 2018).
Table 3

Seasonal variation of physico-chemical variables (\(\overline{{\text{X}}}\) ± S.D.) of Prashar lake during November 2014 to October 2015








(\(\overline{{\text{X}}}\) ± S.D.)

(\(\overline{{\text{X}}}\) ± S.D.)

(\(\overline{{\text{X}}}\) ± S.D.)

(\(\overline{{\text{X}}}\) ± S.D.)

(\(\overline{{\text{X}}}\) ± S.D.)

Water Temperature (°C)


7.6 ± 1.53

14 ± 3.11

19.7 ± 0.99

17.7 ± 1.56

15.15 ± 3.04



7.6 ± 1.53

13.9 ± 3.11

19.6 ± 0.85

17.7 ± 1.56

15.1 ± 3.11



7.6 ± 1.53

13.9 ± 3.11

19.6 ± 0.56

17.75 ± 1.62

15.1 ± 3.11

DO (mg l−1)


11.71 ± 1.04

9.33 ± 1.74

6.9 ± 0.81

8.4 ± 0.28

10.05 ± 0.64



11.82 ± 1.06

9.03 ± 1.24

7.07 ± 0.72

8.7 ± 0.55

10.09 ± 0.69



11.85 ± 1.06

9.07 ± 1.23

7.1 ± 0.7

8.72 ± 0.53

10.13 ± 0.67

Turbidity (NTU)


1.18 ± 0.27

1.76 ± 0.14

2.17 ± 0.13

2.78 ± 0.48

2.17 ± 0.69



1.19 ± 0.25

1.6 ± 0.09

2.22 ± 0.13

2.78 ± 0.53

2.13 ± 0.83



1.17 ± 0.25

1.57 ± 0.05

2.25 ± 0.13

2.77 ± 0.49

2.06 ± 0.76

TDS (mg l−1)


22 ± 7.3

30.16 ± 4.75

47.68 ± 7.7

93.23 ± 7.31

54.55 ± 16



21.72 ± 6.79

30.08 ± 4.8

48.05 ± 8.25

92.34 ± 8.49

54 ± 16.65



21.71 ± 6.79

30.08 ± 4.8

69.28 ± 24.12

90.61 ± 10.92

54.32 ± 16.21

BOD (mg l−1)


0.48 ± 0.07

0.74 ± 0.08

1.08 ± 0.3

1.12 ± 0.28

0.68 ± 0.08



0.5 ± 0.56

0.76 ± 0.09

1.05 ± 0.28

1.12 ± 0.35

0.68 ± 0.05



0.41 ± 0.04

0.72 ± 0.09

0.92 ± 0.16

0.93 ± 0.26

0.63 ± 0.08



7.39 ± 0.37

6.96 ± 0.08

6.69 ± 0.22

6.53 ± 0.02

6.68 ± 0.08



7.38 ± 0.37

6.98 ± 0.11

6.66 ± 0.2

6.52 ± 0.04

6.66 ± 0.08



7.39 ± 0.37

6.96 ± 0.06

6.65 ± 0.23

6.54 ± 0.02

6.66 ± 0.1

Alkalinity (mg l−1)


71.45 ± 2.78

87.11 ± 1.05

85.26 ± 6.74

69.63 ± 4.56

74.23 ± 5.39



71.48 ± 2.84

87.12 ± 1.3

85.27 ± 6.74

69.6 ± 4.53

74.45 ± 5.87



71.46 ± 2.85

87.28 ± 1.28

85.32 ± 6.7

69.62 ± 4.5

74.47 ± 5.88

Hardness (mg l−1)


22.93 ± 1.1

29.43 ± 7.67

35.55 ± 2.46

28.83 ± 1.73

24.83 ± 0.98



21.37 ± 1.01

27.9 ± 7.64

34.01 ± 2.44

27.32 ± 1.73

23.26 ± 0.98



21.38 ± 1.02

27.92 ± 7.63

33.99 ± 2.45

27.36 ± 1.74

23.29 ± 0.99

Chloride (mg l−1)


9.62 ± 1.00

12.23 ± 1.70

16.15 ± 1.01

12.51 ± 0.39

11.55 ± 0.21



9.60 ± 0.97

12.21 ± 1.68

16.13 ± 1.03

12.49 ± 0.35

11.55 ± 0.14



9.57 ± 0.96

12.21 ± 1.71

16.09 ± 1.02

12.46 ± 0.35

11.53 ± 0.13

Nitrates (mg l−1)


0.08 ± 0.02

0.08 ± 0.01

0.11 ± 0.03

0.29 ± 0.09

0.2 ± 0.07



0.07 ± 0.03

0.08 ± 0.01

0.11 ± 0.02

0.29 ± 0.1

0.19 ± 0.07



0.07 ± 0.02

0.07 ± 0.01

0.11 ± 0.01

0.28 ± 0.09

0.2 ± 0.07

Phosphates (mg l−1)


0.02 ± 0

0.02 ± 0

0.02 ± 0

0.04 ± 0

0.02 ± 0.01



0.02 ± 0

0.02 ± 0

0.02 ± 0

0.03 ± 0

0.02 ± 0.01



0.02 ± 0

0.02 ± 0

0.02 ± 0

0.03 ± 0

0.02 ± 0.1

Calcium (mg l−1)


6.01 ± 0.46

7.21 ± 1.27

9.57 ± 0.06

6.92 ± 0.83

6.73 ± 0.13



5.94 ± 0.4

7.24 ± 1.2

9.55 ± 0.70

6.92 ± 0.74

6.7 ± 0.14



5.94 ± 0.4

7.24 ± 1.2

6.88 ± 0.75

6.92 ± 0.74

6.73 ± 0.15

Magnesium (mg l−1)


1.92 ± 0.1

2.78 ± 1.1

2.83 ± 0.63

2.81 ± 0.09

1.95 ± 0.16



1.59 ± 0.12

2.39 ± 1.13

2.39 ± 1.13

2.44 ± 0.03

1.59 ± 0.15



1.59 ± 0.12

2.39 ± 1.13

2.39 ± 1.13

2.44 ± 0.03

1.59 ± 0.15

Sodium (mg l−1)


0.35 ± 0.1

0.55 ± 0.13

0.86 ± 0.03

0.75 ± 0.01

0.66 ± 0.18



0.34 ± 0.1

0.53 ± 0.15

0.84 ± 0.03

0.74 ± 0.01

0.64 ± 0.16



0.36 ± 0.1

0.51 ± 0.14

0.85 ± 0.03

0.74 ± 0.03

0.65 ± 0.16

Potassium (mg l−1)


0.25 ± 0.07

0.43 ± 0.08

0.59 ± 0.06

0.75 ± 0.05

0.5 ± 0.06



0.23 ± 0.05

0.41 ± 0.1

0.6 ± 0.04

0.74 ± 0.05

0.5 ± 0.05



0.23 ± 0.05

0.37 ± 0.06

0.56 ± 0.06

0.74 ± 0.01

0.5 ± 0.07

The study on the macroinvertebrates dwelling in the Prashar lake revealed that the minimum density was found during the monsoon season (July–August). It started increasing in autumn season and remained high up to the onset of the summer season. The density of macroinvertebrates was influenced by the growth of riparian vegetation, suitable bottom substrates, and water level fluctuations. A fluctuation in water level was recorded at every site during summer and monsoon seasons. In summer, the wetted perimeter of 452 m and the 1.1 ha area was recorded. And in monsoon season wetted perimeter was 529 m and area 1.30 ha was recorded during the study. During summer season at S1, S2 and S3 depth of 1.34 m, 1.45 m and 1.12 m were recorded respectively. However, during monsoon season at S1, S2 and S3, depth of 2.68 m, 2.75 m and 1.95 m respectively, was recorded, which significantly influence the diversity and density of the macroinvertebrates. The fluctuations in water level are a remarkable factors for the lake ecosystem (Gopal 1994). The water level fluctuations were very frequent during monsoon season but it remained low during the winter season. High abundance at S3 was also observed because the biodiversity of the macrovertebrates is low in fluid mud and sand and high in stable cobble and gravel beds (Beauger et al. 2006; Duan et al. 2009). It is also observed that riparian vegetation provides protection from predators and favorable environment for the growth of algae which is a good food source for macroinvertebrates (Krull 1970; Sharma and Rawat 2009; Gupta 2013). Due to this strong bounded structure and stable substrates attract benthic fauna (Lancaster and Hildrew 1993; Rempel et al. 1999) and these structures showed maximum density at site S3. Therefore, stable substrate plays a major role in presence of maximum species diversity and abundance (Hynes 1971; Scarsbrook and Townsend 1993; Death and Winterbourn 1995). Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera (EPT) intolerant to the pollution were found maximum during the winter season and low during monsoon season. The dominance of Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera (EPT) during study represents the healthy and stable environmental condition recorded at S3 at the Prashar lake. Ephemeroptera is considered an indicator species. Their presence plays a major role in assessing the health of aquatic biodiversity (Dolis and Dohet 2003). Ephemeroptera prefers high DO and clean freshwater (Tonapi 1980; Emere and Nasiru CE 2009; Sharma and Dhanze 2012). Trichoptera was absent during the monsoon season at all the sites. Ephemeroptera and Plecoptera were also seen minimum during monsoon season. Plecoptera mostly recorded in cool and clean aquatic habitats. Plecoptera is highly sensitive to environmental degradation (Fore et al. 1996; Graf et al. 2002). They are mostly absent from polluted aquatic habitat. This may be the reason for low density of Plecoptera during monsoon season. The density of Plecoptera and Trichoptera was found to be maximum during winter at S3 and absent during monsoon season. However, Diptera was found maximum in monsoon and minimum in winter which showed the degraded water quality condition during the monsoon season. It is also observed that low concentration of oxygen during monsoon months resulted in the decrease in macro-invertebrates as also reported by Chang (2002) and Ishaq and Khan (2013). During the study it was also observed that the maximum turbidity effects the density of macroinvertebrate (Blettler et al. 2016). The maximum density of Diptera indicates low water quality (Masese et al. 2013). However, some tolerant species were identified during monsoon season in the Prashar lake. These tolerant species were Chironomous sp., Dixa sp., Tendipes sp., and Simulium sp. which were found abundant during monsoon season. The variation in the density of Chironomidae represents the oxygen concentration in the aquatic ecosystem. These species were also found in the muddy bottom to the sandy substrate. Similar findings were also supported by Petr (1972) and Balachandran and Ramachandra (2010). Shannon–Wiener diversity index represents maximum diversity index during winter and minimum during monsoon seasons. Water temperature, DO, pH, EC, turbidity, BOD, TDS and nitrates are the physico-chemical parameters which influence the macroinvertebrate distribution in lake water (Mabidi et al. 2017).

Factors affecting the Prashar lake ecosystem

During the study, it was observed that there was no anthropogenic activity inside the lake. But, there were multiple disturbances in the watershed of the lake, which may influence the pristine ecosystem of the Prashar lake. Following natural and anthropogenic threats have been identified, which cause degradation of the lacustrine ecosystem of the sacred lake Prashar. Because of the beauty and sacredness of the Prashar lake and to see the floating island, this lake attracts lots of attraction in India and abroad. During the festival time, a high influx of pilgrims and tourists is the common feature. Soil erosion is one of the important problems, as this lake is located in the depression, and there is no tree cover around the lake. Therefore, the soil from the surrounding areas enters the lake which may degrade the water quality. This in turn causes turbidity inside the lake and affects the living creatures of the lake. The overgrazing by the domestic cattle of local inhabitants and Gujjar tribe of the area trigger the soil erosion in the riparian zone of the Prashar lake. Environmental degradation caused by leaving a huge quantity of solid waste is also a problem. During the festival time, a huge amount of solid waste is dumped in the surrounding area of the lake. This degrades the water quality by leaching of toxins from the waste materials and affects the riparian vegetation and natural habitat of aquatic organisms dwelling in the lacustrine ecosystem.

Measures for the conservation and management of Prashar lake

Conservation and management of biodiversity of Prashar lake are necessary for the sustainable management and regular functioning of the lacustrine ecosystem. Various measures for the conservation and management of the biodiversity of Prashar lake have been suggested.

The lacustrine ecosystem of the Prashar lake supports rich diversity of medicinal plants (terrestrial and aquatic). These medicinal plants can be conserved through ex situ conservation by living collections outside their natural habitat. Basically, the ex situ conservation of biodiversity require scientific guidelines. Thus, it can be carried on an experimental basis. In-situ conservation comprises the protection of aquatic living communities in their natural habitat. The biodiversity of Prashar lake can be improved by providing them a proper shelter or cover by placing the boulders, pebbles, and rubbles for creating conducive interstitial spaces. The aquatic living communities can easily survive in these habitats. Regular environmental monitoring of the Prashar lake is important to maintain the health of the lacustrine ecosystem. Regular monitoring will help to identify the species that can act as bioindicator which can be important for sustainable conservation and management. Proper and regular dredging of silt should be made with the assistance of hydrologists. Appropriate measures must be taken for controlling the exorbitant growth of macrophytes, which are rapidly changing the wetland into the marsh. Damaged and degraded aquatic ecosystem of Prashar lake should be restored. Some management practices such as the establishment of riparian buffer zones and the regulation of water level can be applied for restoration of the freshwater ecosystem of the Prsahar lake.

Prashar lake catchment area is a scrubland where vegetation cover is very less. There is a need to convert this area into a dense green vegetation cover. The vegetation cover will help to retain the surface runoff through absorption during the monsoon season, and also protect the aquatic diversity. Public awareness programmes should be conducted by the government and non-government organizations (NGOs) where they can promote public awareness among the local people about the vulnerability and importance of aquatic ecosystem. Prashar lake is one of the popular tourist places due to its unique beauty. Tourist activities like the dumping of solid waste, leftover food, and packing materials in the surrounding area of the lake cause lots of disturbances in the lacustrine ecosystem. It should be managed by providing dustbins in the surrounding area for degradable and non-degradable wastes. Local people can play an important role in the conservation and management of this aquatic ecosystem. Active involvement and participation of the local people can be instrumental for effective conservation of biodiversity and management of Prashar lake. These efforts should be integrated with the involvement of every stakeholder-government, non-government organizations, gram panchayat functionaries, administrators, and local inhabitants. The research programmes on aquatic biodiversity should be promoted by the government and appropriate techniques can be developed to conserve the aquatic biodiversity of Prashar lake. Some indicator organisms can play an important role in assessing the health of the ecosystem of Prashar lake.


The seasonal effect on macroinvertebrate is seen maximum during the monsoon season which affects the density and diversity of these organisms. The main factor which disturb the lake  are water fluctuation, soil erosion due to overgrazing and leaching of the waste material into the water body. Basically, the surrounding landscape of the lake has been in a bowl shape, due to this during monsoon season surrounding runoff easily enters into the lake and this affects the aquatic ecosystem. The more affected site is S1 because maximum activities occur around this site as compared to sites S2 and S3. The site S3 was the least disturbed site. The site S3 is located at very steep slope terrain side of the lake due to which grazing activity was less and tourist activity was not much on this side of the lake. Therefore, entering of waste was also less as compared to S1. The study concludes that the Prasher lake is a high altitude sacred lake which holds rich and unique biodiversity. To maintain the ecological equilibrium and sustainability of this lake, conservation and management strategies as described above should be implemented effectively.



The corresponding author is thankful to University Grants Commission and H.N.B. Garhwal (A Central University) for providing Central University fellowship for undertaking the present work.


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Copyright information

© Society for Environmental Sustainability 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental SciencesH.N.B. Garhwal University (A Central University)Srinagar-GarhwalIndia

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