Wetlands are among the most diverse and productive ecosystems, providing numerous ecological, economic, and social benefits to society. Wetlands provide vital ecosystem services and processes, such as nutrient cycling, water purification, reducing pollution, carbon sequestration, groundwater recharge, flood reduction, erosion control, and habitats for aquatic flora/fauna, opportunities for education, aesthetics, and recreation. Wetlands help to conserve biodiversity by providing habitat for fish, planktons, aquatic plants, insects, and crustaceans, as well as feeding and resting areas for water birds. Food chains/food webs describe the structure of communities inhabiting a particular ecosystem and the associated energy as well as nutrient flows, and the interactions between species. Wetlands also aid in remediation through removal of nutrients (like nitrate, phosphate, etc.) and heavy metals from water.
The current Issue of Sahyadri E News (Issue LXXXI) presents the valuation of ecosystem services provided by ichthyofauna in the wetlands of Uttara Kannada district, Karnataka.Freshwater fishes are an essential ecological link in the food chain, indicators of the health of aquatic ecosystems, a major source of protein in the human diet, and have recreational, educational, and scientific value. The diversity of ichthyofauna (fish) and their health increase the productivity and value of aquatic ecosystems. Wetlands, habitat of ichthyofauna provide numerous valuable ecosystem services such as provisioning, regulating, and cultural services.