Scientists have reported six new water beetles responsible for nutrient recycling and natural food web from Manipur for the first time in India.

Though the new water beetles reported from wetlands in Manipur are scientifically known as Elmomophes brevicornis, Enochrus nigropiceus, Helochares atropiceus, Chasmogenus abnormalis, Paracymus Sp. and Hydrocanthus guinuoti, they are locally known as Tharakoikpi macha.

These new water beetles were detected and identified during the course of a three-year study on importance of aquatic beetles (coleoptera), in freshwater eco-systems of Manipur by Dr M Bhubaneshwari Devi, a zoology teacher in Manipur’s premier DM College of Science in association with senior research fellow O Sandhyarani.

According to senior research fellow Sandhyarani, they recorded 65 water beetles belonging to coleoptera order from nine wetland sites under eight districts during their study which concludes in December, 2017. Of them 22 water beetles belong to different families were reported for the first time in Manipur. The said nine wetland sites in Manipur are Porompat, Lamphelpat, Lousipat, Loktakpat, Leimaram, Thawai, Noney, Moreh and Tuibong.

The aquatic beetles are an important part of most aquatic ecosystems both in larval and adult stages and they are responsible for nutrient recycling and natural food web in the freshwater eco-systems besides functioning as bio-indicator (of the wetland water quality), Dr Bhubaneshwari says who led the research team. They also eat water fleas, flatworms, mosquito larvae, frog tadpoles etc.

Sandhyarani, actively involved in the research works on insects in North East India however expressed her desire to explore more aquatic insect world considering its importance in conserving the rich biodiversity of the region.

“We cannot study much on issues relating to climate change impact etc. due to limited resources. Who knows the recent floods might have impacted the aquatic insects a lot,” she said. Manipur has witnessed five times flood since cyclone ‘Mora’ hit the state in May end this year.

In their previous study on diversity of insect fauna in Loktak Lake of Manipur, Dr Bhubaneshwari and Sandhyarani had also reported that many edible aquatic insects are vanishing from Loktak, the largest freshwater lake in North East and natural habitat of around 100 aquatic insects due to the ongoing degradation of the lake’s biodiversity.

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