You are on page 1of 6

Arijit Pal, Somenath Dey and Utpal Singha Roy, 2012.

Seasonal Diversity and Abundance of Herpetofauna in and

ISSN 0126-2807
Around an Industrial City of West Bengal, India.

Vo l u m e 7 , Nu m b e r 4 : 2 81 -2 86 , De c e m b e r , 2 01 2
T2012 Department of Environmental Engineering
Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology, Surabaya
& Indonesian Society of Sanitary and Environmental Engineers, Jakarta
Open Access

International peer-reviewed journal

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License, which permits
unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Research Paper




1Research Scholar, Department of Conservation Biology, Durgapur Government College, JN Avenue,
Durgapur 713214, West Bengal, India.
2Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology, Durgapur Government College, JN Avenue, Durgapur

713214, West Bengal, India.

*Corresponding Author: Phone: +91-956-3790560; Fax: +91-343-2504240; E-mail:

Received: 15th July 2012; Revised: 10th September 2012; Accepted: 14th September 2012

Abstract: Biological diversity intrinsically pedals the functioning and stabilization of

an ecosystem. Among faunal diversity herpetofaunal (amphibians and reptiles)
checklist serve a major role which provide the information of productivity and
community dynamics. The present study was carried out at Durgapur, West Bengal,
India from August 2009 to July 2011 with the objective to register the seasonal
diversity and abundance of herpetofauna in and around the industrial region with
special reference to the anthropogenic interventions. Diverse habitat types were
surveyed applying hand capture, opportunistic spotting, road kill analysis, call survey
and acquiring information from local people. Present survey revealed the richness of
the Durgapur industrial area in its herpetofaunal diversity where 9 species of
amphibians and 24 species of reptiles were recorded in the study area with the
highest abundance observed during the rainy season. Duttaphrynus melanostictus
was the most common amphibian species to register while Mycrohyla ornata was the
rarest. So far as the reptilian diversity is concerned only one species of turtle
(Melanochelys trijuga), eight species of lizards and fifteen snake species were
recorded. An overall negative anthropogenic influence on herpetofaunal diversity,
distribution and abundance was evidenced from the present study and needs further

Keywords: Amphibia, anthropogenic intervention, biodiversity, habitat fragmentation, reptiles

Journal of Applied Sciences in Environmental Sanitation, 7 (4): 281-286.
Arijit Pal, Somenath Dey and Utpal Singha Roy, 2012. Seasonal Diversity and Abundance of Herpetofauna in and
Around an Industrial City of West Bengal, India.


There has been a general trend over geological time scale towards a net increase in
biodiversity but the late Quaternary has been a period of marked decline as a consequence of
anthropogenic intervention [1]. In tropical forests on an average 1800 populations are being
destroyed per hour while 16 million annually [2]! Among all wildlife forms, herpetofaunal
communities are more vulnerable to habitat loss, pollution and various anthropogenic pressures
and hence becoming dwindling all around the world. Consequently most of the herpetofauna
are declining more rapidly than birds and mammals [3] therefore, considered as threatened.
Conservation strategies around the world are often made considering more
conspicuous and glamorous taxa like birds and mammals, which may unnoticeably neglect
smaller and less conspicuous vertebrates such as herpetofauna [4]. Only in recent past there
has been a great consciousness about extinction of herpetofauna globally [5]. The present
pioneer work was carried out to identify the extant population of herpetofauna of Durgapur
industrial region. Moreover, the present study effectively monitored the community level
assemblage and abundance of herpetofauna of this region and investigates the factors most
influential in bringing about the current population declines.


Study area
The present study was carried out at the famous Steel City, Durgapur (Lat. 23o 30' N;
Long. 87 20' E), situated at the north bank of River Damodar, West Bengal, India.
Geographically the city is situated in the juxtaposition of two different geographical regions of
Indian subcontinent, Lower Gangetic Plain and Deccan Peninsula. There are many large and
small scale industries which include Durgapur steel plant, alloy steel plant, battery factory,
Durgapur chemicals, sponge iron factories etc. The city was developed following a definite plan
and as a result quite a few native vegetation and barren land still remains in between industrial
areas and human habitats. Surrounding area of the city is interspaced with agricultural lands
located between the industries and human settlements. So, the present study site unmistakably
has converted to a diverse complex of heterogeneous habitat containing a large quantity of
biodiversity of multiple-taxa.

Fig. 1: Map showing the location of Durgapur city and its surrounding areas that were surveyed
robustly during the present study.

Journal of Applied Sciences in Environmental Sanitation, 7 (4): 281-286.
Arijit Pal, Somenath Dey and Utpal Singha Roy, 2012. Seasonal Diversity and Abundance of Herpetofauna in and
Around an Industrial City of West Bengal, India.

The present study was carried out in and around Durgapur city during August 2009 to July
2011. Considering the fact that a large number of herpetofauna is nocturnal regular diurnal
surveys were systematically done on a monthly basis during the study period. In this present
study we used multiple sampling methods to calculate herpetofaunal diversity following [6]. The
sampling methods followed in the present study were broadly divided into direct sampling
method and indirect sampling method and has been presented in Table 1.

Table1: Different methods used for identification and documentation of diverse herpetofaunal
groups (+ indicate the method applied for particular herpetofaunal group reorganization during
the present study).

Frog & Lizard

Sampling Methods Snake Turtle Comments
Toad & Skink

Hand capturing + + + Simple and most reliable

Extensive searches Applied in the known
+ + + +
in micro habitats habitats
Direct Opportunistic Spotted accidentally or
+ + + +
spotting otherwise unexpectedly
Best results obtained
Road-kill analysis + + + during the early hours
after daybreak
Call survey + Mostly used at night
Acquiring Useful for chronological
information from + + + + comparison of
local people herpetofaunal diversity


After two years of intensive study at Durgapur city and its surrounding areas, we found
thirty three species of herpetofauna which included nine amphibians and twenty four reptile
species. All of the nine amphibians were of the order Salientia (Table 2). Duttaphrynus
melanostictus, Hoplobatrachus tigerinus and Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis were the most common
amphibian species and were spotted frequently almost throughout the year. It was interesting
to note that their abundance were higher in the rainy season when compared with dry season.
Polypedates maculatus was also very commonly spotted during the rainy season. Fejervarya
limnocharis were abundant in almost all the water bodies of the study site and in wet seasons
their abundance increased. Uperodon globulosus and Kaloula taprobanica were tough to locate
as they spend most of their life within burrows and only in first monsoon they were frequently
spotted. The rarest frog from the present study site was Mycrohyla ornata, spotted only twice
during the study period.
A total of twenty four reptile species were recorded during the present study. Among this
whole reptilian community only one species of turtle - Melanochelys trijuga was spotted during
the present study that too with very low frequency. Among the eight members of lizards one
monitor, three geckos, two agamids and two skinks were recorded. Bengal Monitor - Varanus
bengalensis was found in a specialize habitat of Durgapur barrage region. Geckos were very

Journal of Applied Sciences in Environmental Sanitation, 7 (4): 281-286.
Arijit Pal, Somenath Dey and Utpal Singha Roy, 2012. Seasonal Diversity and Abundance of Herpetofauna in and
Around an Industrial City of West Bengal, India.

abundant except Hemidactylus brooki, spotted less frequently than others. Calotes versicolor
density was rich but Psammophilus dorsalis was hard to find (Table 3).

Table 2: Diversity and abundance of amphibian species recorded during the present study
(spotting frequency: VC = very common; C = common; R = rare).
Spotting Relative
Common name Scientific name Local name
frequency abundance
Common Indian toad Kuno Bang VC ++++
Indian bullfrog Sona Bang VC +++
Indian pond frog Euphlyctis hexadactylus Jar Bang C ++
Cricket frog Fejervarya limnocharis China Bang C +++
Euphlyctis Churchure
Indian skipper frog VC ++++
cyanophlyctis Bang
Greater balloon frog Uperodon globulosus R ++
Ornate narrow mouth
Mycrohyla ornata Kath Bang R +
Indian painted frog Kaloula taprobanica C ++
Common Indian tree
Polypedates maculatus Gecho Bang VC ++++

Table 3: Diversity and abundance of reptilian species recorded during the present study
(spotting frequency: VC = very common; C = common; R = rare; VR = very rare).
Spotting Relative
Common name Scientific name Local name
frequency abundance
Indian Pond Terrapin Melanochelys trijuga Kochhop VR +
Northern house gecko Hemidactylus flaviviridis Tik-tiki VC ++++
Southern house gecko Hemidactylus frenatus Tik-tiki VC +++
Brooks gecko Hemidactylus brooki Tik-tiki C ++
Common garden lizard Calotes versicolor Gir-giti VC ++++
Peninsular rock agama Psammophilus dorsalis Rokto-chosa R +
Brahminy skink Mabuya carinata Feu VC ++++
Snake skink Riopa punctatus Saper masi R ++
Common Indian
Varanus bengalensis Go-sanp C ++
Ramphotyphlops Dumukho
Common blind snake C ++
braminus Sanp
Beaked worm snake Rhinotyphlops acutus Talia sanp VC +++
Common sand boa Gongylophis conicus Dhulo bora VR +
Common rat snake Ptyas mucosus Dhamna C +++
Common wolf snake Lycodon capucinus Chal chiti VC ++++
Banded kukri Oligodon arnensis Sankh chiti C +++
Checkered keelback Xenochrophis piscator Dhora sanp VC +++
Olive keelback Atretium schistosum Metuli Sanp C ++
Buff striped keelback Amphiesma stolatum Hele sanp VC ++++
Green vine snake Ahaetulla nasuta Lau-doga VR +
Ornate flying snake Chrysopelea ornata Kal-nagini VR +
Common krait Bungarus caeruleus Domna chiti C ++
Indian cobra Naja naja Gokhura C ++
Monocellated cobra Naja kaouthia Keute C +++
Russells viper Daboia russelli Chandra Bora VC +++

Journal of Applied Sciences in Environmental Sanitation, 7 (4): 281-286.
Arijit Pal, Somenath Dey and Utpal Singha Roy, 2012. Seasonal Diversity and Abundance of Herpetofauna in and
Around an Industrial City of West Bengal, India.

Most of the reptiles recorded during the present study were in the snake group. Among
fifteen snake species four species were venomous to human. It was very interesting to note
that all the venomous species were sharing the habitat effectively with good community health
and the most abundant species recorded during the present study was Daboia russelli. All the
three aquatic keel-back, Ptyas mucosus, and Oligodon arnensis were frequently spotted along
with two blind snakes almost all throughout the year. Gongylophis conicus, Ahaetulla nasuta
and Chrysopelea ornata were spotted rarely accordingly among all the herpetofauna of this
region these three snakes were less abundant.
Annual representation of amphibian, reptiles and as a whole herpetofaunal diversity
showed that herpetofaunal diversity were maximum in rainy season (May-Aug) and minimum in
winter season (Nov-Feb) (Figure 2) which appreciate previous work of [7]. Among all thirty
three herpetofaunal species from the present study site twenty eight species were recorded in
July and only two were noted in December and these findings of month wise distribution pattern
corroborate well with the previous findings of [8].

Fig. 2: Month wise relative distribution of the amphibians, reptiles and herpetofauna as whole
recorded during the present study.

The present study location experiences a climate which is transitional between CWg3 and
AW1 types (according to Koppen Climate Classification), where 'C' stands for 'warm temperate
rainy climates with mild winter', 'W' for 'dry winter not compensated for by total rain in the rest of
the year', 'g3' for 'eastern Ganges type of temperature trend' and 'AW1' for 'tropical savannah
climates'. Average rainfall is about 150 millimeters, mercury rises even 48 C in summer and
the recorded minimum temperature in winter is 4 C. All the herpetofaunal species are cold-
blooded accordingly during winter they hibernate in their burrows or resting places, which was
the cause behind their minimum diversity in the winter season. Due to favorable environmental
condition, monsoon is the breeding season for most of the herpetofaunal species which leads
to their maximum diversity in rainy season.
Like other urban industrial areas around the world, Durgapur industrial area also has
immense anthropogenic pressure which is leading to the decline of herpetofaunal population
vigorously. Information acquired from the common people was confirmatory of this fact that
herpetofaunal population indeed is being decreasing incessantly. Degradation and filling of
wetlands is the major reason for amphibian population loss. Moreover, Habitat fragmentation
and loss due to urbanization also has direct adverse affect on amphibian community [9]. Due to
heavy pollution loads various morphological abnormalities were also noted within herpetofaunal

Journal of Applied Sciences in Environmental Sanitation, 7 (4): 281-286.
Arijit Pal, Somenath Dey and Utpal Singha Roy, 2012. Seasonal Diversity and Abundance of Herpetofauna in and
Around an Industrial City of West Bengal, India.

community of the study site during the present investigation and these findings corroborate well
with those of [10]. Local people were found to kill the snakes (both venomous and non-
venomous) due to lack of knowledge and fear of being bitten and also were found to kill turtles
and monitors for their fresh flesh and skins [11]. All these factors were found to exert a negative
pressure over the herpetofaunal community from the present study location leading to its
constant decrease.


Thirty three herpetofaunal species were tabulated after completion of study from the
present study location. In an industrial urban region like Durgapur such type of herpetofaunal
diversity indicates healthy overall biodiversity. But the risks to the herpetofaunal community are
excessively immense to be ignored and several factors were recognized during the present
investigation responsible for their population decline. It is a great anticipation to us that the
scenario is changing steadily due to community effort of some common people along with
Governmental help. Although the conclusions are made based on the results of the present
study, we recommend more research be carried out in near future from the present study

Acknowledgements: Authors are thankful to the local inhabitants of Durgapur for their immense and
unconditional help and cooperation. Authors thankfully acknowledge the financial support extended by
the Director of Public Instruction, Government of West Bengal, Kolkata. Authors are also thankful to Dr.
D. Palit, Officer-in-Charge, Durgapur Government College for his keen interest and support in the
present study.

1. Gaston, K. J. and J. I. Spicer, 2004. Biodiversity: An Introduction, 2nd Edition. Wiley-Blackwell.
2. Hughes, J. B., G. C. Daily and P. R. Ehrlich, 1997. Population diversity: its extent and extinction.
Science, 278: 689-692.
3. Stuart, S. N., J. S. Chanson, N. A. Cox, B. E. Young, A. S. L. Rodrigues, D. L. Fischman and R. W.
Waller, 2004. Status and trends of amphibian declines and extinctions worldwide.
Science, 306: 1783-1786.
4. Vasudevan, K., A. Kumar and R. Chellam, 2006. Species turnover: the case of stream amphibians
of rainforests in the Western Ghats, southern India. Biodiversity and Conservation, 15:
5. Reid, G. M. and K. C. Zipple, 2008. Can zoos and aquarium ensure the survival of amphibians in
the 21st century? International Zoo Yearbook, 42: 1-6.
6. Sutherland, W. J. 2006. Ecological census techniques- a handbook, 2nd edition, Cambridge
University Press.
7. Halliday, T. 2001. The wider implications of amphibian population declines. Oryx, 35: 181-182.
8. Heatwole, H. 1982. A review of structuring in herpetofaunal assemblages. In: Herpetological
Communities, Ed: Scott N. J. United States Fish and Wildlife Research Report 13.
Washington, D.C.
9. Dutta, S. K. 1989. On the mass killing of the dog-faced water snake (Cerberus rhynchops) in the
Chilika lake, Orissa. Hamadryad, 14 (2): 27-28.
10. Mohanty-Hejmadi, P. and S. K. Dutta, 1981. Effects of some pesticides on the development of the
Indian bull frog, Rana tigerina Daudin. Environ. Pollut, Great Britain. (Ser: A), 24: 145-
11. Chhetry, D. T. 2010. Diversity of herpetofauna in and around the Koshi Tappu wildlife reserve.
Bibechana, 6: 15-17.

Journal of Applied Sciences in Environmental Sanitation, 7 (4): 281-286.