UPSC Ecology And Environment Biodiversity Conservation And Wild Life Notes - Biodiversity

Notes - Biodiversity

Category : UPSC

 

Biodiversity

 

Introduction

Biodiversity mean us diversity of heterogeneity at all levels of biological organisation, i.e from micro molecules of the cells to the biomass. The word biodiversity was postulated by the sociologist E.D. Wilson. Biodiversity is commonly used to replace the more clearly and long established terms, species diversity and species richness. Biologist define biodiversity in “totality of genes”, species and ecosystems of region.

 

 

 

This results in existence of a wide variety of plant and animal species in their natural environments, which is the conservationists. Who are mainly concerned about indiscriminate destruction of rainforests and other habitats?

 

Important Levels of Biodiversity

  1. Genetic diversity

It is the diversity at genetic level, or at sub-species level below species level, in a single species. The genetic diversity helps the population to adapt. If a population has more diversity which means, it can adapt better to the changed environmental conditions. The low diversity leads to uniformity. The genetic variability is therefore, considered to be the raw material for speciation.

  1. Species diversity

The measurement of species diversity is its richness, i.e. the number of species per unit area. Greater the species richness, more will be the species diversity. In nature, the number and kind of species, as well as the number of individual per species, vary, and this leads to greater diversity.

  1. Ecological diversity

It is the diversity at community level. It can be of three types:

(a) Alpha

                                                         \[(\alpha )\]

 diversity: It is the diversity of organisms within the same community or habitat.

(b)  Beta

                                                          \[(\beta )\]

diversity: It is the diversity in between communities or different habitats.  Higher the heterogeneity in the altitude, humidity and temperature of a region, the greater will be the dissimilarity between communities and higher will be the diversity.

(c) Gamma

                                                        \[(\gamma )\]

diversity: It is the diversity of organisms over the entire geographical area, covering several ecosystems or habitats and various trophic levels and food webs. Such diversity is most stable and productive in nature.

 

Number of species on earth

It is difficult to believe that there are 20,000 species of orchids,20,000 species of ants, 28,000 species of fishes and about3,00,000 species of beetles on earth. According to IUCN(International Union for Conservation of Nature and Naturalresources) estimates, the total number of animal and plantspecies, described so far, is more than 1.5 million. Due toproject 'Species 2000' and ‘Global Biodiversity Information’,the new species are being discovered faster than ever before.However, the discovery and description of species is morecomplete in temperate than in tropical countries. A largenumber of species are waiting to be discovered from tropics.According to estimates of Robert May

  • The global species diversity is about 7 million (1.5 million, i.e. 22% reported till now and 78% are yet to be discovered).
  • More than 70% of all the species recorded are animals.Plants are not more than 22% of the total.
  • Among animals also, about 70% are insects.
  • The Fungi have more species than all the vertebrates species combined.
  • In case of vertebrates, the species of fishes are more than that of birds, and of latter, more than reptiles.
  • In case of plant species, the species of fungi > species of angiosperms > species of algae.

The all above estimates do not give any idea for the number of species of prokaryotes, whose species diversity may run in millions.

 

Number of species in India

India is one of the 12 mega divesity country of the world. It has 2.4%, i.e., 1/40 of world land area, but global species diversity is 8.1 %, i.e. 1/12. In India the number of animal and plant species recorded so far is 90,000 and 45,000 respectively.

According to May's global estimates, about 3,00,000 animal species and 1,00,000 plant species are yet to be discovered from India.

(A large number of species are facing the threat of extinction even before they are discovered, i.e. 'Nature's biological library is burning even before we catalogue the titles of all the books stocked there').

 

Pattern of Biodiversity

Biodiversity varies with the change of altitude and latitude. The species diversity is maximum in plains (low altitude) and equator (low latitude). As we move from lower to higher latitude (from equator to poles) or from lower to higher altitude, the biological diversity decreases. The diversity also depends upon seasonal variability and physical environment like temperature, humidity etc.

Thus the diversity of animals and plants is not uniform throughout the world and shows uneven pattern. There are 2 specific patterns of biodiversity.

 

Fig: Distribution of ant species at different altitude & latitude

 

 

  1. Latitudial pattern

The species diversity is the maximum at equator and decreases as one moves towards poles. The tropical diversity is highest between latitudinal ranges of

                                                    \[23.5{}^\circ N\]

to

                                                    \[23.5{}^\circ S\]

. For example, Columbia, near equator, has about 1400 species   of birds, while New York

                                                    \[(41{}^\circ N)\]

 and Greenland

                                                    \[(71{}^\circ N)\]

 have 105 and 56 species only.

A forest of tropical regions, like Ecuador, has ten times more species of vascular plants as compared to the forest of temperate region, like mid-west USA,

The tropical Amazonian rain forest of, S. America, has the greatest biodiversity on earth, and has about 30,000 species of fishes, 1300 species of birds, about 400 each of amphibians, reptiles and mammals, and 1,25,000 species of invertebrates. There are about 2 million species insects and about 40,000 species of plants. There are 3 explanations or hypothesis for the greater biodiversity in tropics

  1. The tropics have remained relatively undisturbed for million of years. There have been no frequent glaciations as in temperate and hence, long evolution time for species diversification.
  2. The tropic environments are more constant or seasonal
  3. Tropics have more solar energy, contributing higher productivity, hence greater diversity.

 

  1. Species - Area relationship

The German naturalist and geographer, Alexander Von Humboldt, while exploring South American jungles, observed that species - richness increased with increasing explored area, but only up to a limit. This relationship between species richness and explored area is a rectangular hyperbola, described by the equation -   \[S\,\,=\,\,C\,\,{{A}^{z}}\]

Where S is species richness; C is Y-intercept; A is area and z is the slope to the line (regression coefficient).

 

 

 

 

On a logarithmic scale, the relationship is a straight line, described by the equation -   \[Log\,\,S\,\,=\,\,Log\,\,C\,\,+\,\,Z\,\,\log \,\,A\]

Ecologists have discovered that value of ‘Z’ always lies in the range of 0, 1 to 0.2, irrespective of the taxonomic group (angiosperm, fish or bird), or the region/geographical area. This means that the slope of the regression line is amazingly similar. But, if one analyses the species - area relationship in a very large area, like the entire continent, the slope of the line is much steeper (Z-value in the range of 0.6 to 1.2)

 

 

Relationship between species diversity and ecosystem

Most of the ecologists believe that

  • The communities with more species are more stable than those with lesser species.
  • The stable community means lesser variations in productivity from year to year.
  • The community with more species, is more resistant to occasional (natural or man-made) disturbances.
  • Such communities are resistant to invasions by alien or exotic species.

 

David Tilman, in his long-term ecosystem experiments, found that plots with more species showed less - year to year variation in total biomass and the increased diversity contributed to higher productivity.

Thus the rich biodiversity is not only essential for the health of the ecosystem but also for the survival of human race on this planet.

 

Loss of biodiversity

There is continuous loss of the earth' treasure of species. For example, the colonization of tropical pacific Islands hy human has led to extinction of more than 2000 species of native birds.

The Red list of IUCN documented the extinction of 784 species in last 500 years. The last 20 years witnessed the disappearance of 27 species.

            Some important examples of recent extinctions are

Dodo (Mauritius), Quagga (Africa), Thylacine (Australia), Steller Sea-cow (Russia), and subspecies of Tiger, like bali, javan and Caspian.

Presently, more than 15,500 species world-wide are facing the threat of extinction. This includes 32% of amphibian species, 23% of mammalian species and 12% of birds' species. About 31 % of the gymnosperms species are also facing the extinction. The amphibians are however, more vulnerable in such cases.

            From origin to evolution of life on earth, i.e. duration about 3 billion yrs., there have been 5-episodes of mass extinction, but the present, the 6th, mass extinction is 100 to 1000 times faster than the pre-human extinctions. The ecologists now warn that in next 100 years about 50% of all the species on earth will be wiped out. The loss in biodiversity of a region leads to

  1. Lowered resistance to environmental changes
  2. Decline in the plant production
  3. Increased variability in certain ecosystem, pest disease cycles and water use etc.

 

Causes of loss of biodiversity

The accelerated rate of species-extinction is largely due to human activities. There are 4-major causes, called

‘The Evil Quartet’, for the loss of biodiversity -

  1. Habitat loss and fragmentation?
  2. Overexploitation
  3. Invasion of Alien or exotic species
  4. Co-extinctions

 

  1. Habitat loss and fragmentation

            The cutting trees and burning of forest destroys the natural habitat of a species. The construction of mines, dams, harbors, industries and buildings for human settlement has also affected the biodiversity. The Habitat destruction is the primary and major reason for the loss of biodiversity. The tropical rain forest is the example of the habitat loss where forest covering has been reduced from 14% of land surface to 6%.

The Amazon rain forest, called ‘The Lungs of the Planet’, which harbors millions of species, is being cleared for cultivating soybean or developing grasslands for raising cattle. The pollution is also the factor for degradation of habitat.

When large habitats are broken into small fragments due to various human activities, the population of migratory animals, mammals and birds, that require a large territory, are adversely affected.

 

  1. Overexploitation

When human need turns to human greed, for food and shelter, it leads to overexploitation of natural resources.   3 Many species - extinction, like that of stellar sea-cow and Passenger pigeon, in last 500 years, are due to   4 overexploitation by humans. Many marine fishes are also being over harvested. Over fishing from a water body,   or over harvesting a product is just like 'killing a goose laying golden eggs'.

 

  1. Invasion of Alien or exotic species

When alien species are introduced into an explored area, some of the species turn invasive and cause decline or extinction of indigenous species. For example –

  • Introduction of Nile perch into lake Victoria (E. Africa) led to the extinction of more than 200 species of Cichlid fish in the lake
  • Introduction of weed species, like Carrot grass (Parthenium), Lantana and water hyacinth (Eicchomia) has posed threat to the native species and damage to environment.
  • The illegal introduction of African cat fish (Clariasgariepinus) for aquaculture purposes into the river has threatened indigenous cat fishes.

 

  1. Co-extinctions

Whenever a plant or animal species becomes extinct, its obligatory-associated species also becomes extinct. For example, when a host species becomes extinct, the parasite also meets the same fate. In case of 'plant pollinator mutualism' the extinction of one species leads to the extinction of the other.

 

Processes of extinction of biodiversity -

  1. Natural extinction

With the change of environmental conditions some species have disappeared and the more adaptive species have appeared. This extinction is slow and is called ‘Background extinction’.

 

  1. Mass extinction

It is extinction of large number of species due to natural calamities/catastrophies. The extinction of Dinosaurs is one such example.

 

  1. Anthropogenic extinction

It is the disappearance of species due to human activities. This man-made extinction represents a severe depletion of biodiversity in terms of time. The current rate of extinction is thousand times higher than the background extinction. If the current rate of losses continues the earth may lose up to 50% of the species by 'the end of 21st Century.

Susceptibility to extinction -

The species with the following features are more susceptible (vulnerable) to extinction than the other species.

  1. Larger body size (eg. Elephant, Bengal Tiger and Lion etc.)
  2. Smaller population with low reproductive rate (eg. Blue whale and Giant panda)
  3. Fixed habitat or migratory routes (eg. Whooping cranes and Blue whales).
  4. Feeding at higher trophic level in the food chain, (eg. Bengal tiger and Bald Eagle).
  5. Narrow range of distribution (eg. Island species and woodland caribou).

 

Conservation of Biodiversity

Conservation means management of human-use of the biosphereso that it may yield greatest long term (sustainable) benefits forthe present generation by maintaining its potential to meet theneeds and aspiration of future generations.

Strategies of conservation –

  1. The threatened species should be protected in-situ or ex-situ
  2. Critical habitats should be safe guarded.
  3. Unique ecosystems should be protected.
  4. Planning and Management of the land and water use.
  5. 5. Utilization should not exceed the productive capacities.
  6. The international trade of wild life organisms or their products should be regulated by legislature and administrative measures.

The reasons for conservation of biodiversity can be grouped into three categories

  1. Narrowly utilitarian
  2. Broadly utilitarian
  3. Ethical reasons

 

  1. Narrowly utilitarian

According to them, the conservation is obvious since human directly derives several economic benefits from biodiversity/ nature, like food (cereal, pulses, and fruits), industrial products (lubricants, dyes, resins, perfumes. tannins etc), medicinal products, firewood and fibres etc- About 25% of the drugs in the world market are derived  from plants

Nobody knows how many medicinal plants are still unexplored in tropical rain forest.

 

  1. Broadly utilitarian

They believe that biodiversity plays major role in ecosystem or nature. For example, the Amazon rain forest, through photosynthesis, produces 20% of total oxygen in the earth's atmosphere. The economic value of such services cannot be estimated in money.

The Pollination, without which the plants cannot give fruits or seeds, through pollinators like bees, bumble bees, bird and bats, is another such service that ecosystem provides, We also get aesthetic pleasure when we walk through full bloom flowers in spring and listen to the melodious songs of bulbul or cockoo.

 

  1. Ethical reasons

There is spiritual and philosophical need for the conservation of biodiversity. It is our moral duty to take care for the wellbeing of each and every species.

 

 

 

 

  1. In situ conservation

            In such conservation the endangered species are protected in their natural habitat with entire ecosystem. The conservationists, on global basis, have identified certain Biodiversity Hot Spots (with high level of species richness and high degree of endemism).

The endemic species are the ones which are confined to a particular region and are not found any where else. The hot spots are also the regions of accelerated habitat loss. Hot spots are the areas with high density of biodiversity or mega diversity which are most threatened at present. The concept was developed by environmental scientist Norman Myers of Oxford University in the United Kingdom in an attempt to identify priority areas for biodiversity conservation. Around the world, 35 areas qualify as hotspots. They represent just 2.3% of earth's land surface, but they support more than half of the world's plant species as endemics - i.e., species found no place else - and nearly 43% of bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species as endemics.

The number of such hot spots is now 34. These hot spots cover only 1 to 2 percent of earth's land area,

To qualify as a biodiversity hotspot, a region must meet two strict criteria:

  • It must have at least 1,500 vascular plants as endemics - which is to say, it must have a high percentage of plant life found nowhere else on the planet. A hotspot, in other words, is irreplaceable.
  • It must have 30 % or less of its original natural vegetation. In other words, it must be threatened.

The three biodiversity hot spots of India, that cover rich-biodiversity regions: are

  1. Western Ghat
  2. Himalaya
  3. Indo-Burma

The in situ conservation, in India, is done through 15-Biosphere reserves, 90-National Parks, more than 450 sanctuaries and several Sacred Groves or the tracts of forests.

 

  1. Biosphere reserves

            They represent natural biomes which contain unique biological communities. They include land as well as coastal environment. Biosphere reserves were created under MAB (Man and Biosphere) programme of UNESCO in 1971. Till May 2000 there were 408 biosphere reserves in 94 countries of the world. In India there are 15 biosphere reserves. There are three zones in a biosphere reserve:

(a) Core (natural) zone - It is inner most zone which is legally protected and completely undisturbed from human interference,

(b) Buffer zone - In this zone limited human activity is allowed for research and education purposes.

(c) Transition (manipulation) zone - It is the outermost zone of biosphere reserve in which large number of human activities are permitted, eg. Cultivation, domestication, harvesting of natural product, grazing, forestry, settlement and recreation etc. In this zone the traditional life style of tribals is protected with their live-stock.

 

 

Different zones of a Terrestrial Biosphere reserve

 

 

 

Functions of biosphere reserves

  1. For conservation of landscape, ecosystem and genetic resources.
  2. For economic development.
  3. For scientific research, education and for exchange of information at national and global level.

 

Nilgiri is the first biosphere reserve declared in 1986. It includes parts of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamilnadu. The list of biosphere reserves of India is given below:-

  1. Nilgiri 2. Nandadevi
  2. Uttrakhand 4. Nokrek (Meghalaya)
  3. Andamans 6. Simlipal (Orissa)
  4. Kaziranga (Assam) 8. Gulf of Mannar (T.N)
  5. Thar Desert 10 Sundarbans (W.B.)
  6. Kanha (M.P.) 12. Runn of Kutch (Guj)
  7. Nicobar 14. Manas (Assam)
  8. Namdapha (Ar. P.)

 

  1. National Parks

            They are reserved for the betterment of wild life, both fauna and flora. In national parks private ownership is not allowed. The grazing, cultivation, forestry etc. is also not permitted. The first national park of the world, Yellow stone, in U.S.A., was founded in 1872.

 

Important state wise national parks of India are ?

STATE

PARK

Jammu and Kashmir

Dachigam, Salim Ali

Assam

Kaziranga, Manas*

Meghalaya

Nokrek

West  Bengal

Sunderbans

Bihar

Hazaribagh, Palamau*

Uttaranchal

Corbett* (Hailey), Nanda Devi, Valley of flowers, Rajaji

U. P.

Dudhwa*

Gujrat

Gir, Marine

Rajasthan

Sariska*, Ranthambore*, Desert

Madhya Pradesh

Kanha*, Sanjay, Madhav, Panna, Bandhavgarh* Van Vihar, Fossil

Orissa

Simlipal

Karnataka

Bandipur*

Kerala

Silent Valley, Periyar*

 

*These national parks are running Tiger Project also. (The maximum national parks are present in Madhya Pradesh).

 

  1. Sanctuaries

In sanctuaries the protection is given to fauna only. The activities like harvesting of timber, collection of forest products and private ownership rights are permitted so long as they do not interfere with the wellbeing of the animals. The important wild life sanctuaries are Chilka Wild Life Sanctuary (Orissa), Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (Rajasthan), Sultanpur Bird sanctuary (Haryana) and Jalpara Sanctuary (West Bengal). Maximum sanctuaries belong to Andaman and Nicobar.

The Project Tiger was launched in India in year 1973 with the assistance of WWF (World Wild life Fund) after the recommendation of IBWL (Indian Board of Wild Life). At present there are more than 20 tiger projects. (WWF after its silver jubilee in 1986 has been renamed as World Fund for Nature (WFN). The symbol of WWF is Giant Panda.

In India National Parks and Sanctuaries were created after formulation of Wild life (protection) act in 1972. (This act was amended in 1991).

The sacred groves are found in Khasi and Jaintia hills (Meghalaya), Aravalli hills (Rajasthan), Western ghats (Karnataka and Maharashtra) and Sarguja, Chanda and Bastar areas of Madhya Pradesh.

 

National parks in India

Name

State

Notability

Bandipur National Park (1974)

Karnataka

Chital, gray langurs, Indian giant squirrel, Gaur, Leopard, Sambar deer, Indian elephants, honey buzzard, red-headed vulture and other animals.

Bannerghatta National Park (Bannerghatta Biological Park (1974)

Karnataka

White Tiger, Royal Bengal Tiger, Bear, other animals

Betla National Park (1986)

Jharkhand

Tigar, Sloth Bear, Peacock, Elephant, Sambar deer, mouse deer and other animals.

Bhitarkanika National Park (1988)

Odisha

Mangroves, Saltwater crocodile, white crocodile, Indian python, black ibis, wild pigs, rhesus monkeys, chital and other animals

Buxa Tiger Reserve (1992)

West Bengal

Tiger

Dachigam National Park (1981)

J & K

Only area where Kashmir stag is found

Dudhwa National Park (1977)

U. P.

Swamp deer, sambar deer, barking deer, spotted deer, hog deer, tiger, Indian rhinoceros,

Gir Forest National Park (1965)

Gujarat

Asiatic lion

Great Himalayan National Park (1984)

Himachal Pradesh

UNESCO World Heritage site

Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park (1980)

Tamil Nadu

Green turtles and Olive Ridley turtles and whales.

Indravati National Park (1981)

Chhattisgarh

Wild Asian Buffalo, Tiger Reserve, Hill Mynas

Jaldapara National Park (2012)

West Bengal

Indian one horned rhinoceros

Jim Corbett National Park (1936)

Uttarakhand

Tiger

Kanha National Park (1955)

M. P.

Swamp Deer, Tigers

Kaziranga National Park (1905)

Assam

Indian rhinoceros, UNESCO World Heritage Site

Keibul Lamjao National Park (1977)

Manipur

Only floating park in the world

Keoladeo National Park

Rajasthan

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Manas National Park (1990)

Assam

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Mandla Plant Fossils National Park (1983)

M. P.

Plant Fossils National Park

Marine National Park, Gulf of Kutch (1980)

Gujarat

70 species of sponges, Coral 52 species along with puffer fishes, sea horse and sting ray

Namdapha National Park

Arunachal Pradesh

Snow Leopards, Clouded Leopards, Common Leopards and Tigers

Nanda Devi National Park (1982)

Uttrakhand

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Neora Valley National Park (1986)

West Bengal

Clouded leopard, red panda and musk deer

Nokrek National Park (1986)

Meghalaya

UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve

Periyar National Park (1982)

Kerala

Tigers

Ranthambore National Park (1981)

Rajasthan

Tigers, Leopards, Striped Hyenas, Sambar deer and Chital.

Sariska Tiger Reserve (1955)

Rajasthan

Tigers

Simlipal National Park (1980)

Odisha

Tiger, Leopard, Asian elephant, Sambar, Barking deer, Gaur, Jungle cat, Wild boar, and other animals.

Sultanpur National Park (1989)

Haryana

Siberian crane, greater flamingo, ruff, black-winged stilt, common teal, northern pintail, and yellow wagtail.

Sundarbans National park (1984)

West Bengal

UNESCO World Heritage site

Valley of Flowers National Park (1982)

Uttrakhand

Flying squirrel, Himalayan black bear, red fox, Himalayan weaseland Himalayan yellow-throated marten, and Himalayan goral

 

Wild Life sanctuary

India has total 515 animal sanctuaries referred to as wildlife sanctuaries category IV protected areas. Among these, the 48 tiger reserves are governed by Project Tiger and are of special significance in terms of conservation of the tiger.

 

Wild Life Sanctuaries In India

Name Of the Sanctuaries

Location

Major Species

Gir wild life sanctuary

Sasan Gir, Junagadh Amreli

Lion, Leopard, Chausinga, Chital, Hyena, Sambar, Chinkara, Herpetofauna, Crocodiles and birds

Wild Ass Sanctuary

Little Rann of Kachchh

Wild Ass, Chinkara, Blue Bull, Houbara bustard, Wolf, Hyena, Fox, Birds, Herpetofauna

Marine Sanctuary

Hingolgadh Rajkot

Chinkara, Blue bull, Wolf, Hyena, Fox, Birds, Herpetofauna

Simlipal Sactuary

Odisha

Chinkara, Hyena, Fox, Flamingo, Pelicans & other waterfowls, Herpetofauna

Rampara Sanctuary

Rampara, Rajkot

Blue bull, Chinkara, Wolf, Fox, Jackal, Birds, Herpetofauna

Panchmarhi

Karnataka

Tiger, Panther, Sambhar, Nilgai, Baskeng, Deer

Dandeli Sanctuary

Karnataka

Tiger, Panther, Elephant, Cheetal, Sanbhar, Wild Boar

Kutch Bustard Sanctuary

Near Naliya, Kachchh

Great  Indian Bustard, Lesser Florican, Houbara bustard, Chinkara, Blue bull, Herpetofauna

 

Biosphere reserves in India Area-wise

Name

State

Key Fauna

Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve

Tsmil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka

Nilgiri tahr, lion-tailed macaque

Nanda Devi National Park & Biosphere Reserve

Uttrakhand

 

Gulf of Mannar

Tamil Nadu

Dugong or sea cow

Nokrek

Meghalaya

Red panda

Sundarbans

West Bengal

Royal Bengal tiger

Simlipal

Odisha

Gaur, royal Bengal tiger, elephant

Dihang-Dibang

Arunachal Pradesh

 

Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve

Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh

Four horned antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis), Indian wild dog (Cuon alpinus), Saras crane (Grus Antigone), Asian white-backed vulture (Gype bengalensis), Sacred grove bush frog (Philautus sanctisilvaticus)

Great Rann of Kutch

Gujarat

Indian wild ass

Cold Desert

Himachal Pradesh

Snow Leopard

Khangchendzonga

Sikkim

Snow leopard, red panda

Agasthyamall Biosphere Reserve

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Saltwater crocodile

Dibru-Saikhowa

Assam

Golden Langur

Seshachalam Hills

Andhra Pradesh

 

Panna

Madhya Pradesh

Tiger, chital, chinkara, sambhar and sloth bear

 

 

  1. Ex situ conservation

In such type of conservation the threatened animals and plants are taken out of their natural    habitat and are protected in special parks or areas like. Zoological parks, Wild life safari parks and Botanical gardens etc. The ex. situ conservation also includes:

  • Cryopreservation of gametes of threatened species in viable and fertile form.
  • Fertilization of eggs in vitro and propagation of plants through ‘Tissue culture methods’
  • Preservation of seeds through Seed banks

 

The historic conservation on Biodiversity, 'The Earth

Summit' was held in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in 1992.

In a follow-up, in 2002, through 'World Summit on Sustainable Development' in Johannesburg (South Africa), 190 countries pledged their commitment for a significant reduction in current rate of biodiversity-loss at global, regional and local level by 2010. The next summit for the cause of biodiversity is to be held in 2012.

(*Botanical gardens - There are about 1500 botanical gardens and arboreta (a place where specific species of trees or shrubs are cultivated for research or display) in the world. They contain more than 80000 species. Some botanical gardens also have facilities of seed bank and tissue culture.)

 

Biodiversity of India

As per the available data, the varieties of species living on the earth are around 1753739. Out of the above total number of species, 134781 are residing in India although the surface area of India is only 2.42% of the earth's surface. Wild life the Institute of India has divided it into ten biogeographical regions and twenty five biotic provinces.

Biogeographical regions are:

(i) Trans Himalayas

(ii) Gangetic plain

(iii) Desert

(iv) Semiarid zone

(v) Western Ghats

(vi) Deccan peninsula

(vii) North eastern zone

(viii) Coastal lands

(ix) Himalayas

(x) Islands

 

India is one of the twelve mega diversity nations of the world due to the following reasons:

(i)   It has 7.3% of the global fauna and 10.88% of global flora as per the data collected by Ministry of Environment and forest.

(ii) It has 350 different mammals, 1200 species of birds- 453 different reptiles, 182 amphibians and 45,000 plants species.

(iii) It has 50,000 known species of insects which include 13,000 butterflies and moths.

(iv) It has 10 different biogeographical regions and 25 biotic provinces having varieties of lands and species.

(v) In addition to geographical distribution, geological events in the land mass provide high level of biological diversity.

(vi) Several crops produced in the country and spread throughout the world.

(vii) There is wide variety of domestic animals like cows, buffaloes, goats, sheep, pigs, horses etc.

(viii) The marine biota includes sea weeds, fishes, crustaceans, molluses, corals, reptiles etc.

(ix) There are a number of hot spots (namely Eastern Ghats, Western Ghats, North Eastern hills etc.).

 

IUCN at a glance

  • Founded in 1948 as the world's first global environmental organization
  • Today, IUCN (International Union for conservation of Nature) the largest professional global conservation network. Work together to forge and implement solution to environmental challenges.
  • A leading authority on the environment and sustainable development
  • As per the IUCN data more than 1,200 member organizations including 200 + governments and 900 non-government organizations
  • Almost 11,000 voluntary scientists and experts, group in six Commissions in some 160 countries harnessing the experience and reaching out to its members.
  • IUCN’s work is supported by over 1,000 staff in 45 office and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. The Union's headquarters are located in Gland, near Geneva, in Switzerland.
  • A neutral forum for governments, NGOs, scientists business and local communities to find practical solution to conservation and development challenges
  • IUCN is funded by governments, bilateral and multilateral agencies, foundations, member organisation and corporations
  • Official Observer Status at the United Nations General Assembly

The IUCN Red List of 'Threatened Species' provides taxonomic, conservation status and distribution information on plants, fungi and animals that have been globally evaluated using the IUCN Red List categories and criteria. This system is designed to determine the relative risk of extinction, and the main purpose of the IUCN Red List is to catalogue and highlight those plants and animals that are facing a higher risk of global extinction (i.e. those listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable). The IUCN Red List also includes information on plants, fungi and animals that are categorized as Extinct or Extinct in the Wild; on taxa that cannot be evaluated because of insufficient information (i.e., are Data Deficient); and on plants, fungi and animals that are either close to meeting the threatened thresholds or that would be threatened were it not for an ongoing taxon-specific conservation programme (i.e., are Near Threatened).

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is widely recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species. The IUCN Red List was updated three times in 2015. The IUCN Red List now includes 79,837 assessed species, of which 23,250 are threatened with extinction, with habitat loss and degradation identified as the main threat to more than 80% of species assessed.

 

Red data book

A Red Data Book contains lists of species whose continued existence is threatened. Species are classified into different categories of perceived risk. Each Red Data Book usually deals with a specific group of animals or plants (e. reptiles, insects, mosses). They are now being published in many different countries and provide useful information on the threat status of the species.

By the end of 2014 India had 988 threatened species on the list, which lists critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable species. While 2013, the number was 973. In 2008, there were 659 species only which increased by 50 percent in seven years due to better research identifying more threatened species and deforestation.

 Indian elephant, Bengal tiger, Indian lion, Indian rhino, Gaur, lion tailed macaque, Tibetan antelope, ganga river dolphin, lion Nilgiri tahr, snow leopard, dhole, black buck, great Indian bustard, forest owlet, white - winged duck and many more are the most endangered animals in India.

 

Endangered Species In India

Birds,

White-bellied heron

Great Indian bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps)

Forest owlet (Athene blewitti)

Baer's pochard (Aythy a baeri)

Spoon-billed sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus)

Siberian crane (Grus leucogeranus)

White-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis)

Indian vulture (Gyps indicus)

Slender-billed vulture (Gyps tenuirostris)

Bengal florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis)

Himalayan quail (Ophrysia superciliosa)

Jerdon?s courser (Rhinoptilus bitorquatus)

Pmk-headed duck (Rhodonessa caryophyllacea)

Red-headed vulture (Sarcogyps calvus)

Sociable lapwing (Vanellus gregarius)

Bugun liocichia (Liocichia bugunorum)

 

Fish

Knifetooth sawfish (Anoxypristis cuspidata)

Pondicherry shark (Carcharhinus hemiodon)

Ganges shark (Glyphis gangeticus)

Deccan labeo (Labeo potail)

Largetooth sawfish (Pristis microdon)

Longcomb sawfish (Pristis zijsron)

      Humpback mahseer

Reptiles and Amphibians

Northern river terrapin (Batagur baska)

Red-crowned roofed turtle (Batagur kachuga)

Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus)

Ghats wart frog (Fejervarya murthii)

Gundia Indian frog (Indirana gundia)

Toad-skinned frog (Indirana phrynoderma)

Charles Darwin's frog (Ingerana charlesdarwini)

Rao's torrent frog (Micrixalus kottigeharensis)

Amboli bush frog (Pseudophilautus amboli)

White-spotted bush frog (Raorchestes chalazodes)

Griet bush frog (Raorchestes griet)

Munnar bush frog (Raorchestes munnarensis)

Ponmudi bush frog (Raorchestes ponmudi)

Sacred Grove bush frog (Raorchestes sanctisilvaticus)

Shillong bubble-nest frog (Raorchestes shillongensis)

Resplendent shrubfrog (Raorchestes resplendens)

Anaimalai flying frog (Rhacophorus pseudomalabaricus)

Patinghe Indian gecko (Geckoella jeyporensis)

 

Mammals

Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus)

Namdapha flying squirrel (Biswamoyopterus biswasi)

Himalayan wolf (Canis himalayensis)

Andaman Shrew (Crocidura andamanensis)

Jenkins' shrew (Crocidura jenkinsi)

Nicobar shrew (Crocidura nicobarica)

Northern Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus

sumatrensis lasiotis)

Kondana soft-furred rat (Millardia kondana)

Pygmy hog (Porcula salvania)

Indian Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus inennis)

Malabar large-spotted civet (Viverra civettina)

Elvira rat (Cremnomys elvira)

Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla)

Kashmir stag (Cervus canadensis hanglu)

Coral

Fire corals (Millepora boschmai) Spiders

Rameshwaram Ornamental or Parachute Spider

(Poecilotheria hanumavilasumica)

Gooty Tarantula, Metallic Tarantula or (Poecilotheria metallica)

 

 

Hotspots

Its also known as Biodiversity hotspot.

It is a biogeographic region with significant levels of biodiversity that is threatened with destruction. The concept was given by Norman Myers in the years 1988. To qualify an area as a hotspot it should fulfill two major criteria:

(a) It must contain at least 0.5% or 1500 species of vascular plants as endemics.

(b) Also, it has lost 70% of its primary vegetation.

 

Total No. of hotspot in the world

There are 35 hotspots present in the world. They represent just 2.3% of Earth's land surface, but between them they contain around 50% of the world's endemic plant species and 42% of terrestial vertebrates.

 

No. of hotspot in India

There are 3 major hotspot in India namely. Western Ghats, the Eastern Himalayas and Indo-Burma Region. These hotspots have numerous endemic species.

Endemism

It is the ecological state of a species belonging to the particular or specific geographical area such as an island, nation, country or other defined zones. Hence, there are endemic and are not found in any other regions.

CITES

CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure the international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

For many years, CITES has been among the conservation agreements with the largest membership, with now 181 parties. Roughly 5,600 species of animals and 30,000 species of plants are protected by CITES against over exploitation through international trade. They are listed in the three CITE Appendices. The species are grouped in the appendices according to how threatened they are by international trade. They include some whole groups, such as primates, cetaceans (whales, dolphins and tortoises), sea turtles, parrots, corals, cacti and orchids. However, in some cases only a subspecies or geographically separate population of a species (for example the population of just one country) is listed.

 

Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate

Change (INDIA)

The Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) is the nodal agency in the Central Government for overseeing the implementation of India's environment and forest policies and programmes relating to conservation of the country's natural resources including lakes and rivers, its biodiversity, forests and wildlife, ensuring the welfare of animals and prevention and abatement of pollution. While implementing these policies and programmes, the Ministry is guided by the principle of sustainable development. The Ministry is also the nodal agency for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme (SACEP), International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The Ministry also coordinates with multilateral bodies such as the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), Global Environment Facility (GEF) and regional bodies such as Economic and Social Council for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP) and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) on matters pertaining to environment,

The broad objectives of the Ministry are:

  • Conservation and survey of flora, fauna, forests am wildlife
  • Prevention and control of pollution
  • Afforestation and regeneration of degraded areas
  • Protection of environment, and
  • Ensuring the welfare of animals.

 

National biodiversity authority (NBA)

The Biological Diversity Act 2002 came into force in 2003 The Act extents to the whole of India. The objectives of the Act are conservation, sustainable utilization and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources and associated knowledge. The Act is being implemented in a three tiered institutional structures (NBA at National level, State Biodiversity Board at State level and Biodiversity Management Committee at local level).

The NBA is a body corporate established in accordance with the provisions of Sec. 8 of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 at Chennai w.e.f. 1st October 2003. It is an autonomous statutory and regulatory organization which is intended to implement the provisions of Biological Diversity Act, 2002.

The main objectives of NBA are: -

  • To regulate access to biological resources of the country to conserve and sustainable use of biological diversity.
  • To respect and protect the knowledge of local communities related to biodiversity.
  • To secure sharing of benefits with the local people as conservers of biological resources and holders of knowledge and information relating to the use biological resources.
  • Conservation and development of area of important from the view point of biological diversity by declaring them as biological diversity heritage sites.
  • Protection and rehabilitation of threatened species involvement of institutions of state government in the broad scheme of implementation of the Biological Diversity Act through constitution of committees.

 

Centres of Excellence (in India)

  • Centre for Environment Education (CEE), Ahmedabad.
  • CPR Environmental Education Centre (CPREEC) Chennai.
  • Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES), Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.
  • Centre of Mining Environment (CME), Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad.
  • Salim Alt Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), Coimbatore.
  • Centre for Environment Management of Degraded Ecosystem (CEMDE), University of Delhi, Delhi.
  • Madras School of Economics (MSE), Chennai.
  • Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT), Bengalum.

The Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (TBGRI), Thiruvananthapuram.

Centre for Animals and Environment, CARTMAN, Bengaluru.

 

Loss of Biodiversity

There is a continuous loss of the earth's treasure of species. For example, the colonization of tropical pacific Islands by human has led to extinction of more than 2000 species of native birds. The Red list of IUCN documented the extinction of 784 species in last 500 years. The last 20 years witnessed the disappearance of 27 species.

Some important examples of recent extinctions are-

Dodo (Mauritius), Quagga (Africa), Thylacine (Australia),

Steller Sea-cow (Russia) and subspecies of Tiger like bali, javan and Caspian.

Presently, more than 15,500 species world-wide are facing the threat of extinction. This includes 32% of amphibian species, 23% of mammalian species and 12% of birds' species. About 31% of the gymnosperms species are also facing the extinction.The amphibians are however, more vulnerable in such cases.

 

Causes of loss of biodiversity

 

The accelerated rate of species-extinction is largely due to human activities. There are four-major causes, called 'The

Evil Quartet', for the loss of biodiversity -

  1. Habitat loss and fragmentation
  2. Over-exploitation
  3. Invasion of Alien or exotic species
  4. Co-extinctions

 

  1. Habitat loss and fragmentation

The cutting trees and burning of forest destroys the natural habitat of a species. The construction of mines, dams, harbors, industries and buildings for human settlement has also affected the biodiversity. The Habitat destruction is the primary and major reason for the loss of biodiversity. The tropical rain forest is the example of the habitat loss where forest covering has been reduced from 14% of land surface to 6%.

The Amazon rain forest, called 'The Lungs of the Planet', which harbors millions of species, is being cleared for cultivating soyabean or developing grasslands for raising cattle. The pollution is also the factor for degradation of habitat.

When large habitats are broken into small fragments due 10 various human activities, the population of migratory animals, mammals and birds, that require a large territory, are adversely affected.

 

  1. Over-exploitation

When human need turns to human greed, for food and shelter, it leads to overexploitation of natural resources. Many species - extinction, like that of Stellar sea-cow and Passenger pigeon, in last 500 years, are due to over- exploitation by humans. Many marine fishes are also being over harvested. Over fishing from a water body, or over harvesting a product is just like 'killing a goose laying golden eggs'.

 

  1. Invasion of Alien or exotic species

When alien species are introduced into an explored area, some of the species turn invasive and cause decline or extinction of indigenous species. For example –

  • Introduction of Nile perch into lake Victoria (E. Africa) led to the extinction of more than 200 species of Cichlid fish in the lake
  • Introduction of weed species, like Carrot grass (Parthenium), Lantana and water hyacinth (Eicchomid) has posed threat to the native species and damage to environment.
  • The illegal introduction of African cat fish (Glorias gariepinus) for aquaculture purposes into the river has threatened indigenous cat fishes.

 

  1. Co-extinctions

Whenever a plant or animal species becomes extinct, its obligatory-associated species also becomes extinct. For example, when a host species becomes extinct, the parasite also meets the same fate. In case of 'plant pollinator mutualism' the extinction of one species leads to the extinction of the other.

 

 

Animal Welfare

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

It is a non-profitable American animal rights organization based in Norfolk, Virginia. The organisation is led by Ingrid Newkirk, the international president, founded in 1980 with a slogan "Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way." It focuses its attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time-on factory farms, in the clothing trade, in laboratories, and in the entertainment industry.

 

World Wide Fund for Nature

The organisation was conceived in Merges, Switzerland (29, April, 1961). It is an international non-governmental organization in nature. Works in the field related to biodiversity con- servation, and the reduction of humanity's footprint on the environment. It is the world's largest conservation organization with the slogan of "For a Living Planet." The method of its working involves Lobbying Research and Consultancy. Basically it's a charitable trust. WWF's giant panda logo originated from a panda named Chi Chi. It has been designed by Sir Peter Scott from preliminary sketches made by Gerald Watterson.

The main missions of WWF are as follows:

  • Conserving the world's biological diversity
  • ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable.
  • Promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

 

At present WWF's current strategy of achieving its mission which is related to restoring populations of 36 species (species or species groups that are important for their ecosystem or to people, including elephants, tunas, whales, dolphins and porpoises). and ecological footprint in 6 areas (carbon emissions, cropland, grazing land, fishing, forestry and water).

 

Animal Welfare Board of India

Functions

  • To keep the law in force in India for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals under constant study and to advise the government on the amendments to be undertaken in any such law from time to time.
  • To advise the Central Government on the making of rules under the Act with a view to preventing unnecessary pain or suffering to animals and transported.
  • To advise in the design of vehicles so as to lessen the burden on draught animals.
  • To take all such steps as the Board may think fit for amelioration of animals by encouraging, or providing for the construction of sheds, water troughs and the like and by providing for veterinary assistance to animals.
  • To advise in the design of slaughter houses or its

 

India Initiative towards Animal protection

Project Tiger an government of India initiative for conserving its national animal, the tiger. The project was launched in 1973. Since then the no of tiger reserve has been increased from 9 to 47 which accounts for 2.08% the total geographical area of our country. The area of tiger projects have been developed on core/ buffer strategy. The core areas are legally termed as National Parks and the buffering areas are a mixture of forest and non-forest land managed as a multiple used area. The project aims at fostering an exclusive tiger agenda in the core areas of tiger reserves, with an inclusive people oriented agenda in the buffer

 

Project Rhino was joint venture of the Assam Forest Department and Wildlife Trust of India – International Fund for Animal Welfare (WTI-IFAW) and initiated in February 2006 withthe trans location of a hand-raised rhino calf to Manas Wildlife Sanctuary. The projects aims at repopulatimg the one hornrhino by displacing them to Manas wild life sanctuary fromKaziranga National Park. The whole project is supported byBodoland Territorial Council and the Assam Forest Department.

 

Project Crocodile Conservation was launched in 1975 in different States for protecting the endangered crocodile species like Gharial, Gavialis gangeticus; Mugger crocodile, Crocodylus palustris and saltwater crocodile, Crocodylus were on the verge of extinction by the seventies. The funds and technical support for the project came from UNDP/ FAO through the Government of India.

 

Project Elephant (PE) is a central government initiative to provide financial and technical support to major elephant bearing states of India. It was launched in February 1992. It aims at protecting the elephants, their habitat and corridor. It also looks after the human elephant issues. It is implemented in 13 States / UTs, viz. Andhra pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttranchal, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. SAVE (Saving Asia's Vultures from Extinction) is a con sortium of regional and international organization to co-ordinate conservation, campaigning and fundraising activities to help the plight of south Asia's vultures. The key strategies of vulture conservation SAVE is involved in a wide range of conservation activities across South Asia including:

  • Breeding vultures in captivity so that their offspring can be released back in to the wild when the environment is free from diclofenac.
  • An active advocacy programme targeting the vets an farmers using diclofenac.
  • Legislation controlling the manufacture and sale of veterinary drugs.
  • In-situ conservation actions focused around the small but key remaining vulture populations in the wild.
  • An active research programme that underpins the activities and monitors their effectiveness.

 

Project Dolphin- Gangetic river dolphins is India's national aquatic animal and is often known as the 'Tiger of the Ganges’.This dolphin species is an indicator animal which represent, healthy river ecosystem in a same position as a tiger in a for est. Their population is estimated to be less than 2,000 in the country. Some of the major threats are habitat fragmentation due to construction of dams and barrages, direct killing, indiscriminate fishing and pollution of rivers.

For conservation of dolphins, India's first Dolphin Community Reserve established in West Bengal to protect the endangered mammal, Gangeticus river dolphins. The reserve would be up in the Hooghly River between Malda and Sundarbans as per provisions of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. State Forest department also has announced that it would also conduct census to estimate the population of dolphins.

 

 

 

 

 

Other Topics

Notes - Biodiversity
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