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Species in News

20th Sept 2021

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Indian Bullfrogs

  • The Indian Bullfrog Hoplobatrachus Tigerinus (native to
    the Indian subcontinent) has rapidly invaded the Andaman
    islands after it was introduced there in the early 2000s.
  • In human-dominated areas, it now shares space with other
    native (and often endemic) frog species.
  •  The bullfrogs are prolific breeders: they have short breeding
    seasons, and each egg clutch can contain up to 5,750 eggs.
  • Its tadpoles are carnivorous and eat other tadpoles (including their own species).
  • The proportion of bullfrog tadpoles surviving was greater
    in the presence of both endemic frog tadpoles.
  • This is worrying because other native frog species – many
    of which are only being described – could also be affected

Balsams of Eastern Himalayas

  • Consisting of both annual and perennial herbs, balsams
    are succulent plants with high endemism.
  • Because of their bright beautiful flowers, these groups of
    plants are of prized horticultural significance.
  • The details of the new species, including several new
    records, have been highlighted in the book, recently published by the Botanical Survey of India.
  • Of the 83 species described, 45 are from Arunachal Pradesh,
    24 from Sikkim and 16 species common to both states.
Threats:
  • Prior to 2010, specimens of Impatiens that had potential
    of being identified as new species would be collected but
    the dried-up specimens looked identical to the species
    discovered earlier and their effort yielded no results.
  • Other than high endemism, what sets Impatiens apart is
    their sensitivity to climate change.
  • Most of the species of Impatiens cannot endure persistent
    drought or extended exposure to direct sunlight.
  • As a result Impatiens species are typically confined
    to stream margins, moist roadsides, waterside boulders, near waterfalls and wet forests.

Miracle Plant Arogyapacha

  • This ‘miracle plant’ is known for its traditional use by the
    Kani tribal community to combat fatigue.
  • Studies have also proved its varied spectrum of pharmacological properties such as anti-oxidant, aphrodisiac, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anti-tumour, anti-ulcer, anti-hyperlipidemic, hepatoprotective and anti-diabetic.

Dracaena Cambodiana: India’s first dragon blood-oozing tree

  • A group of researchers has discovered Dracaena cambodiana, a dragon tree species in the Dongka Sarpo area of West Karbi Anglong, Assam.
  •  This is the first time that a dragon tree species has been
    reported from India.
  • In India, the Dracaena genus belonging to the family Asparagaceae is represented by nine species and two varieties in the Himalayan region, the northeast and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • But Dracaena cambodiana is the only true dragon tree species.
  • The Dracaena seeds are usually dispersed by birds. But due
    to the large fruit size, only a few species of birds are able
    to swallow the fruits, thus limiting the scope of its nature
    conservation.

7 New Species Of Insects That Can Walk On Water Discovered

  • The newly described species belong to the genus Mesovelia
    whose size ranges from 1.5 mm to 4.5 mm and are equipped
    with hydrophobic setae (bristles) on their legs.
  • The combination of hydrophobic setae and water surface
    tension prevents them from sinking.
  • The insects are pale green with silver-white wings with
    black veins on the basal half which make them stand out
    over the green mat of aquatic weeds.
  • Among the new discoveries, Mesovelia andamana is from
    Andaman Islands, bispinosa and M. isiasi are from Meghalaya, M. occulta and M. tenuia from Tamil Nadu and M.brevia and M. dilatata live both in Meghalaya and Tamil Nadu.

Evolution

  •  These bugs are hemimetabolous insects without having
    larval stage i.e., they go from egg to nymph to adult.
  • They are found on freshwater bodies such as ponds, lakes,
    pools, streams, rocks with moss and sometimes on estuaries.
  • These bugs serve as predators and scavengers (feed on
    midges, water fleas, feed on dead and dying mosquitoes),
    thereby removing organic waste and also providing a natural sanitation service.
  • The females of Mesovelia are larger than males and dig
    several holes on plants and insert eggs in plant tissues with
    a specially adapted long serrated ovipositor (genital organ).

Emperor Penguin Colony In Antarctica Vanishes

  • The emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) is the tallest
    and heaviest of all living penguin species and is endemic
    to Antarctica.
  • Like all penguins, it is flightless, with a streamlined body,
    and wings stiffened and flattened into flippers for a marine habitat.
  • Its diet consists primarily of fish, but also includes crustaceans, such as krill, and cephalopods, such as squid.
  • The only penguin species that breeds during the Antarctic winter, emperor penguins trek 50–120 km over the ice to breeding colonies which can contain up to several thousand individuals.
  • In 2012 the emperor penguin was uplisted from a species of least concern to near threatened by the IUCN.

Arctic Kelp Forests

  • Kelp is a type of large brown seaweed that grows in shal-low, nutrient-rich saltwater, near coastal fronts around the world.
  • They occur on rocky coasts throughout the Arctic.
  • Kelp is a type of large brown seaweed that grows in shallow, nutrient-rich saltwater, near coastal fronts around the world.
  • They occur on rocky coasts throughout the Arctic.
  • The longest kelp recorded in the Arctic in Canada was 15 metres, and the deepest was found at 60-metre depth (Disko Bay, Greenland).
  • Kelps function underwater in the same way trees do on land. They create habitat and modify the physical environment by shading light and softening waves.
  • The underwater forests that Kelps create are used by many animals for shelter and food.More than 350 different species – up to 100,000 small invertebrates – can live on a single kelp plant, and many fish, birds and mammals depend on the whole forest.
  • Kelp forests also help protect coastlines by decreasing the power of waves during storms and reducing coastal erosion.

Neelakurinji Blossom

  • Kurinji or Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthianus) is a shrub that is found in the shola forests of the Western Ghats in South India
  • Nilgiri Hills, which literally means the blue mountains, got their name from the purplish-blue flowers of Neelakurinji that blossoms only once in 12 years.
  • It is the most rigorously demonstrated, with documented bloomings in 1838, 1850, 1862, 1874, 1886, 1898, 1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006 and 2018
  • Some Kurinji flowers bloom once every seven years, and then die. Their seeds subsequently sprout and continue the cycle of life and death.

Kashmir Stag (Hangul)

  • Hangul, the state animal of Jammu & Kashmir, is restricted to the Dachigam National Park some 15 km north-west of Jammu & Kashmir summer capital Srinagar.
  • The Hangul is placed under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and the J&K Wildlife Protection Act, 1978.
  • The Hangul was once widely distributed in the mountains of Kashmir and parts of Chamba district in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh.
  • The IUCN’s Red List has classified it as Critically Endan-gered and is similarly listed under the Species Recovery Programme of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the Environmental Information System (ENVIS) of the MoEFCC.
  • From a population of 5,000 in the early 1900s, the Hangul’s numbers have constantly declined over the decades.
  • The Hangul is considered equally significant to the state of Jammu & Kashmir as the tiger is to the whole of India.
  • The Paliyan tribal people living in Tamil Nadu used it as a reference to calculate their age.
  • It is the only Asiatic survivor or subspecies of the European red deer.
  • But the state animal’s decreasing population remains a big concern.
  • According to the latest survey in 2017, the population of Hangul is 182 in Dachigam and adjoining areas. Earlier population estimates suggest that there were 197 deer in 2004 and 186 in 2015. T
  • The IUCN Red Data Book — which contains lists of species at risk of extinction — has declared the Hangul as one of three species that were critically endangered in J&K.
  • The other two are the Markhor — the world’s largest species of wild goat found in Kashmir and several regions of central Asia — and the Tibetan antelope or ‘Chiru’.

Great Indian Bustard

  • The Great Indian Bustard (GIB) is one of the few species that the Government of India has included in its ‘recovery programme for critically endangered species’.
  • With less than 200 GIBs remaining in the world, most of them were found in Rajasthan’s ‘Desert National Park’. We are on the brink of forever losing a majestic bird species, which was once a strong contender to be declared as India’s National Bird.
  • Habitat: Arid and semi-arid grasslands, open country with thorn scrub, tall grass interspersed with cultivation.
  • It avoids irrigated areas. It is endemic to Indian Sub-continent. found in central India, westem India and eastern Pakistan.
  • Currently, it is found in only six states in the country Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka. Protection: Listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
  • It is also listed in Appendix I of CITES and covered under CMS or Bonn Convention.
  • Bustard Species Found in India: Great Indian Bustard, the Lesser Florican and the Bengal Florican; Houbara also belong to Bustard family but it’s a migratory species.
  • Importance to Ecosystem: GIB is an indicator species for grassland habitats and its gradual disappearance from such environments shows their deterioration. Once the species is lost. there will be no other species to replace it, and that will destabilise the ecosystem of the grassland and affect critical bio-diversities, as well as blackbucks and wolves, who share their habitat with the GIB.
  • Conservation Steps: Great Indian Bustard, popularly known as ‘Godawan is Rajasthan’s state bird. The state government has started “Project Godawan” for its conservation at Desert National Park (DNP) in Jaisalmer. It’s one of the Spades for The Recovery Programme under the Integrated Development of  Wildlife Habitats of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Tasmanian Tiger

  • The Tasmanian tiger or thylacine (a dog headed pouched dog) was an exclusively carnivorous marsupial that is considered to be extinct.
  • It has resemblance to a dog, with its distinguishing features being the dark stripes beginning at the rear of its body and extending into its tail, its stiff tail and abdominal pouch.
  • The last known thylacine died in captivity over 80 years ago, in Tasmania’s Hobart Zoo in 1936.
  • It may also be the only mammal to have become extinct in Tasmania since the European settlement.

Adratiklit boulahfa

  • Named Adratiklit boulahfa, it is also the first stegosaurus to be found in North Africa.
  • Its remains were discovered in the Middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco.
  • The scientists believe it is not only a new species but also belongs to a new genus.
  • The name is derived from the words used by the Berber (an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa) for mountains (Adras), lizard (tiklit) and and the area where the specimen was found. (Boulahfa).

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