UPSC Exam   »   Biodiversity Hotspots in India

Biodiversity Hotspots in India

 

What is biodiversity?

  • Biodiversity or biological diversity refers to the variety of living species on Earth, including plants, animals, bacteria, and fungi.
  • The term biological diversity was used first by Arthur Harris (1916), who was an American botanist.
  • The term, “biodiversity” was first coined by Walter G. Rosen in 1985.
  • Generally, biodiversity is divided into three fundamental categories namely genetic diversity, species diversity, and ecosystem diversity.

 

What are biodiversity hotspots?

  • The term ‘biodiversity hotspot’ was first coined by Norman Myers (1988).
  • He recognised 10 tropical forests as “hotspots” according to the level of plant endemism and high level of habitat loss. It, however, did not had any quantitative criteria for designating a region ecological hotspot.
  • Two years later, he added eight more hotspots, which increased the number of hotspots in the world increased to 18.
  • The Conservation International (CI), subsequently, associated with Myers and made the first systematic update of the hotspots.
  • CI then introduced the following two strict quantitative criteria, for a region to qualify as a hotspot:
    • It must contain at least 1,500 species of vascular plants (> 0.5% of the world’s total) as endemics;
    • It has to have lost ≥ 70% of its original native habitat.

 

Biodiversity Hotspots in India_40.1

 

Biodiversity hotspots in India

  • Out of the 36 biodiversity hotspots in the world, 4 are in India. These hotspots are: the Himalayas, the Western Ghats, the Indo-Burma region and the Sundaland.

 

The Himalayas

  • Overall, the Himalayas comprises North-East India, Bhutan, Central and Eastern parts of Nepal.
  • These Himalayan Mountains are the highest in the world and hosts some of the highest peaks of the world including Mount Everest and K2.
  • It also includes some of the major rivers of the world like Indus and Ganga.
  • Himalayas hosts almost 163 endangered species including one-horned rhinoceros, wild Asian water buffalo and as many as 45 mammals, 50 birds, 12 amphibians, 17 reptiles, 3 invertebrates and 36 plant species.

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The Western Ghats

  • These hills are found along the western edge of peninsular India.
  • As the region is mountainous and oceanic, it receives a good amount of rainfall.
  • Around 77% of the amphibians and 62% of the reptiles are endemic.
  • Moreover, the region is also home to around 450 species of birds, 140 mammals, 260 reptiles and 175 amphibians.

 

Biodiversity Hotspots in India_50.1

 

Indo-Burma region

  • This region consists of various countries including North-Eastern India (to the south of the Brahmaputra River), Myanmar, and China’s Yunnan provinces, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand.
  • Almost 13,500 plant species can be spotted in the region, half of which are endemic and cannot be found in any other place in the world.
  • Although this region is quite rich in its biodiversity, the situation has been worsening over the past few decades.

 

Sundaland

  • This region lies in South-East Asia and includes Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, and Malaysia.
  • Nicobar region represents India in this hotspot.
  • UNESCO declared this region as the world biosphere reserve in 2013.
  • These islands have a rich terrestrial as well as marine ecosystem including mangroves, seagrass beds, and coral reefs.

 

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