India richer by 349 new species

The flower Impatiens paramjitiana. Photo: BSI/ZSI  

At a time when plants and animals are under threat across the world, nature lovers and conservationists in India have 349 reasons to feel happy. Scientists and taxonomists of the country have discovered 349 new species of flora and fauna in the past one year — 173 species and genera of plants and 176 species of animals.

The list of new discoveries by the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), both headquartered here, were released on the World Environment Day on June 5.

“Of the new plants, some of the significant findings include nine new taxa of wild Musa (bananas), four species of black plum (jamun), three species of wild gingibers and 10 species of orchids,” BSI director Paramjit Singh told The Hindu.

Biodiversity hotspots

According to scientists of the BSI, the Western Ghats accounted for 22 per cent of the new discoveries, while the Eastern Himalayas and the north-eastern States each accounted for 15 per cent of the species found.

In Arunachal Pradesh alone, 25 species of seed plants were discovered.

At the ZSI, 176 new species were added to the list of animals of India. These include 93 species of insects, seven species of collembolans, 12 species each of arachnidan and crustacean and one species of mollusca.

Reptiles too

Interestingly, two species of reptiles have also been located for the first time in the country — one in Tamil Nadu and another in Madhya Pradesh.

“As in the previous year, insects outnumbered other animal groups this year also. But surprisingly, a large number of amphibians and fish made it to the list with 24 and 23 new species respectively,” ZSI director K. Venkataraman told The Hindu.

While most of the new species of amphibians were discovered from the Western Ghats, majority of fish species were from north-east India.

Scientists of both BSI and ZSI agree that the Western Ghats and the northeast are biodiversity hotspots where most new species were found.

Apart from the new species, the BSI has also added 105 new records and ZSI 61 ‘new records.’ Animals and plants that are found elsewhere in the world but have been spotted in India for the first time are called ‘new records.’

Last year, 614 new species of plants and animals — 366 plants and 248 animals — were discovered. “It is natural that with every passing year, the number of new discoveries will decrease,” Mr. Venkataraman said. In India, 96,891 species of animals and 47,791 species of plants have been recorded so far.

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 11:41:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/india-richer-by-349-new-species/article7302626.ece

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