The term ‘biodiversity’ encompasses the variety of all life forms on earth. It is identified as the variability among living organisms and the ecological complexes of which they are part, including diversity within and between species and ecosystem. In simple words it can be defined as “variety, variability between genes, species and ecosystems” The term biodiversity was first coined by Walter and Rosen in 1985.
There are three levels of Diversity Species diversity Genetic diversity Ecosystem or Habitat diversity
It is defines as variety of different species of living forms in a given area. India has around 2,00,000 species of the total species described. The species diversity peaks in the tropical forest and coral reefs.
It is defined as “The variation at the level of individual genes” OR “The heritable variation within and between populations of organisms” The more genetic diversity in a population, the more chances in variations. These variations help the individuals to have a variant that help it to be suite for the new environment.
Ecosystem is the structural and functional unit of the biosphere. Ecosystem diversity is defined as „the aggregation of various habitats, community types and abiotic environment in a given area‟ India has one of the richest ecosystem diversity, ranging from deserts, plains, hills, mangroves, rainforests to cold Himalayas.
Out of the 18 hot spots of biodiversity recognized in the world, India has two of them, viz. Eastern Himalaya and The Western Ghats. Eastern Himalayas is recognized as the “Cradle of Speciation” due to rich diversity of primitive flowering plants.
These are the species found only in a particular geographical region because of its isolation, soil and climatic conditions.
1. Jenkin’s, Andaman & Nicobar shrew (Crocidura jenkensii, C. andamanensis, C. nicobarica)2. Salim Ali’s fruit bat (Latidens salimali)3. Wroughton’s free-tailed bat (Otomops wroughtoni)4. Leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros hypophyyllus)5. Lion tailed macaque (Macaca silenus)6. Andaman, Kerala, Palm rat (Rattus stoicus, R.ranjiniae, R.palmarum)7. Kondana soft furred rat (Millardia kondana)8. Nilgiri leaf monkey (Trachypithecus johnii)9. Namdapha flying squirrel (Biswamayopterus biswasi)10. Indian flying squirrel (Ratufa indica)11. Nilgiri tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius)
These are the species whose population number are decreasing and are likely to become endangered with time. The list of threatened animals have been listed in a book called “RED DATA BOOK” RDB. RDB was first formulated by Sir Peter Scott. The major threatened categories under IUCN are Extinct (Ex), Endangered (En), Vulnerable (VU), Rare (R) & Interminate species. The list of few mammals which occur in India and are rated as threatened in the 2003 IUCN (International Union of Conservation of Nature and Natural resources) red list are displayed in the next slide.
1. Asiatic wild ass (Equus hemionus)2. Gaur (Bos frontalis)3. Nilgiri leaf monkey (Trachypicthecus johnii)4. Slow loris (Loris tardigradus)5. Sikkim rat (Rattus sikkimensis)6. Andaman rat (Rattus stoicus)7. Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus)8. Barasingha (Cervus duvauceli)9. Four-horned antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis)10. Blackbuck (Antilope cervicarpus)11. Himalayan tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus)12. Indian giant squirrel (Ratufa indica)13. Wild goat (Capra aegagrus)14. Leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros hypuphyllus)15. Assamese macaque (Macaca assamensis)
Lion – Tailed Nilgiri leaf Leaf nosed Bat Macaque MonkeyAsiatic wild Ass Indian Rhinoceros Slow Loris
These are the species whose numbers are critically low and their habitat is so drastically reduced that they are in danger of extinction. At present, approximately: 81 species of mammal 38 species of birds 18 species of amphibians and reptiles are considered endangered in species in India.
1. Jenkin’s shrew (Crocidura jenkensii)2. Namdapha flying squirrel (Biswama yopterus biswasi)3. Salim Ali’s fruit bat (Latidens salimali)4. Wroughton’s free-tailed bat (Otomops wroughtoni)5. Malabar large spotted civet (Viverra civettina)6. Pygmy hog (Sus salvanius)7. Sumatran rhinoceros(Dicerorhinus sumartrensis)
1. Andaman Shrew (Crocidura andamanensis)2. Nicobar Shrew (Crocidura nicobarica)3. Lion tailed macaque (Macaca silenus)4. Marsh mongoose (Herpestes palustris)5. Capped leaf monkey (Trachypithecus pileatus)6. Nilgiri tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius)7. Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)8. Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis)9. Indus river dolphin (Platansita minor)10. Ganges river dolphin (Platansita gangetica)11. Andaman spiny shrew (Crocidura hispida)12. Asiatic lion (Panthera leoperscia)13. Giant indian bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps)14. Indian rock python (Python molurus)15. Red panda (Ailurus fulgens)
Barasingha Four horned Black buck AntilopeAssamese Indian Giant Ganges RiverMacaque Squirrel Dolphin
Biodiversity is known for its multiple benefits. The three main benefits commonly cited for preservation of biodiversity are: Economic benefits Ecological benefits Ethical benefits
Significant economic benefits associated with biodiversity are: Food: All our food comes from plants and animals. About 80,000 plant species are potential food sources. Agriculture: The genetic diversity of wild plants are used to produce better strains of crops with superior yields. Medicine: Medicinal plants re of great demand in modern pharmaceutical industry because today’s synthetic drugs owe their origin to plants. Industry: The wood from plants is being used in industries for clothing, shelter, as fuel, as raw material for paper, rayon, plastic, for construction purpose, etc.
The modern green revolution, the farmers began to lose their traditional systems of sustainable agriculture. However the Beej Bachao Andolan (BBA) has helped to revive the traditional farming methods.
There are more than 10,000 varieties of cereals but human have concentrate only on four namely; Rice, Wheat, Corn and Jowar.Examples of some are listed in the next slide.
Buck wheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is a pseudocereal cultivated in hilly regions of south India and himalyan range. The grains are rich in protein and carbohydrates. The leaves are also used as vegetable. The flowers produce nectar, which is used to extract honey. Amaranthus is a pseudocereal grown in South Indian plains and Himalayan region. The grains are rich in protein, fats and carbohydrates. It is also used as a vegetable. Chenopod is an important crop of Himalayan region and grains are edible and rich source of proteins and carbohydrates. The grains are also used for alcohol preparation. Spirulina is blue green algae. Entire alga is used. It contains nearly 60% proteins and is considered as cheapest source of proteins. It also contains vitamins and minerals. One gram of Spirulina is equivalent to one Kg of assorted food.
Field Rats: are consumed by Iruliga tribal people of South India. The meat is very nutritive. Field rats cause extensive damage to crop yield. Using smoke rats are captured from rat holes in crop fields. This also helps in controlling the population. Wild Rabbits: are hunted by tribals of South India using dogs. The meat of wild rabbit is considered as delicacy. Bats: are also consumed by tribals. Bat meat is highly nutritious. Snakes: are eaten by tribal people of Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. Snake meat is rich in proteins. Pigeons: (Grey Doves) are eaten by many tribals. The meat is rich in protein and vitamins. The meat and blood of animal has medicinal significance.
Aloe vera: It belongs to family Lilliaceae. The fleshy leaves are used. Aloin is extracted. It is used in piles treatment and cosmetic formulation. Catharanthus rosea (Vinca): It belongs to the family Apocyanaceae. From this plant nearly 70 alkoloids are isolated. The two important alkaloids are Vinblastin and Vincristin. Vinblastin is used in the treatment of Hodgkin’s disease. Vincristin is cytotoxic agent and is used in treatment of Leukemia. Rauwolfia serpentine (Serpaganda): It belongs to the family Apocyanaceae. All parts of plants are used. Main alkaloids like serpentine and reserpine are extracted. It is used as a hypotensive agent and tranquilizer. Used in the treatment of Epilepsy, Schizophrenia, Heart problems and High B.P.
Datura: It belongs to family Solanaceae. Stem, roots, leaves and fruit are used. Alkaloids like hyoscyamine and hyoscine are extracted. Used in the treatment of bronchitis and Asthma as antispasmodic and sedative. Withania somnifera (Aswagandha): It belongs to family Solanaceae. The dried roots and stem base are used. It is used in the treatment of insomnia, asthma, bronchitis, tuberculosis, arthritis and cancer.
Aloe vera Catharanthus rosea (Vinca) Rauwolfia serpentine (Serpaganda):
Biodiversity is important for maintenance and sustainable utilization of goods and services from ecological systems. The services include formation and protection of soil, conservation and purification of water, maintenance of hydrological cycle etc. Forest vegetation provides natural protection to soil as soil binders that prevent soil erosion and also slows down water flow to down stream areas. The pores and cracks found in between soil particles act as natural filters purifying water as it drips through the forest ecosystem. This not only helps in protection and conservation fertile topsoil, but also maintains ground water.
Plants absorb water from soil or water reservoirs and add it to the air as vapour by transpiration. Animal and plants also lose water in vapour form by respiration. Water vapour formed by transpiration and respiration form clouds and enter global water cycle (hydrological cycle). Soil microbes (decomposers) and soil animals like earthworms help in efficient breakdown of organic matter into inorganic nutrients, thus enriching the soil fertility.
Throughout human history, people have related the very existence of human race to biodiversity through cultural, spiritual and religious beliefs. Many plants, animals, forest, landscapes and rivers are considered as sacred and worshiped by the people. Today these have become cultural heritage. These beliefs have played an effective role in conservation of many species of plants and animals especially preservation of many endemic and rare species.
▪ Sacred species: Traditionally conserved plant and animal species of religious and cultural importance are called sacred species. Ex: Plants like Tulasi, Neem, Ashoka tree and Pipal tree. Animals like Cow, Monkey and Cobra etc.
Sacred grooves: It is a small patch of land withnatural fauna and flora protected by the localcommunity in dedication of deities or theirancestral spirits. Scared grooves range from fewtrees like Nagabanas (serpent abodes) to smallpatches of forest areas covering few kilometers likeDevara kadu (dedicated to deities) andBoothasthanas (Devil abodes). There are about17,000 known sacred grooves in India. Sacredgrooves are storehouse of many rare and endemicspecies.
Sacred Landscapes: It is a large heterogenous area that contains a variety of natural and traditionally managed ecosystems. For example the river Ganga is considered as Holy River. The stretch of Ganga between Haridwar and Rishikesh is conserved as Machhiyal where fishing is banned. In Karnataka, important sacred landscapes include Kudachadri hills in Western Ghats of Kollur, BR Hills around the temple and Bababudangiri Hills.