Western Ghats Current Affairs - 2019

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349 new species of flora and fauna discovered in the past one year in India

Scientists and taxonomists in India have discovered 349 new species of flora and fauna in the past one year. Of these discovered flora and fauna 173 species are genera of plants and 176 species of animals.

The list of new discovered species was published by the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) both headquartered in Kolkata, West Bengal.

Key facts

  • Biodiversity hotspots: Most of discoveries were from India’s two Biodiversity hotspots viz Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas. Western Ghats accounted for 22 per cent of the new discoveries.
  • While, the Eastern Himalayas accounted for 15 per cent discovered species. 25 species of seed plants were alone discovered in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Animal species: Of the 176 new animal species discovered 93 species are of insects, 7 species are of collembolans, 12 species of arachnidan, 12 species crustacean and 1 species of mollusca.
  • Reptiles: 2 species of reptiles for the first time have been found in India. One was discovered in Tamil Nadu and another in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Fish: 23 new fish species were discovered. Majority of fish species were discovered in north-east India.
  • Amphibians: 24 new amphibian species were discovered. Most of the new species of amphibians were discovered in the Western Ghats.
  • New records: Apart from the discovered new species, the BSI has also added 105 new records species and ZSI 61 new records species.
  • It should be noted that new records means animals and plants that have been spotted in India for the first time and those are found elsewhere in the world.

In year 2014, 614 new species of plants and animals were discovered which included 366 plants and 248 animal species. With this, 96,891 species of animals and 47,791 species of plants have been recorded so far in India.

Pethia striata, a new species of fish discovered in Western Ghats

A new species of fish called Pethia striata was discovered by ecologists in Tunga River in the Kudremukh National Park, Karnataka.

This finding was published in the journal- American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists by researchers from Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE).

Key characteristics of Pethia striata

  • The fish is native to Western Ghats, a biodiversity hotspot. It is generally found in two streams of Mudba and Turad of Tunga River.
  • The discovery of species is addition to the largest fish family which is scientifically called as Cyprinidae that includes goldfish, common carp and zebrafish.
  • It has have distinct characteristic pattern of scales which form oblique bars and the black blotch just before the tail.
  • The male of the Pethia striata species is red in colour and measures 3-4cm in length, while the female is grey with a striking pattern of scales. They are usually are found in small groups of 3-4 individuals in shallow pools.