BIODIVERSITY HOTSPOT :
Biodiversity is the collection of flora and fauna of a place. Biodiversity Hotspot is a region which is a prime location for the existence of rich biodiversity but also faces the threat of destruction. It is a place which needs our immediate and constant attention to survive and thrive in the future as well. This idea of identifying hotspots was put forth by Norman Myers in 1988. By now, a total of 35 biodiversity hotspots have been identified out of which most of them lie in tropical forests. Almost 2.3% of the land surface of Earth is represented by these hotspots. These also comprise of around 50% of the world’s most common plant species and 42% of terrestrial vertebrates prevalent. Sadly, these biodiversity hotspots have been losing 86% of their habitats some of which are still on the verge of extinction due to serious threats posed by climate change and human intervention.
BIODIVERSITY HOTSPOT IN MAHARASHTRA :
India’s western state and economy hub Maharashtra is also blessed with verdant natural beauty. With the biodiversity hot spot Western Ghats beginning from this state, the Zoological Survey of India recently found that the state has 1065 species of vertebrates and 642 species of invertebrates. The assessment was carried out by ZSI beginning from the time of its inception in 1959 till last year. The areas for the study included the protected areas national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, tiger reserve, wetlands and almost all districts of the state.
RICH BIODIVERSITY IN INDIA :
As it has been already mentioned, India is a country rich in biological diversity. It is situated in the Indomalaya ecozone and comprises of 2 out of the 35 biodiversity hotspots in the world. The third one, that is, Indo Burma lies partially in North-East India. In India, there are approximate-
-350 mammals which make up 7.6% of world species
-1224 birds which make up 2.6% of the world species
-197 amphibians which make up 4.4% of the world species
-408 reptiles which make up 6.2% of the world species
-2546 fishes which make up 11.7% of the world species
-15000 flowering plants which make up 6% of the world species.
HISTORY OF BIODIVERSITY IN INDIA :
India originally belonged to Gondwana from where many Indian species (descendants of taxa) originated. Due to the collision of Peninsular India with the Laurasian landmass, there was a mass exchange of species which took place. However, what caused most turmoil was the eruption of volcanoes and climate change 20 million years ago which led to the extinction of many Indian forms. After this, mammals were seen entering India through from Asia through the Himalayas as a result of which out of the Indian species, there were 12.6% mammals and 4.5% birds which were endemic and 45.8% reptiles as well as 55.8% amphibians.
IN THE INDIA WESTERN GHATS:
There are more than 6000 vascular plants here which belong to more than 2500 genus. 3000 plants out of these are endemic. Most of the spices found in the world such as black pepper and cardamom all are believed to have originated in the Western Ghats. Most of the species are however present in the Agasthyamalai Hills situated in extreme South. The region is also home to around 450 species of birds, 140 mammals, 260 reptiles and 175 amphibians. Such diversity is quite beautiful as well as rare but now lies on the verge of extinction. The vegetation in this region was originally spread over 190,000 square kilometres but has reduced to 43,000 square kilometres today. Only 1.5% of the original forest is still prevalent in Sri Lanka.