Environment Current Affairs 2017

Latest Environment Current Affairs 2017 for UPSC Exams, Bank Exams, Civil Services, SSC and other Competitive Exams. Latest developments in Environment and Climate Change 2017 all important national updates in Environment events for the year 2017

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Scientists discover four new miniature frog species in Western Ghats

Scientists have discovered four new species of miniature night frogs no bigger than a human thumbnail in Western Ghats, a global biodiversity hotspot.

These species were discovered among the seven new ‘Night Frogs’ by a team of researchers from the University of Delhi and Kerala Forest Department.

Key Facts
  • Four new species of miniature night frogs are (i) Athirappilly Night Frog: It was discovered close to the Athirappilly waterfalls. (ii) Sabarimala Night Frog: It was discovered near the Sabarimala hill shrine.  (iii) The Radcliffe’s Night frog and (iv) Kadalar Night Frog: They were reported from plantation areas.
  • Night Frogs belong to the Nyctibatrachus genus, endemic to the Western Ghats. They make a distinctive chirping sound comparable to that of a cricket.
  • These tiny amphibians are present in abundance in the region but were overlooked in the past because of their extremely small size, secretive habitats and insect-like calls.
  • They were confirmed as the new species with the help of integrated taxonomic approach that included DNA studies, detailed bioacoustics and morphological comparisons.
  • Threats: Over 32% of the frog species in the Western Ghats are threatened with extinction. Out of the seven new species, 5 face considerable anthropogenic extinction threats and require immediate conservation.
  • Ancient Group: Night Frogs represent an ancient group of frogs that diversified on the Indian landmass approximately 70 to 80 million years ago.
  • Total Nyctibatrachus species: This discovery has taken the total number of known Nyctibatrachus species to 35, of which 20% are less than 18 mm in size (i.e. they are diminutive).
  • As many as 103 new amphibian species were discovered from biodiversity rich Western Ghats region between 2006 and 2015.

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National Biodiversity Congress 2017 held in Kerala

The National Biodiversity Congress (NBC) 2017 was held in Thiruvananthapuram, capital of Kerala. The event is hosted by the Kerala State Biodiversity Board.

NBC is one of the significant biodiversity mega events of the country. It aims to identify practical, evidence-based case studies at the regional level to support the plan of action. 

Key Facts
  • The focal theme of 2017 NBC was “Mainstreaming Biodiversity for Sustainable Development”.
  • This edition of the event had organised array of programmes including exhibition, conference, capacity building workshops and Children’s Biodiversity Congress.
  • National Biodiversity Conference, governed by a national advisory committee comprising biodiversity conservation experts was also held.
  • Number of experts in field of biodiversity conservation had delivered keynote address and plenary lectures on variety of key issues related to biodiversity conservation, sustainable utilisation and benefit sharing.
  • Members of academic and research institutions, civil society, biodiversity management committees, NGOs, farmers, students, corporates also participated in the event.

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Scientists discover 1970s banned chemicals in deep ocean fauna

Scientists for the first time have found high levels of human-made pollutants, including chemicals that were banned in the 1970s, in the tissues of marine creatures dwelling in the deepest oceans of the Earth.

These chemicals were discovered after sampling amphipods from the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana and Kermadec trenches, which are over 10 km deep and 7,000 km apart.

Key Facts
  • Researchers found presence of extremely high levels of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in the organism’s fatty tissue.
  • These POPs include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) which are commonly used as electrical insulators and flame retardants.
  • These banned pollutants are invulnerable to natural degradation and persist in the environment for decades. They may have been released into the environment through industrial accidents.
  • Researchers claim that these pollutants may have found their way to deep trenches through contaminated plastic debris and dead animals sinking to bottom of ocean, where they were consumed by amphipods and other fauna.
  • These sampled amphipods contained levels of contamination similar to that found in Suruga Bay, one of the most polluted industrial zones of the north-west Pacific.
  • Thus, this research shows that the remote and pristine oceanic realm which was earlier considered safe from human impact is actually not.

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