ZSI Current Affairs

India’s biodiversity riches increases by 499 species

According to the Animal Discoveries 2016, New Species and Records, brought out by the Zoological Survey of India and Plant Discoveries 2016, by the Botanical Survey of India, 499 new species have been discovered from various parts of the country last year.

Salient Highlights

Animals

Of the new discoveries, 258 are invertebrates and 55 are vertebrates. Around 97 are insects, 27 are fish, 12 are amphibians, 10 are Platyhelminthes, nine are Crustacea, six species of reptiles, 61 species of moths and butterflies and 38 of beetles.

The new species are known to occur in the four biological hotspots of the country, namely, the Himalayas, the northeast, the Western Ghats and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

As per the Animal Discoveries 2016, the number of animal species in the country for the first time has crossed one lakh to number 1,00,693. Till last year, the number of animal species in India was 97,514. India is one of the 17 megadiversity countries and is home to 6.42% of the global fauna.

Plants

As per Plant Discoveries 2016 , 186 new species of plants have been discovered including seven new genera, four subspecies and nine new varieties taking the total number of species to 206. The publication lists 113 new records from India.

The new species of the plant were discovered in the Western Ghats (17%), followed by the Eastern Himalayas (15%), the Western Himalayas (13%), the Eastern Ghats (12%) and the west coast (8%).

Eight new species of wild balsams, five species of wild ginger and one species of wild amla has been discovered. In addition, 39 varieties of mushrooms have been discovered.

BSI

The Botanical Survey of India (BSI) is the apex research organization under the MOEF for carrying out taxonomic and floristic studies on wild plant resources of the country. BSI was established on 13th February, 1890 with the basic objective to explore the plant resources of the country and to identify the plants species with economic virtues.

ZSI
The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) was launched in 1916. It is India’s apex organization on animal taxonomy. It’s objective is to promote the survey, exploration, research and documentation on various aspects of animal taxonomy in the Indian subcontinent. It also seeks advancement of knowledge on animal taxonomy. It has been declared as the designated repository for the National Zoological Collection as per section 39 of the National Biodiversity Act, 2002

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Gymnothorax indicus, new species of eel found in Bay of Bengal

Scientists from have discovered Gymnothorax indicus (proposed name Indian unpatterened moray), a new species of eel (a snake-like fish) in the northern Bay of Bengal region along the West Bengal coast.

It was discovered after it was collected in a trawl net by fishermen in northern Bay of Bengal, about 70 km off the coast.

About Gymnothorax indicus

  • The ell species Gymnothorax indicus is slender-bodied. It was found at a depth of 35 metres in the sea.
  • It is about one feet-long and edible. It has 194 vertebrae. Its dorsal fin has a black margin.
  • The body of the eel is uniformly pale brown without spots or patterns. Its eye rim is pale.

Significance of discovery: Scientists believe that these newly discovered eel species may contribute to food security in the future.

Eaten in coastal areas

Eels are found mostly at the bottom of rivers and seas. Globally, about 1,000 species of eels have been identified. In India their number is around 125. Eels are local delicacy in many countries like Japan. But consumption of eels in India is limited to coastal areas.

Rich marine biodiversity in Bay of Bengal

  • The coastal region of West Bengal adjoining areas of Bay of Bengal are the rich marine biodiversity. Over the past few years, it has yielded two new species of fish.
  • In 2015, Gymnothorax mishrai (Bengal moray eel), a short brown unpatterned moray eel was discovered.
  • Scientists also had discovered another new species of Haplogenys bengalensis (Indian velvetchin), an edible marine fish from the same area.

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