Environment Current Affairs - 2020

Latest Environment Current Affairs 2019 for UPSC Exams, Bank Exams, Civil Services, SSC and other Competitive Exams. Latest developments in Environment and Climate Change 2019 all important national updates in Environment events for the year 2019.

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India is home to 1,256 species of orchid: 1st comprehensive survey

According to the first comprehensive census of orchids of India titled ‘Orchids of India: A Pictorial Guide’, India is home to 1,256 species of orchid. The census containing photographs of 775 species is published recently by the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) was unveiled in early July 2019 Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

In the light of importance of orchids in floriculture, this publication by BSI, which has photographs of 60% of all species, is 1st authentic inventory and thus will be useful for researchers, growers, nature lovers and people with different backgrounds.

Key Findings of Study

1,256 orchid species or taxa belong are found in India.

388 species of orchids are endemic to India. Out of the 388 species about one-third (128) endemic species are found in Western Ghats.

Three life forms: Orchids can be broadly categorised into 3 life forms-

Epiphytic– are plants growing on another plants including those growing on rock boulders and often termed lithophyte. About 60% of all orchids found in India, which is 757 species, are epiphytic. These are abundant up to 1800 m (above sea level) and their occurrence decreases with increase in altitude

Terrestrial– are plants growing on land and climbers. 447 species in India are terrestrial. These grow directly on soil, are found in large numbers in temperate and alpine region.

Mycoheterotrophic– are plants which derive nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi that are attached to the roots of a vascular plant). 43 species in India are mycoheterotrophic. These are mostly associated with ectomycorrhizal fungi, are found in temperate regions, or are found growing with parasites in tropical regions.

Distribution of orchid:

Among 10 Bio Geographic Zones of India, Himalayan zone is richest in terms of orchid species followed by Northeast India, Western Ghats, Deccan plateau and Andaman & Nicobar (A&N) Islands.

North-East India rank at top in species concentration of Orchids.

Western Ghats have high endemism of orchids.

Highest number of orchid species: is recorded from Arunachal Pradesh with 612 species. This is followed by Sikkim with 560 species and West Bengal.

FACT

The entire orchid family is listed under Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Thus any trade of wild orchid is banned globally.

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Extinct bird had an extra-long toe: Study

In 2014 fossil of Elektorornis chenguangi, a small bird which lived nearly 99 million years ago, with a weird elongated toe were discovered in amber tree resin in  Hukawng Valley of Myanmar.

The study was led by Lida Xing, a palaeontologist at China University of Geosciences who specialises in Cretaceous birds and was published in Current Biology.

Key Finding of Study

The bird was found partially buried in amber (fossilized tree resin) with its lower leg and foot remained undisturbed in hardened tree resin until amber miners eventually discovered fossil in Hukawng Valley in 2014.

Preserved toe of bird measures less than half an inch (O.5 inch) from knuckle to claw-tip, which makes it 41% longer than next longest digit on creature’s foot.

Its elongated toe structure has never been observed in other birds either living or even extinct.

Probable Reason: Elektorornis chenguangi may have used long, sensitive digit to probe cracks in trees for insects and grubs.

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