BSI 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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New Ginger species with medicinal properties discovered in Andamans

Scientists from Botanical Survey of India (BSI) have discovered a new species of Zingiber (commonly referred as ginger) from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The new species has been named as Zingiber pseudosquarrosum and belongs to genus Zingiber. It is used for its medicinal values by the local Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) of the Andamans.

Key Facts
  • The pseudo stem of Zingiber pseudosquarrosum is red in colour. Its flowers are lotus shaped and have a vermilion tinge and dehisced fruit.
  • This species has tuberous root and its inflorescence buds are urceolate in shape. The morphological features of this species make it distinct from other species belonging to the genus Zingiber.
  • Like other species of Gingers, it is edible and can be propagated vegetatively from the rhizome.
  • The new species possesses ethno-medicinal uses. The fresh extract (juice) of fleshy tuberous roots of this species is used to treat abdominal pain and anti-helminthic troubles by native tribal communities.
Note

There are 141 species of genus Zingiber distributed throughout tropical Asia, including China, Japan and tropical Australia. Of these, 20 are reported from India, which include seven ( including Zingiber pseudosquarrosum) from Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Species belonging to genera Zingiber are monocotyledonous flowering plants and their hizomes are widely used as a spice or a traditional medicine. Commonly used species of Zingiber are known for its aromatic smell is cultivated widely across India.

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