Cnemaspis anandani, a rocky gecko endemic to the Western Ghats; Sphaerotheca magadha, a burrowing frog found in the agricultural fields of Jharkhand; Enoplotrupes (Enoplotrupes) tawangensis, a Tawang dung beetle; Ginger Amomum nagamiense, a variety of wild ginger found in the forest behind Kohina Zoo in Nagaland; and Pteris subeiana, a wild fern found not only in Kerala, but also in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra; These are just some of the 544 reasons India needs to applaud, with the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) and Botanical Survey of India (BSI) kicking off the 2019 Animal Discoveries and 2019 Plant Findings on Friday.
- The messages were posted by Babul Supriyo, Union Minister of State, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, during an event at the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanical Garden in Howrah, West Bengal .
- Animal Discoveries 2019 lists 368 species of fauna as new to science and 116 species as the first records from India. “The publication provides details on 360 new species, four subspecies and four fossil species, as well as 116 species first recorded in India,” said Kailash Chandra, director of ZSI.
- Among the new discoveries, 294 species are invertebrates and 74 are vertebrates.
- Insects outnumbered other groups overall and in vertebrates fish diversity is high with 38 new species and five new records. Dr Chandra said that with the new discoveries and new records, India’s wildlife diversity is 1.02,161 species, which is equivalent to 6.52% of all species in the world.
- The director added that in addition to conventional taxonomy, ZSI has introduced modern methods such as DNA barcode, whole genome sequencing and X-rays for the identification of new species.
- Plant Discoveries 2019 lists 180 new plant species and 73 new records discovered in the country.
- New registrations in a country refer to animal or plant species discovered in other parts of the world and registered for the first time in the country.
“This volume of plant discoveries contains 134 plants with seeds; five ferns and allied ferns; six bryophytes; 18 lichens; 51 mushrooms; 23 algae; and 16 microbes. In 2019, vascular plants contributed 55% of all new discoveries and registrations, while non-vascular plants contributed 45%, ”said A. A. Mao, director of BSI.
- Dr Mao said that among the new discoveries this year were plants of horticultural value as well as those which can serve as alternative food such as arid, syzygium (wild jamun), impatiens, mushrooms and zinc fibers, among others.
- The number of plant species found in India according to BSI is 50,012 and represents about 12% of all flora species in the world.
- ZSI and BSI have published Animal Finds and Plant Findings since 2007, and this is the thirteenth publication in the series. Analysis of data from the last decade reveals that a total of 2,444 species of wildlife communities have been recently described in India, while the number of plant species described in the same period is around 3,500.
- Most of the new finds were reported from biogeographic hotspots across the country.
- Data provided by BSI indicates that 28% of all plant discoveries in 2018 were made in the Western Ghats in 2019; followed by the eastern Himalayas (21%); the east coast (11%); and the eastern plains (10%).
- The west coast contributed 7% of the total discoveries, while the western Himalayas contributed 6% of the finds.
- “The maximum number of discoveries (of flora) have been made in the state of Kerala, followed by Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Arunachal Pradesh,” the BSI publication said.