Ecosystem Diversity (F)

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WHAT IS BIODIVERSITY? Ever since the happening of the earth summit at Rio De Janeiro, Brazil the term biodiversity has become a buzzword. The term 'biodiversity' encompasses the variety of all life on earth. It is identified as the variability among living organisms and the ecological complexes of which they are part, including diversity within and between species and ecosystems. In fact it is the contracted form of Biological Diversity .   Quite simply it can be defined as variety, variability, between genes, species and ecosystems.

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Biodiversity manifests itself at three levels: Species diversity which refers to the numbers and kinds of living organisms Genetic diversity, which refers to the genetic variation within a population of species. Ecosystem diversity, which is the variety of habitats, biological communities and ecological processes that occur in the biosphere.

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Why Conserve Biodiversity? Biological diversity affects us all. Biological diversity has direct consumptive value in food, agriculture, medicine, industry. It also has aesthetic and recreational value. Biodiversity maintains ecological balance and continues evolutionary process. The indirect ecosystem services provided through biodiversity are photosynthesis, pollination, transpiration, chemical cycling, nutrient cycling, soil maintenance, climate regulation, air, water system management, and waste treatment and pest control. Quite Often asked Question ?

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Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) The three preambles of Biodiversity are: Conservation of Biodiversity Sustainable use of Biodiversity and leaving enough for the future generations. Fair and equitable sharing of Profits arising out of the use of biodiversity

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MEGABIODIVERSITY COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD India is one of the twelve-mega biodiversity countries of the world and one of the four in Asia. Megabiodiversity? :Countries that contain as much as 7-8% per cent of the world's species. The twelve Megabiodiversity countries that have been identified are : India,Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Madagascar, Zaire, Australia, China, Indonesia and Malaysia.

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Ecosystem Diversity of India Indian Ecosystems and their diversity is usually at three levels: 1. Major Natural Habitats- Forests, Grasslands, Deserts, Wetlands (including Estuaries, Mangroves, Coral reefs and Marine) 2. High Mountain Ranges (Biotic Provinces: Trans-Himalaya, North -West Himalaya, Eastern Himalaya, including NE India) and Islands 3. Biogeographic regions – Western Ghats, Deccan Peninsula, Eastern Ghats (Eco-region)

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Biogeographic Zones of India

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The Indian Himalaya has been divided into three Biogeographic divisions Biogeographic Zones Biotic Province States The Trans Himalaya 1. Upper Regions J& K and HP Himalayan 1. NW Himalaya J&K and HP 2.West Himalaya HP and Uttaranchal 3. Central Himalaya Sikkim,WB 4. East Himalaya A.Pradesh 3. North East India 1. North-East HillsAssam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura

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Mountains: Trans-Himalaya

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Trans-Himalaya 92.8% of this zone lies outside Indian territory, in the Tibetan Autonomous region of China. The area includes mainly the districts of Ladakh and Kargil in J & K and Spiti Valley, Lingti Plains (Lahaul Valley and Pooh Tehsil (Kinnaur) in HP. Small areas in rain shadow of Nanda Devi Range (Uttaranchal) and Kangchendzongpa range (Sikkim) are also part of this zone. Elevations vary from 2800m in Indus valley to over 7000m in the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges. Ladakh is bestowed with some very large brackish water lakes like Pangong Tso. Tso morari, Tso Kar etc. The biodiversity here is rich on account of confluence of the two of the world’s main biogeographical regions, the Palaearctic and Oriental.

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Cultivated field and willow trees inTrans-Himalayan region, Ladakh Trans-Himalayan cold desert, Ladakh A lizard Mabua carinata in Trans-Himalaya Himalayan Marmot in Trans-Himalaya in Ladakh

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Tibetan Wild Ass, Kiang in Trans-Himalaya in Ladakh A view of topography of Trans-Himalaya in Ladakh Trans-Himalayan Cold Desert in Ladakh

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C—Critical; E—Endangered; V—Vulnerable; I—Insufficiently Known.

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Himalayan Ecosystem Himalaya is the great range of mountains spread over west-northwest to east- southeast for a distance of about 2500 km covering Afghanistan, Pakistan, India Nepal, Bhutan and China. In India, it stretches from Indus Trench below Mt.Nanga Parbat (8125 m) in the west to Yarlungtsanpo- Brahmputra gorge below Namche Barwa Peak (7756m) in the east.

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The Himalaya is divided geographically into: Eastern or Assam Himalaya (between river Brahmputra and River Tiesta). Central or Nepal Himalaya (between River Kali and Tiesta) The Kumaon or the Western Himalaya (between river Satluj and Kali) The Northwest or Punjab Himalaya (between river Satluj and Indus) The Himalaya lying within the Indian territory has a width ranging from 250 to 300 Kms and covers fully or partially the states of J & K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Sikkim, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya.

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Eastern Himalaya

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The Eastern Himalaya Ecosystem Includes both Assam Himalaya, the portion between the Himalaya lying in Sikkim and Namcha Barua peak in Arunachal Pradesh) and NE Hills viz., Naga, Patkai, Khasi, Jaintia, Garo, Lusai and Mikir Hills. The Eastern Himalaya has been classified as one of the 25 Hot spots of the world. It is also known as “Assam gateway”.

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Glacier melting Alpine malow in bloom Alpine zone with Rhododendrons Ridges with pristine forest tract and jhum field

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Western Himalaya

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Western Himalaya the smallest part of Himalaya (9.62% ), lying between the great defile of River Satluj and River of the Himalayan region, includes thirteen districts of Kumaon and Garhwal Himalaya of Uttaranchal State. The region has forests ranging from Tropical forest (500-1000m), Terai and Bhabar belt of sub-Himalayan tract sub divided into 1. Scrub forest2.Deciduous forest and 3.Savannah, Sub tropical; forest (1000-2000m), divided into Broad leaved forests, Pine Forests(1500-1800m) and sub tropical evergreen forests (1800-2000m) and Temperate Forests (2000-3000m) divided into broad-leaved and Conifer forests, Sub-alpine forests (3400-4000m) appears above timberline having scattered stunted bushes. Alpine Forests (4000-5000m) marks the upper limit of vegetation and exhibits enormous floristic and vegetation diversity. WETLANDS: The Himalayan mountain ranges are bestowed with a series of wetland habitats. The entire Himalayan region being the cradle of large number of streams and mighty rivers.

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Himalayan Tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus) Typical Himalayan Tahr habitat Himalayan Musk deer (Moschus chrysogaster) Typical Himalayan Musk deer habitat Western Tragopan (Tragopan melanocephalus)

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North - West Himalaya

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North-West Himalaya Covers HP and J & K State except Kargil ,Ladakh and Lahaul Spiti Valley, which constitute Trans Himalaya. The biota in upper reaches in J & K and Lahaul Spiti Valley is Palaearctic. The principal parallel ranges from south to north comprise of Shiwalik, the lesser Himalaya, the great Himalaya and the trans-Himalayan Zanskar, Ladakh and Karakoram, the Pir Panjal, Dauladhar and Nag Tibba. North of Pir Panjal in J & K Lies the Kashmir Valley. The area extends from the plains of Punjab, Haryana and adjoining mountains of Uttarnchal to Pakistan in the west, Tibet and Central Asia in the north. Natural Vegetation is classified into Tropical Forests, Sub Tropical Forests and Temperate forests.

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Forests and streams in lower Himalaya North-West Himalaya High Attitude Pastures Roper wetland  in lower Himalaya Renuka Lake

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Barheaded geese during winter in lesser Himalaya

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Deserts: Thar

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The Deserts Bounded by Aravalli Hills in the east, the fertile Indus and Nara valley in the west, the great salt marsh of the Kutchch in the south and Semi-arid districts of Haryana and Punjab in in the north. Thar desert, one of the smallest in the world , exhibits a wide variety of habitat and diversity. It is the only thickly populated desert with a population of over 80 persons per, and a heavy live stock population. Its uniqueness lies in having the crossover points for the Oriental, Palaearctic and Ethiopian elements of fauna and Flora. The Thar desert is believed to be an extension of Sahara desert, through Arabian and Persian Deserts. In India it extends through Punjab(Distt. Ferozepur, Faridkot and Bhatinda),Haryana (Distt. Sirsa, Hisar, Bhiwani and Mahendragarh), Rajasthan (Sri Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Churu,Jhunjhunu,Sikar,Nagaur,Ajmer,Bikaner, Jaiselmer, Jodhpur, Pali, Barmer and Jalore Distt.) to Gujarat (Distt. Banaskantha, Kutchch,Mahsana, Ahmedabad, Surendranagar, Rajkot, Jamnagar and Junagarh).

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Geographical limits of Indian Thar Desert Four types of Desert Landscapes

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The Indian Desert is subdivided into: 1.Thar (Sea of Sand) , 2. Pat Lower Sand Hills with N & S orientation, 3. Ghaggar(relics of gigantic river system in which river Sutlej enters) and 4. Steppe (uplands of Rajasthan, more or less rocky plateau along the north and western fringes. The sand dunes occupy about 58% area of the desert. The extremes of the cold and heat is a special feature of the desert climate. Vegetation is quite sparse and fall under the category of “Thorn Forest Type’. Much of the area is occupied by dry open grassland with trees and thorny bushes. The Indira Gandhi Canal considered to be lifeline of Thar, has changed the land use pattern and vegetation in the command area.

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Characteristic flora in Thar desert

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Great Indian Bustard–Ardeotis nigriceps Indian Cobra–Naja naja Black Buck–Antilope cervicapra Jackal–Canis lupus

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Wild Dog–Cuon alpinus Indian Gazelle–Gazella benetti

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Deserts: Rann of Kutchch Gujarat State showing Rann of Kutchch

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Rann of Kutchch Rann of Kutchch or Kutch-Bhuj in Gujarat state forms a separate agro-climatic zone within the Thar desert of India, characterised by low rainfall and sparse vegetation. It has a special topography because of its location near sea and low-lying areas by which the marine water enters into its vast expanse. Bordered with Sind (Pakistan) in north; in south with Surendranagar,Banaskantha and Mahsana in west by Arabian Sea, which also forms Gulf of Kutchch. ROK is divided into three zones: 1. Kutchch 2. Great Rann and 3. Little Rann. Kutchch forms the shape of a TORTOISE and hence it has its name derived as. The area harbors several endemic and threatened species of plants and animals. Important rivers of ROK are Luni, Rakhari, Bhukhi, Banas, Nachhu and Demi.

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An Oasis in the Desert Glaval land, a typical desert component in Kutchch Wild Ass–Equus hemionus Wasteland in Kutchch

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Forest Reserve in Dayapar Salt industry in Little Rann Prosopis juliflora threatening the habitat in Little Rann Receded sea water revealing exposed bed

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Coastal Regions The Indian mainland coast is divided into two parts West Coast fronted by the Arabian sea and The East Coast is fronted by the Bay of Bengal. Other than these mainland coasts there are three Island Groups the Lakshadweep in the south Arabian sea and Andaman and Nicobar in the eastern bay of Bengal. The physical regime of the Indian coasts is characterised by different types of Coastal and shore ecosystems like 1.PROMOTORIES (Near Beypore in Kerala), 2.SAND PITS (at Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh), 3.BARRIER BEACHES (Along Kerala Coast), 4. EMBAYMENTS (Mirya bay in Maharashtra), 5. ESTUARIES and 6.OFFSHORE ISLANDS. Besides there are Mud flats, Rocky Coastland, Sandy stretches which are characterised b y unique biotic and abiotic properties and processes.

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Rocky Coast, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu Exposed coral rubble in Gulf of Mannar Mangrove Ecosystem, Wandoor, Andaman Appa Island, Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve

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Western Ghats

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The Western Ghats Western Ghats or Sahyadri Hills stretch from River Tapti in the north to Kanya Kumari in the south, parallel to the west coast of peninsular India, through the state of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. One of the major Tropical Evergreen area. The second “Hot spot” for Biodiversity, the area is rich in endemics. All the major Peninsular rivers have their origin in WGs and thus WGs forms a major watershed in Peninsular India. Unlike extra peninsular rivers the Peninsular rivers depend exclusively on monsoons.Climate is chiefly monsoonic. Geologically , since the Peninsular India once formed a part of Gondwanaland , some of its fauna and flora show relationship with now disjunct continents and islands of South America, Africa, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and even Australia. WGs fall under Palaeotropical (Indo-Malayan) biogeographical zone, divided into the province of Malabar Coasts/plains and WGs mountains.

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Location of Western Ghats, Eastern Ghats and Deccan

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A view of Asthamudi Biodiversity areas in Western Ghats

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A high elevation grassland habitat in the Eravikulam National Park, Kerala Tropical wet evergreen forest in Western Ghats, India Shola-grassland ecosystem in high range, Kerala Nilgiri Tahr—Hemitragus hylocrius

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Deccan Peninsula

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Deccan Peninsula Comprising entire Indian Peninsula south of Narmada river, the Deccan in the western edge forms the WGs while the eastern is more broken and known as Eastern Ghats. The Satpura is most important of these and forms important biogeographical barrier. Deccan Peninsula is a conglomeration of different types of ecosystems ranging from dry deciduous, moist deciduous forests, degraded shrublands, dry evergreen forests, thorn shrubs and tiny areas of semi-evergreen forests, besides certain wetland ecosystems and freshwater bodies. Natural grasslands are rare and confined to few river valleys. Freshwater ecosystems are represented mostly by rivers Narmada, tapti, Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, kauveri and their tributaries , besides a few lakes. Some coastal tracts of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa have Mangrove vegetation. This large zone is relatively homogenous.

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Plateau parts  of Deccan Peninsula A shurb jungle in the outskirts of the Eastern Ghats in Orissa

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A torrential rivulet feeding Mahanadi river in Orissa Forest calotes, Calotes rouxi A weaver bird in Rangana Thittu bird sanctuary A flock of Painted storks in Mysore Plateau

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Roosting Fruit bats in a scrub jungle in Mysore Plateau Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala

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Eastern Ghats

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Eastern Ghats The Eastern Ghats (EGs) extend in NE and SW strike in the Indian Peninsula covering an area of 75,000 km2, with a average width of 200 km in the north and 100 km in the south.They extend over a length of 1750 km between river Mahanadi and Vaigai along east coast. The coastal area in the east limits its eastern part. EGs mainly spread through the states of Orissa Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The EGs do not form a complete range because of the great rivers Mahanadi, Godavari and Krishna cuts across them. Most of the terrain in Northern part lies about 400m with a few peaks exceeding 1100m. The highest point being Mahendragiri (1501m) in Ganjim. The EGs run in WSW direction meeting WG in Nilgiris. The region falls under tropical monsoon climate receiving rainfall from both SW monsoon and NE retreating monsoon. The area has 1.Evergreen forests,2. Tropical semi evergreen forests, 3.Tropical moist deciduous forests,4. Southern Tropical dry deciduous forests,5. Northern mixed dry deciduous forests,6. dry savannah forests,7. tropical dry evergreen forests and8. tropical dry evergreen Scrub.

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Location map of Eastern Ghats in India

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Semi-evergreen forest—Galkonda hills Northern Tropical moist deciduous forest (Sal forest), Moist deciduous forest—Mahendragiri hills

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Shifting cultivation – Araku Valley, Visakhaptnam district, Andhra Pradesh

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Island Ecosystem

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Islands The Islands are of two types Continental Islands, which are detached segments of continents and inhabited by terrestrial mammals and amphibians Oceanic Islands are originated in the ocean, comprising the volcanic rocks and corals, not inhabited by terrestrial mammals and amphibians These islands may be 1. Recent continental islands or 2.Fringing archipelago or3.Other Islands and Archipelago according to their origin The Indian Islands include 1.the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal consisting of a chain of more than 500 islands, islets and rocky outcrops running north to south and 2. Lakshadweep in the Arabian Sea: This archipelago is the smallest territory in India which is irregularly scattered in the South Arabiabian sea. The Lakshadweep, Maldive and Chagos archipelago form a continuous mountain ridge in the ocean. This ridge is believed to be continuation of Aravalli mountain ranges of Gujarat and Rajasthan of the Indian mainland since late tertiary times These islands are adorned with three ecosystems 1. Forests 2. Mangroves and Coral reefs. The terrestrial part harbors mainly forest and mangroves. The mangroves harbor a rich diversity of terrestrial fauna.

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Showing the location of Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar islands

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Lakshadweep archipelago

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Littoral forests in South Andaman Lakshadweep : a view from the coast

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Nicobar Crab-eating Macaque

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Megapode on mound Coconut Crab, Birgus latro

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Barren island, Andamans showing a dormant volcano

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Active volcano in Barren Island, Andamans

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Forest Ecosystem

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Forests Forests cover nearly 23.42 % ( 7,65,210 km2)of the total geographical area of India. Differentiated into four zones Forest Types in India Sixteen Forest Type are identified in India 1.Tropical- very hot and winterless 1. Tropical wet evergreen forests,2. Tropical Semi evergreen forests,3. Tropical moist deciduous forests,4. Tropical Littoral and swamp forests,5. Tropical dry deciduous forests, 6.Tropical thorn forests, 7. Tropical dry evergreen forests 2.Sub-tropical- hot and with cool winter 8. Subtropical broad leaved forests,9. Sub tropical pine forests, 10. Sub tropical dry evergreen forests, 3.Temperate- a warm summer with pronounced winter 11. Temperate montane wet forests , 12. Temperate Himalayan moist forests, 13. Temperate Himalayan dry forests 4. Alpine 14. Sub alpine forests,15.Moist alpine scrub and 16. Dry alpine scrub. 5.Arctic- with short summer and long pronounced winter

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India—Forest Types

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Moist deciduous forest Coastal vegetation Mangrove Forest Dry deciduous mixed forest

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Gaur- Bos frontalis in forest habitat

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Alpine forest

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Grasslands Ecosystem

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Grasslands A land with Plant community dominated by perennial grasses, with few or no shrubs and trees. 3.9% of the geographical area of India is grassland. The grassland diversity includes 1.Semi-arid and arid of Deccan Peninsula and Rajasthan 2.Water logged grassland of Terai belt 3. The rolling Shola-grasslands of hill tops of Western Ghats and 4.High altitude temperate-alpine grasslands of Himalaya. The grass lands in India, except in alpine regions are seral in nature and are maintained at various successional stages by grazing and burning. There is no climatic climax of grassland in India except the high Himalayan Meadows. These monsoon grasslands occurring in forest climate may be called tertiary communities. The grasslands primarily supports a large number of herbivore species from minute insects to the largest land animal- the elephant. This in turn makes the grassland a happy homeland for carnivores.

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Grassland near Kolhapur, Maharashtra Alpine grass meadows mixed with scrub Shrub-Savannah in Anamalai Hills Indian Elephants-Elephas maximus  in the grassland habitat

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Wetland Ecosystem Salt Water 1. Marine 2. Intertidal 3. Estuarine 1. Sun Tidal 2. Intertidal 4. Lagoons 5. Salt Lake Freshwater: 1. Riverine 2. Lacustrine 3. Palustrine 1. Emergent 2. Forested Manmade Wetlands

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Wetlands : Freshwater “Wetlands are the areas of marsh, fen, peat land or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water, the depth of which at low tides does not exceed six meters”. The FRESHWATER WETLANDS include both standing water habitats ,such as, small or large ponds, tanks, lakes and reservoirs, as well a running water habitats like rivers, streams, canals and drainage channels. Out of the 22 wetland types in India , as classified by IUCN,1989, following five are freshwater habitats. Tanks ,reservoirs and other water bodies of Deccan Peninsula Freshwater lakes and reservoirs from Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh represe4nting arid and semi-arid regions. Marshes,jheels,Terai swamps and chaur lands of Gangetic plains Flood plains of Brahmaputra and the Marshes and swamps in the hills of the northeast India. Lakes and reservoirs of the Himalayan montane regions mostly in J & K, Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh.

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Renuka Lake in Lesser Himalaya An upcoming wetland, in abandoned Bhatti Mine Area, in Arawali range, South Delhi A wetland of the Malabar plains at the foot-hills of Western Ghats Macrophytal flora of a freshwater wetland in W Bengal

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A shallow freshwater wetland of West Bengal infested with different macrophytic communities

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Wetlands: Brackish Water The brackish water is the admixture of salt and freshwater. It includes, 1. Sprawling Estuaries at the confluence of th river system with sea, 2. Large lagoons, 3. Brackish water lakes and back waters,4. Intertidal mud,sand or salt flats,5. Intertidal salt marshes, salt pans and saline as well as brackish water impoundments and the vast areas of mangrove swamps containing tidal waters of fluctuating salinity. Four Categories of Brackish water wetland habitats are defined as: Brackish water Lagoon: Large,Shallow,inland, natural brackish or salt water lakes connected or separated from sea by dunes. Brackish water lakes:Large, shallow, inland body of brackish water, usually natural, containing standing water, not connected by sea. Brackish water impoundments:Man-made brackish water ponds including fish ponds and shrimp ponds. Back waters:Currentles, usually coastal, water held back by dam etc., beside streams, rivers and estuaries, is known as back waters. Very little is known about the brackish water floral and faunal diversity other than commercially important species. Chilika Lake and Pulicat Lake are relatively rich in faunal diversity.

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Backwater   wetland in Kerala A wetland ecosystem in Cauvery Delta White throated Munia in Reedbeds of Nalsarovar Sambar Lake

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Macrophytes at the periphery of brackishwaterbheries in West Bengal Mud crab culture demonstration centre in brackishwater wetlands of West Bengal

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Wetlands : Estuaries The transitional ecotone which is the confluence of the river and the sea. Three main types of estuaries can be recognised namely, Positive, where the evaporation from the surface is less than the volume of fresh water entering the estuary from the rivers and land drainage. Negative , where the evaporation from surface exceeds the fresh water runoff entering the estuary Neutral, where the fresh water exactly equals the evaporation and in such situation a static salinity regime is established. Geopmorphologically , the estuaries can be classified into 1. Drowned valleys, 2.Kayals and 3. Deltas Estuaries are generally rich in nutrients needed for plant and animal growth, especially nitrogen and phosphates.

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A wetland in the lower reach of Krishna River in Andhra Pradesh Mangroves of Krishna Estuary during high tide Exposed mudflat near the mouth of Krishna Estuary Common fish catch from Krishna Estuary

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Mangrove Ecosystem

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Mangrove Ecosystem A characteristic littoral forest ecosystem dominated by specially adopted salt-tolerant plant community that grow at land-sea inter-phase and border sheltered sea-coasts and estuaries of tropical and sub tropical regions of the world. The mangrove forests comprise a diverse composition of trees and shrubs which exhibit unique adoptation to an environment which is periodically inundated by salt water from one side and fresh water from the other. Mangrove ecosystem is highly productive and exchanges matter and energy with adjacent terrestrial and marine ecosystem. This ecosystem constitutes an important reservoir and refuge of rich microbial, floral and faunal components and feeding and breeding grounds of a large number of commercially important and ecologically important animal species.

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Mangroves showing stilt roots Exposed knee roots of mangroves in Andaman Island Acanthus ilicifolius interspersed with Nypa fruticansin the creeks of South Andaman Mudflats–typical habitat for Fiddler crabs Uca spp.

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Estuarine river bank with mangrove vegetation exposed during the low tide, showing benthic fauna Mangroves in coastal region of Kutchch, Gujarat Mangroves in South Andaman Mangroves with pneumatophores

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Coral Reefs

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Coral reefs Coral Reefs the most dynamic ecosystem that provides shelter and nourishment to the thousands of marine fauna and flora. They are protectors of coastline of the maritime states. Coral reefs are tropical, shallow water ecosystems, largely restricted to the areas between the latitude 300 N and 300S. There are three types of Coral reefs Atoll Fringing and Barrier All three occur in India The mainland coast of India has two widely separated areas containing Reefs- The Gulf of Kutchch in the NW which ha some of the most northerly reef in the world and Palk Bay and, Gulf of Mannar in the SE. There are patches of reef growth on the west coast at Malwan. The Andaman and Nicobars have Fringing Reefs around many Islands, and a Long Barrier reef on 5the west coast. The Lakshadweep has extensive reefs but these are equally poorly known. The term Coral has been used to describe a variety of of different invertebrate animals from the phylum CNIDARIA

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A view of huge populations of Acropoa in Andaman and Nicobar Islands Montipora foliosa, a common foliose coral in Gulf of Mannar and other reefs of India Four major Coral Reef areas in India

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Pavona decussata, a common submassive coral in India except Gulf of Kutchch Diversity of coral species in the reef slope of Chidiatappu, Andaman The branching coral, Acropora aspera abundant in Lakshadweep and, Andaman and Nicobar Close view of the exposed massive corals during low tide

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Marine Ecosystem

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Marine Ecosystem Marine and coastal diversity encompasses variety of marine and coastal species and their genetic variety. India has a long coastline of about 8000 km, stretching along nine states and two archipelagos. The coast is indented by a number of rivers which form estuaries at their confluence with the sea. The Indian Ocean is the smallest of the three “great” Oceans and geologically much of which is rather youthful. The boundaries of the Indian Oceans are Western Limits: The Meridian of Cape Agulhas to Antarctica Eastern Limits: South of Australia, Bass Strait, Cape Grim, Tasmania to Antarctica; north of Australia-Torres Strait North: Asian Landmass, Marginal Seas of the Indian Ocean include, Red Se, Gulf of Aden, Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Malacca Straits and Singapore Straits. The two additional seas are Mozambique Channel and the Great Australian Bight. The area covered by the Indian Ocean is 74,917,000km2. The Indian Land mass forms a major physical division between the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal.

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Katchal Island, Nicobar Rocky Coast, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu Exposed coral rubble on an island of Gulf of Mannar Mangrove Ecosystem, Wandoor, Andaman

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Red gorgonid and a pair of associated crustaceans in Andamans Catamarans on the sea shore in Gulf of Mannar

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Thank You Dr. Vinod Khanna Zoological Survey of India Northern Regional Station, Dehra Dun-248 195

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