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National

214 species face the threat of extinction in Kerala

A regional level assessment conducted by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has found that 214 species are facing the threat of extinction in the southern state of Kerala. About 45 experts from more than 18 research organisations and NGOs participated in the programme, which ran from 2019 to 2021. The report found that 20 species of birds, 54 species of reptiles, 35 species of freshwater fish, 49 species of butterflies, 38 species of odonates, 15 species of freshwater crabs and three species of non-marine molluscs face various levels of threat. Out of these, experts recommended a total of 37 species to the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) for notification under Section 38 of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, to ensure their conservation. Some of the species facing extinction include the Nilgiri Tahr, Purple Frog, Star Tortoise and Miss Kerala (Sahayadria desnisonii).

Read more: Study finds 214 species facing extinction threat in Kerala | The Hindu

Endangered Star Tortoise spotted in Western Ghats
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"The report found that 20 species of birds, 54 species of reptiles, 35 species of freshwater fish, 49 species of butterflies, 38 species of odonates, 15 species of freshwater crabs and three species of non-marine molluscs face various levels of threat." Photograph of a Star Tortoise by David V Raju via Wikimedia Commons under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license

Mekedatu Project is a ‘myopic decision’ that ‘will create a disaster’

Deccan Herald's Bangalore 2040 Summit brought together some of India’s most influential policymakers, entrepreneurs and activists. "The Mekedatu [project] will create a disaster," said T V Ramachandra, a professor at the Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES) at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), referring to the proposed Mekedatu project within the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary to fulfil Bangalore’s burgeoning water demands. While talking at a panel discussion about protecting and restoring the biodiversity of Bangalore, he called the decision to replace 5000 hectares of forest that has a catchment capacity of 100 TMC with a dam that has a storage capacity of 65-67 TMC as myopic. The other panellists opined that large projects like Mekedatu need to be approached with a participatory lens.

Read more: Mekedatu project will create a disaster, says ecologist | Deccan Herald

River Cauvery flowing through Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary site of proposed Mekedatu Project
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The proposed Mekedatu project within the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary is set to wipe out 5000 hectares of forest that has a catchment capacity of 100 TMC. Photograph of River Cauvery flowing through the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary by Chinmayisk via Wikimedia Commons under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license

Three new dwarf gecko species discovered from Karnataka

A new research paper published in Senckenberg, a biodiversity journal from Germany, has described three new dwarf gecko species in the Western Ghats in Karnataka. Namely Cnemaspis tigris, Cnemaspis sakleshpurensis and Cnemaspis vijayae. The discovery of these dwarf gecko species was made by researchers Akshay Khandekar, Tejas Thackeray and Ishan Agarwal, in association with the Thackeray Wildlife Foundation, Mumbai, and National Centre for Biological Sciences and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bangalore.

Read more: 3 New Dwarf Gecko Species Discovered | Kolhapur News | Times of India

Dwarf gecko Cnemaspis discovered in western ghats in karnataka
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The three dwarf gecko species namely, Cnemaspis tigris, Cnemaspis sakleshpurensis and Cnemaspis vijayae were discovered from the Western Ghats in Karnataka. Photograph courtesy of Akshay Khandekar

International

Plants humans don’t need will be extinct soon, warns new study

Researchers at the Smithsonian Institution set out to find how plant species have been affected by humans since the start of the Anthropocene era. They analysed data on 86,592 vascular plant species, less than 30 per cent of all known plant species, and found that many more species are pushed to extinction by human activity rather than aided. About 20,290 species are categorised as losers because they are not useful to humans and are already recognised as endangered species. 

“We’re actually beginning to quantify what’s going to make it through the bottleneck of the Anthropocene, in terms of numbers,” said John Kress, the lead author of the paper. “It’s not the future, it’s happening. The bottleneck is starting to happen right now. And I think that’s part of the wake-up call that we are trying to give here.”

Read more: Plants humans don’t need are heading for extinction, study finds | Biodiversity | The Guardian

ginkgo biloba tree living fossil
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The Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) tree is a living fossil native to China, with earliest records dating back to over 290 million years. It is considered to be mostly extinct in the wild, but has been cultivated and planted abundantly as an avenue tree across the globe. Photograph courtesy of Pixabay

Warming temperatures are changing European birds as we know them

Although previous research has shown how passerines have grown smaller over time owing to rising temperatures, it was not known whether this was due to direct heat stress or rising temperatures, making it harder to forage. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal last week found that more than half the trait changes were due to rising temperatures. On average, up to 57 per cent of overall change over the past decades can be linked to temperature warming. Other factors such as urbanisation, pollution, habitat loss etc. also have had a pronounced effect.

Read more: Climate change fundamentally affecting European birds, study shows | Birds | The Guardian

Climate change affecting birds european crested tit
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Rising temperatures have cause birds like the European Crested Tit to change their egg-laying schedules and size. Photograph by kuhnmi via Wikimedia Commons under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license