Over 400 plants & animals discovered last year

NEW DELHI: The new discoveries of plants and animals last year will give green crusaders and concerned citizens some reason to cheer amid reports of deforestation and diminishing wildlife.
Altogether 313 species of animals and 186 species of plants were discovered last year from different parts of the country, according to Animal Discoveries 2016, New Species and Records, brought out by the Zoological Survey of India on Monday, and Plant Discoveries 2016, by the Botanical Survey of India.
Most of the new species were from the four biological hotspots of the country — the Himalayas, the North East, the Western Ghats and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Of the new animal species, 258 are invertebrates and 55 vertebrates.
As many as 97 species of insects, 27 of fish, 12 of amphibians, 10 of Platyhelminthes, nine of Crustacea and six of reptiles have been discovered and described by the scientists.
There are 61 species of moths and butterflies (order Lepidoptera) and 38 of beetles (Coloeptera) on the list.
Animal Discoveries 2016 says for the first time, the number of animal species in the country, including protozoa, has crossed one lakh — 1,00,693 to be precise.
Till last year, India was home to 97,514 species of animals.
Plant Discoveries 2016 says along with 186 new species, scientists have discovered seven new genera, four subspecies and nine new varieties from India, taking the number to 206.
The publication lists 113 new records from India.
The geographical distribution of the new plant species reveals that 17 per cent of the discoveries were made in the Western Ghats, followed by the Eastern Himalayas (15 per cent), the Western Himalayas (13 per cent), the Eastern Ghats (12 per cent) and the west coast (8 per cent).
Among the interesting discoveries of the year are eight new species of wild balsams, five species of wild ginger and a species of wild amla (Indian gooseberry). Also, 39 varieties of mushrooms have been discovered.
These new species will have use in horticulture and have medicinal value too. India has one of the 17 mega-diversities and it has about 6.42 per cent of the global fauna.

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