Nature's Narrative Vol. 4(III)
Indian Animal Kingdom Update
Lesser Florican population rises in Rajasthan and declines in Madhya Pradesh
Often seen on the open grasslands of Madhya Pradesh, the lesser floricans are undergoing a rapid decline in their once breeding place. Cultivation of soybean instead of traditional crops is contributing to their falling numbers. Only 11 individuals of lesser florican were found last year in the area. An opposite scenario is found in Rajasthan which has become a stronghold of the floricans. The breeding habit of the floricans is closely related to rainfall and cropping patterns.
Agricultural plots close to Ajmer and grasslands around Velavadar are nowadays frequently visited by the floricans. Artificial hatching of the chicks of the species by the forest department of Ajmer got succeeded and the department is now planning to establish a conservation reserve for the lesser floricans. A conservation breeding center by the forest department of Madhya Pradesh is also on the way to protect the bird species from decline.
The onset of winter sees a surge of migratory birds in Odisha
As the winter wind has started to blow, thousands of migratory birds are landing in Bhitarkanika National Park at Odisha. Escaping the extremely cold weather in their abode in the northern hemisphere, the seasonal guests are gathering in large numbers in the wetlands of the national park, especially in Bhitarkanika and Chilka wetlands. The abundance of food and non-intervention of humans made the wetlands preferable to the migratory birds to stay in.
According to the Divisional Forest Office, about 1500 birds already made their way to the wetlands of Odisha. Some threatened species are prominent this year among the winter guests, such as- White-backed Vultures, Grey Pelicans, Greater Spotted Eagles, and Lesser Adjutant, etc. A greater number of migratory birds is expected as the winter progresses.
Indian Biodiversity Update
Peninsular India: home to the new species of vine snakes
Researchers of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have discovered 4 new species of vine snakes-one of the most widely found snakes in Peninsular India. The research found that the commonly seen Indian green vine snake encompasses several different species. The newly found species were discovered in the rainforests of Western Ghat, uniquely characterized by their small bodies and short noses. They have a slight morphological similarity and can be separable by their ecological barriers. This discovery may elucidate the evolution of vine snakes in South Asia.
The study, published in the journal Zootaxa, was carried out in collaboration with researchers S R Ganesh from the Chennai Snake Park, Saunak Pal from the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), and Princia D'souza from IISc. The discovery came about after researchers from the Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES) at Indian Institute of Science (IISc) began to collect morphological data, tissue samples and specimens to understand the patterns of distribution and diversification of vine snakes.
Bamboo forests of Meghalaya hold new species of glowing mushrooms
A group of scientists from India and China has discovered a new species of light-emitting mushrooms in a bamboo forest of Meghalaya. Growing on dead bamboo the mushrooms emit a green glow at night and got familiarized to the locals as “electric mushrooms”. A thorough laboratory test confirmed the mushroom as the first fungus of the Roridomyces genus to be found in India.
This mushroom was only found growing on dead bamboo (Phyllostachys mannii). Special elements could be present in the bamboo substrate that this fungus prefers. More research is needed to understand why they grow on this bamboo species. So far, this mushroom is known from Krang Shuri, West Jayantia Hills District and Mawlynnong, East Khasi Hills District in Meghalaya.
Shail Palan & Sumaiya Siddique
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