Posts Tagged ashok kumar
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Dr. Ashok Kumar Panigrahi & Dr. Nirakar Jena,
Department of Zoology, F.M.Autonomous College, Balasore, Orissa, India.
Sustainable development is defined as the process of development that meets the need of the present generation without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their need.
The idea of sustainable development emerged from the Brundtland report of 1987 titled “Our Common Future”, through which it was recognized that the natural resources are exhaustible. Consequently there was a global change in approach towards the developmental processes. The shift in the developmental paradigm led to a paradigm shift in ecological science. Human beings which thus far were not included in the ecosystem functioning were seen as an important constituent and the process of impact assessment was initiated. There was broad consensus for living in harmony with the nature because the traditional societies living close to nature and natural resources were found to be better integrated than the industrialized societies. The role of biodiversity as a natural resource was realised. This was more so in ecological point of view. The paradigm shift in ecological studies emphasizing the role of biodiversity led to the concept of sustainable development. Thus, ecology and development became synonymous and together they led to formulation of strategies for natural resource management whereby ecology was linked up with social processes.
The Brundtland Report or the report of the world commission on Environment and Development emphasized the following three points, which according Kofi Annan, are pillars of sustainable development. They are-
i. Economic growth
ii. Social progress
iii. Protection of the Environment together with the natural resources.
The report was time appropriate in view of the global change which includes the following facts.
i. Climate change- arising out of material development and without impact assessment, climate change is directly responsible for enhanced global disasters like polar ice cap melting, magnitude of sea born disasters etc.
ii. Biological invasions- technologies directed at altering the basics of biodiversity and nullifying the species barriers through the transgenic which fail the desired results.
iii. Biodiversity loss- owing to lack of understanding the importance of biodiversity, from food through health and ecological consequences to biological inter-relationships are very often forgotten.
iv. Land use- owing to lack of proper vision and far sight there is nothing called land use plan consequent up on which the quantum of arable land is diminishing when the population and hunger is rising.
Consequent to the above facts the following impacts were recognized.-
i. Scarcity of water, fresh water and especially drinking water true to its definition.
ii. Land and soil- especially arable land at a time of increasing urbanization and decreasing agricultural land owing to population explosion; over exploited soil due to green revolution practices.
iii. Energy- depleting energy resources like fossil fuels of petroleum crude and coal and limited availability from alternative sources like solar and wind etc.
iv. Pollutions- due to non sustainable industrialization, green revolution and implementation of non sustainable developmental practices, all habitats of life like air, water, land and food today stand highly polluted.
v. Population explosion- unchecked and unplanned population growth is taking place which by itself exerting tremendous pressure on planets life support systems.
vi. Poverty- more than 70% of the population in the developing countries today are living below the poverty line; a great majority of them do not own a house and a source of regular income, no land of their own to grow food and feed themselves.
Poverty is rampant in the slums of the cities and towns and far away villages in the country sides in all developing countries. These are the pockets where the population is growing at faster rates. In addition to this, high human activities which do not conform to the basic ecological necessities have been found to be the causes of various types of avoidable environmental pollutions. Besides, uncontrolled and unregulated human activities in search of employments to earn their daily breads, through the society in disarray and disorder. As a consequence, the original master plans drawn for all cities and towns in most developing countries like India are either undergoing frequent changes or are n ever really implemented.
The various types of human activities may be identified as-
Land clearing, grazing, urbanization, agriculture, forestry, fishery, aquaculture, water diversion, fuel consumption, industrialization and recreation.
The intentions are, however, aimed at improving the quality of life such as-
Shelter generation, food and fiber production, water supply and irrigation, consumer goods production, knowledge and enjoyment.
But the actual and unintended results together with the environmental costs thus achieved are enormous and they may be summed up as under-
Deforestation and habitat destruction, soil degradation and desertification, acid prepitation, eutrophication, ozone depletion, loss of biodiversity and climate change.
Thus, the current trends of development without assessing the consequential environmental impacts may be labeled as ‘non sustainable’. Consequential to such types of development the stocks of vital important and limiting resources like fresh water, fuel, timber, fodder, biodiversity and healthy food are fast depleting in most developing countries like India. It is, therefore of paramount necessity that these basic amenities of life must be sustainably harvested without further delay through sustainable development using indigenous technology where ever available.
The ways of sustainable development, some examples
1. Water harvest and aquifer recharge.
There was a news flash in the ToI,. 6 March 2003 that India stood at the
bottom of the heap on water quality and availability. Taking excerpts from then just published world water development report of United Nations, the paper reported that India ranked a poor 120 in a list of 122 countries for its water quality and in terms of water availability India ranked 133 in a list of 180 countries where the survey was undertaken. As compared to India, its neighbours like Bangladesh, Srilanka, Nepal and Pakistan stood at 40, 64, 78 and 80 respectively in the same list. The top five water rich countries of world were identified to be Greenland, Alaska, French Guyana, Iceland and Guyana in that order. Similarly the top seven countries identified in terms of water quality were Finland, Canada, New Zealand, U.K., Japan, Norway and Russian Federation.
It is an established fact that global weather patterns and precipitation rates are highly influenced by ENSO ( EL Nino- La Nina Southern Oscillation) in the pacific besides other episodic events as forest fire and a few other independent factors such as microclimatic changes and mean temperatures etc. With references to India it is known that states like Tamilnadu received much less rainfall consequitively for last several years where as states like Kerala and Karnataka were identified to be the wettest regions
As regards to water precipitation, it is widely known that India receives much more rainfall than Europe. But compared to India, Europe never faces water scarcity. It may be because; the 80% of the total amount of rainfall that India receives annually comes in just about 100 hours. In such a situation, harvestation of rain water is of paramount importance in India. However, there are no organized governmental efforts to this aspect yet anywhere in India.
In Delhi, the capital city of India, the under ground water table has been in decline, going deeper and deeper with increase in population. In some regions of Delhi, the water table has crossed 200 feet. To meet the ever increasing water need of Delhi, dams like the one in Tehri has been constructed with a huge capital investment. But Tehri being in the seismic zone is unsafe. Therefore, the problem has to be solved locally. Few retired persons in different areas of Delhi went on a mission of water harvesting and aquifer recharge in the last couple of years and achieved encouraging results which as summed up in the survey report of th Centre for Science and Environment and published in the ToI sometime back employing simpler technology as shown below-
Execution Under ground water availability depth
Area Before After
1. Panchsheel park > 92 feet 87 feet
2. Jamia Hamdard University. >148 feet 132 feet
3. Rajinder Nagar 118 feet 73 feet
4. Vasant Vihar 119 feet 115 feet
5. Tughlaqabad defence colony drawing drawing 10,000 liters 20,000 liters
Similar methods can be successfully employed in all water stress areas in India including Chennai taking examples from countries like Germany where by law it is mandatory for every household to harvest rain water. In Germany, the government levies a tax on those who do not harvest rain water in order to raise funds to build and maintain structures to harvest the same, especially storm water.
Besides, rain water harvesting has achieved tremendous results in Rajasthan which led to Rajinder Singh being awarded with the prestigious Magasasay Awaards and revived native vegetation in Asola-Bhatti, a large patch of barren land near Delhi scarred with pits from which red sand had been dugout over a long period.
2. Sustainable agriculture and real green revolution:
Scars left by the imported technology used during the so called green revolution in India in the late sixties are difficult to fill up. By the impact of that green revolution, the soil now stands degraded with reference to plant nutrition availability
and water retaining capacity. The food today contains excess of hazardous chemicals like nitrate, pesticides residues and lacks important constituents like carotene and vitamin C and is deficient in food mineral contents like copper and zinc. Besides, by volatilization, nitrogenous fertilizers contribute to acid precipitation and ozone depletion. Free use and applications of pesticides increased the resistance in the
desired species like the crop pests, eliminated beneficial insects like honey bees, an array birds like the scavenging vultures and pest feeding insectivorous birds and ended up in appearing in bottled waters and soft drinks in dangerous proportions.
Pests are creations of the nature. Nature has its own methods to contain them. We have a huge biodiversity at our disposal to keep the pests in check, like the Azadirachtin of Neem and other such botanicals; the predators like the Spiders, Mantis, Dragon flies, the parasitoids like the Bracon and Trichogramma. In such a situation why apply the pesticides and put the human lives in danger? Pearson (1985) has opined that pesticides related deaths in developing countries account for about 10 thousand per year and many more suffer.
Earthworms have been known to be friends of farmers even to school children but there has been no comprehensive effort to employ these creatures to agricultural advantage in a large way except for some NGOS like the Navdanya Trust of New Delhi which are doing exemplary work in that line to change non sustainable chemical agriculture to sustainable organic agriculture.
Awareness creation through facts and figures:
Results obtained from the just concluded UGC funded Major Research Project on Organic farming conducted by the authors are glaring examples to show that only organic farming is sustainable. Growing HYV paddy (Lalat) in Rabi with Azolla culture and Pongam oilcake for providing plant nutrition and using pheromone traps and Trichocards to keep the pests in check, yielded 1.5 quintals of paddy per acre over and above the quantity produced using agrochemicals and that too with less cost.
As far as NPK parameters of the soil to provide nutrition to crop plants are concerned, the following data were obtained through organic applications which may seriously be viewed.
Soil fertility status in transplanted HYV kharif paddy
Sesbania + Pongam oil cake (@ 375kg/ha)
worm cast in lateritic soil
Worm cast in saline soil
Compost + Earthworm
1 month after worm inoculation
Compost + Earthworm with vegetable plants in fruiting state
Worm cast of a geophagous
Contribution of Earthworms to Soil fertility in form of Worm casts (in kg./ ha.)
General soil sample
Worm cast of Metaphire posthuma
(Giant tropical earth worms of Orissa)
Initial soil sample
Worm casts of mixed species of native worms
-do- Perionyx excavatus
-do- Eisenia foetida
Contributions of Biodiversity to soil fertility under 20 % soil incorporations (kg./ha)
Biodiversity N % P2O5 % K2O%
Casuarinas leaf ash trace 1.4% 14.0%
Pongam (dry leaves) 3.7% 2.41% 2.42%
Bone and blood meal 10-12% 3-3.5% 0.5-0.7%
Poultry litter (fresh) 3% 2-6% 14%
Cow urine (fresh) 0.083 ppm 9.73 ppm 387.5ppm
Neem oil seed cake 5.2 % 1% 1.4%
Til (sesamum) oil cake 6.25% 2.05% 1.25%
Sesbania (whole plant) 3% 1.2% 2.2%
Eucalyptus leaf ash trace 5.9% 24.0%
Major Nutrient Removal by different crops:
Unit – kg. per quintal of product
Crops Crop parts Nitrogen Phosphorus Potash
Paddy grain/straw 1.34/0.61 0.54/0.37 0.27/3.70
Groundnut Pod/calm 3.02/0.4 074/0.14 0.52/0.7
Potato Tuber 0.74 0.28 1.4
Gram Grain 5.25 1.65 4
3. Reclaiming waste arid land through biodiversity service:-
Land degradation is a threat being faced World Wide. There are several factors responsible but open cast mining is the chief is the principle cause. Presently about 2 billion hectares of land world wide lie degraded. Of this about 3.5 consists of dead ecosystems that can not be revived and restored back to normally. Sustained efforts and planned executions can reactivate the rest 96.5 percent of degraded land.
Asola Bhatti near Delhi was one such degraded land which bore the precious red sand that was exploited since the Moghul era and through the British period for constructions of monuments in and around Delhi. Centuries of exploitation left Asola Bhatti a dead ecosystem. There was not a single blade of grass growing any where in the vast expanse of Asola Bhatti until 1994. Delhi University scientists led by Professor CR Babu established the Centre of Management of Degraded Ecosystems and worked overtime using simple cost effective technology in an area of 1.5 hectares of Asola Bhatti. Encapsulated seeds of some local varieties of plants in microbial gel blocks were released in the dry and hot environment of Asola Bhatti. Microbe diversity used was direct and associated nitrogen fixers, phosphate solublisers (both bacterial and fungal) and plant growth promoters. The seeds used belonged to plant diversity such as Acacia (a leguminous plant) and various grass species in line with those found in the Aravalis in the first phase. Miraculously, these encapsulated seeds germinated with the scanty rainfall that the region received during the monsoon. Encouraged by this development, Delhi forest department constructed several check dams in the area for harvesting rain water. In the second phase, seeds of other plant diversities like the ‘dhak’ and ‘junglee jalebee’ were released. Over a period of six years, the topography of the degraded Asola Bhatti ecosystem changed dramatically with many native flora and flora reappearing of their own. Today there is a forest in the region of Asola Bhatti which once lay barren for centuries.
4. Saline Land Reclamation through Agnihotra
Dr. Ramashray Mishra, Professor of Plant Genetics at Chandrashekhar Azad Agriculture University in Kanpur has been experimenting with Agnihotra farming for the past 25 years, both under laboratory and field conditions. Among his many achievements the successful reclamation of saline waste land in Kanpur within 10 years through Agnihotra is a unique achievement. After reclamation of the said land, a residential colony that came up on a part of it was named Agnihotra Nagar. The rest of the reclaimed land is lush greenery and is covered by luxuriant vegetation. The topography of the area changed dramatically within a period of 10 years. Similarly the Homa Therapy Association of North America reclaimed a 17 acre patch waste land and turned it to its own farm in Alabama (USA) through Agnihotra in a short period of 2 years, whereas left to the mercy of nature, the said land would have taken about 100 years to rebuild its top soil. It is for this and other agriculturally advantageous reasons that many developed and developing countries like USA, Germany, Japan, Peru and Chile have officially accepted Agnihotra as the principal method of organic farming. The Latin America states like Peru and Chile have accepted Agnihotra as their State agricultural policies principally due to its cost effectiveness, superior crop yields and simultaneous conservation of top productivity soil and water resources.
5. Reclamation of Indian waste (usar) land
India has landmass of approximately 329 millions hectares; out of which more than half i.e., 175 millions hectares is categorized as waste land. These lands are on the steep slopes, saline affected, alkaline affected and subjected to excessive erosion, soil toxicity and lack of soil fertility. These soils are often referred to as ‘problem soil’. Saline and alkaline soils cover nearly 7 millions hectares land in our country. These soils are inhospitable for crop production due to high pH, high concentration of soluble salts and exchangeable sodium. These are called usar land or degraded land. The soils are deficient in nitrogen and phosphorous and do not support any plant growth. There are vast tracts of usar land in and around the ancient historical townships like Ayodhya, Mathura, Varanasi and Delhi etc.The banks of river Yamuna has only degraded land. In addition to the usar land, vast stretches of water logged land have added to the total degraded land in India and such land are in the increase in every passing year. Special planning strategies and systematic executions are essential in reclaiming such degraded land for agricultural purposes if we are to increase our food production.
The resources and the environment are getting depleted and degraded mainly due to human interference under the disguise of development. It is time appropriate to have a fresh look to the entire process of development globally without which life will not sustain for long in this planet. Approach to other resources like the wet lands, forests and above all, the biodiversity must be made globally and in a sustainable manner by which they become substantially productive and support the life system of the planet, Earth. This is of paramount importance now.
P.S. The authors invite innovative ideas on this issue from the readers of this article.
Tags: ashok kumar, developmental paradigm, dr ashok kumar, natural resource management, orissa india
BIODIVERSITY AND ITS CONSERVATION
By Dr. Ashok Kumar Panigrahi.
The word ‘biodiversity’ is a contraction of the term, ‘natural biological diversity’. Biodiversity refers to the range of variations or differentiations among same set of living entities. The term biodiversity is commonly used to describe the numbers, variety and variability of living organisms at the species level. Actually it is synonym of ‘Life on Earth’. It is estimated that there are about 50 million species of plants, animals and microorganisms with 35 thousand plants having medicinal properties, great bulk of it forming food of one another, species differing in physical & chemical characteristics. Plant diversity: is important to animals, herbivores and man, because, it meets the metabolic necessity of the trophic levels with the nutritional values of its fruits and seeds through dietary phytochemicals, primary and secondary.
Primary phyto chemicals such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats are necessary for energy production in the predators/ grazers/browsers
Secondary phyto chemicals have 2 pronged actions- either as deterrents or as stimulants.
Deterrents- toxic at high dose, prevent over predation/grazing/browsing, a sort of defense chemicals for their very survival;- may be either allomones or keiromones; some seeds may have 3 or more such chemicals in them acting as protease inhibitors as Lecithin, alkaloids, uncommon amino acids, glycosides and polyphenols.
Stimulants- are volatiles, as terpenoids, fatty acid derivatives-those induce pollination.
Microbial diversity is just a subset of biodiversity involving bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, micro algae, protozoans and other monerans.
A total of 16, 04,000 species of Monera, Protista, Fungi, Plantae and Animalia have been described globally (Whittfield, 2002) though it is likely to be 17,980,000 species i.e. about 11 times more than the presently known species. (Khoshoo, 1995).
India is rich in microbial biodiversity and there are about 850 (0.67%) Moneran species, 2577 (2.04%) Protistan species, 23,000 (18.23%) fungal species, 2500 (2%) species of algae in India, (Khoshoo, 1995). Watve et al (1999) observed a plausible estimate of several fold higher myxobacterial diversity in India than the species recorded worldwide so far. They reported 8 novel myxobacterial types out of 32 species described in Bergey’s Manual of Determinative Bacteriology
Microorganisms occur every where on the planet and more so in the tropics where humidity and temperature are better suited for them to grow and multiply.
Among these organisms, bacteria and fungi are of more importance to man because they are often employed to human advantage, such as Lactobacillus for curd making, yeast for fermenting and Bacillus thuringiensis for pest control and so on. Nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria help regulate nitrogen cycle, who convert aerial nitrogen to ammonia and nitrate and also back convert them to Nitrogen, thus preventing their harmful concentrations through accumulations.
In nature, the microbial populations are never allowed to gain in number naturally, as there are protozoa who feed on them and keep their number under check.
Aesthetic and ethical- man has grown with diversity and love it immensely. People go to the forests or the country sides to watch the nature which give them pleasure.
Through such a nature watch, Hugo de Vries, the father of genetics had discovered mutation in a population of Evening prime rose, Oenothera lamackiana.
In Mexico, there occurred several species of wild perennial corn. Subsequent hybridization produced the perennial cultivated corn. Peru possesses the widest potato diversity even today, the result of Darwin’s Artificial selection
Man needs the diversity, especially plant diversity for various reasons such as deriving medicine from them, as for example, quinine and aspirin. He needs the animal diversity as well, deriving Angiostenin from American pit viper, and Oysters in Chesapeake Bay filter the water
Loss of plant biodiversity will reduce rain fall (1/4rth.), increase global temperature (2-40C) and air pollution alarmingly.
Heritable variation within and between populations of organisms, ultimately depends on the sequence of four base pairs, as component of nucleic acids, constitute the genetic code.
New genetic variation arises by gene and chromosome mutations or by recombinations. Other variations are related to – the amount of DNA per cell, chromosome structure, number and set. Genetic variations influence both natural evolutionary changes and artificial selective breeding.
Patterns in Diversity
Usually 2 following patterns are observed -
(A) Alpha Diversity: It is the number of species in a given area and the patterns of their geographical distribution. It is relatively well documented for a wide variety of organisms and has led tro such generalization as – ‘diversity increases as latitude decreases’.
The species is the smallest and basic unit of life.
Individual name is the stamp of identity and symbol of communication to which most information is attached. Biodiversity is generally viewed as synonym of diversity of species and even the varieties within the species. Species has a direct effect on the community structure. Red data list and species information provide diversity status
Sustainable utilization of species is demarcation of hot & cold spots.
Defining the species
Taxonomic: Smallest group or population that are distinct and distinguishable from one another.
Biological: Group of inter breeding population composed of reproductively isolated populations having local and geographical bases.
Biosystematics: Based on fertility relationship determined by artificial hybridization; this includes ecotypes, eco species, cenospecies etc.
Biosystematics: Based on fertility relationship determined by artificial hybridization; this includes ecotypes, eco species, cenospecies etc.
Evolutionary: Lineage, ancestor to descendent sequence of population existing in space and time.
Species (Systematic) Diversity
Species diversity deals with the variety of living species in different geographical areas, often expressed in terms of species richness or species abundance. Species level is generally considered as the most natural one. Number of species only provides a partial indication of biological diversity. The ecological importance of a species can have a direct effect on community structure and thus overall biodiversity. Species in a true sense represents the unit of living beings.
Numbers of described species of living organisms.
Kingdom and major subdivision
Cellular slime mold
Plasmodial slime mold
Mosses, liverworts, hornworts
(ii) Cnidaria, Ctenophora
(2) Other arthropods
(ix) Minor invertebrate phyla
Jelly fish, Corals, Comb jellies
Nematodes (Round worms)
Annelids ( Earthworms and relatives
Echinoderms (star fish and relatives
lampreys and Hagfishes
Sharks and other cartilaginous fishes
TOTAL: All organisms
Importance of Biodiversity
Direct economic benefits
Tropical rain forest products like Oils, Gums, Rubber, Fiber, Tannin, Dyes, Resins, Turpentine, wide varieties of roots, fruits and ornamental plants.
Indirect ecological benefits
a. Evolutionary change, b. Crop improvement and c. Transgenic Organisms
Geographic varieties have provided the materials for agricultural manipulations of more productive and disease resistant strains
Medicinal Values and Food Security
Biodiversity has value in and of itself and it is inherently wrong to destroy it. [Kormondy, 1996]
Causes of Biodiversity Loss
1. Introduction of unwanted exotic species; for example- Stephen island Wrens were eliminated by the Light House keeper’s cat
2. Habitat destruction; Man – Animal conflict especially in India and loss of tigers and elephants to poachers in almost all National parks in India;
Economical gains- The state of Rondonia in western Amazonia lost 20% of rain forest, the richest source of biodiversity, in 5 years to foreign interests, like soy cultivation and cattle ranching; Surinam and Guyana are on the brink of losing much of their forests for the same reasons.
3. Introduction of GE/GM crops in agriculture; the male sterility factors in these crops render natives go sterile through pollination; Bt. Cotton has caused loss of all native cotton varieties in the cotton belt.
4. Excess human interference owing to population explosion.
The problem of biodiversity is essentially one of conflict resolution between the human kind on one side and living organisms inhabiting different habitats on other side. The UNCED (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development) process has helped place the loss of biodiversity and it’s conservation on global agenda. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) that emerged from the UNCED or Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 is now a treaty. According to the World Conservation Monitoring Center, 1,604,000 species have been described at the global level. India accounts for 8% of global biodiversity existing in only 2.4% land area of the world (Khoshoo 1996; Varley and Scot 1999). Biodiversity conservation requires certain specialized techniques for applications in reclaiming degraded habitats and employing both ex situ and in situ techniques.
Survey and Maintenance of Biodiversity
Two techniques are followed; 1. Satellite Remote Sensing (S RS) and
2. Geographic Information System (GIS)
According to Burley, the following 4 steps are to be followed:
1. Identification and classification of biodiversity, 2. Location of areas managed primarily for biodiversity, 3. Identification of biodiversity that is un or under represented in those managed areas and 4. Setting principles for conservation actions
5 Steps to be followed for effective conservation
1. The area is to be identified, 2. Population viability analysis is to be made 3. Habitat quality analysis is to be made 4. Introduction of identified/ selected (in situ/ ex situ) species if they are not there and 5. Area maintenance through boundary demarcation with necessary protection is to be made.
Conservation Strategies Followed
(A) In-situ conservation: (B) Ex-situ conservation: (C) Reduction of Anthropogenic pressure: (D) Restoration or rehabilitation of threatened species:
Noss & Cooperider have identified 2 filters for conservation-
1. Coarse filter strategies – deal with conservation of common species and misses species with restricted distribution and 2. Fine filter strategies - deal with the rare natural communities.
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is a fine filter approach that protects one species at a time, is a powerful tool that can rescue a species from the brink of extinction.
Biodiversity Management Network
Ecosystems and species are represented in areas managed for biodiversity. The species persists because populations else where escape catastrophic events. Hence, it is necessary that in a given geographic range, the species must have multiple representations.
Pressy et al postulate 3 principles –
1. Complementarity – refers to adding species to a given set of areas which are maximally different;
2. Flexibility – refers to the alternative areas to which a particular species can be added
3. Irrepressibility – refers to those elements of biodiversity which will occur only in a certain area and not every where.
Vision or Mission for New Millennium
Conservation of the integrity and diversity of nature, Inheritance of knowledge and biodiversity for future generations, Hot spot areas calling for urgent attention, Biodiversity loss, Fresh water shortage, Climate Change, Sustainability of agriculture
Biotechnology in food productions, Demographics and Consumption , Diminishing resources, Marine and coastal environment
Wild Land Biodiversity
Wild lands are removable, conservable or conserved but in a sense un productive land, like cash in a shoe box, neither earning interest nor circulating, although some concerned people across the nations argue that tropical wild lands are highly productive and are being systematically plundered for mining, agriculture and human settlements.
Environmental necessities demand that these wild lands must be preserved at any cost in order to prolong life in this planet at this juncture because they act as the carbon sinks. Hence, it must escape the tragedy of the commons.
‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ of Wild Land Biodiversity:
1. The more we know about it the more we can use it without damaging.
3. The use of wild land biodiversity must be scheduled and well monitored
4. The use of wild land biodiversity should not be for free and all users must pay for it in some currency.
Use of tropical wild land biodiversity
1. Identification, taxonomy and data base – is necessary to know and record ‘data’ – a. Knowledge of part(s) in use, b. exchange knowledge of use and experience, and c. transfer of knowledge to data center.
2. Micro geography of habitat – knowledge on the location of the species.
3. Collector’s knowledge of sustainable use – directly from those who frequent the wild and from those who keep track of these hunter-gatherers – about location, existence and appropriate collection method(s) of the part(s) of the species.
4. Basic Natural History of the species – to study the life cycle to find out the troubled stages of the species, that will help its conservation.
All information so gathered must be fed to the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) and UNESCO’s DIVERSITAS to attract global attention and possible help towards conservation of the species in view.
Managing wild land biodiversity
Presently the tropical wild land biodiversity is highly threatened due to several factors such as growing un employment. Much of Amazonia has been lost in recent years for illegal timber, cattle ranch and soy cultivation Owing to climate change and habitat loss 15-20% of endangered species are gone and the rest will follow soon if corrective measures are not taken soon. Such large scale destructions did take place during Cretaceous but then the land was returned back to the biodiversity which can not happen now.
Terrestrial conserved wild lands are habitat islands joined by a few aerially mobile organisms. With increasing intensities of impacts of on-site users, the species may soon be forgotten out side the conserved wild land.
A conserved wild land should not go bankrupt till production starts up again though a conserved wild land can not provide all the necessities of the community until a certain time.
A conserved wild land should not be like a monoculture agroscape of just one species , rather biodiverse in nature.
Role of biodiversity in courtships and breeding; a sample case study, The Bower birds and their Bower building -
The Bower building birds of Australo-Papuan region belong to the family, Ptylorhynchidae, comprising of 6 genera divisible in to 2 groups – 1. The cat birds, monogamous, do not build bower exhibit no courtship. 2. Other 5 genera are all polygynous, males building either typical bowers or nuptial courts with materials derived from biodiversity and displaying courtship to attract females for mating. Of them, 2 genera, Amblyornis and Prionodura known as Mc Gregor’s bower birds are Maypole builders, build maypoles of single or double spires decorating the saplings with sticks and moss in to a cone shaped dome with a base diameter of 25cm. The floor has a moss mat also. The decorative used are from the biodiversity often numbering around 2 thousand. The Avenue building Satin bower birds of Australia, build bowers composed of 2 walls of sticks aligned North–>South having a central avenue. The decorated display court is at the north end. During courtship the male holds a decoration in its beak and release diverse vocalizations. The 2 others, Tooth billed and Archibald bower birds build nuptial courts using large biodiverse objects as decorations placed around several trees.
Nature is the embodiment of biodiversity. Evolutionary processes over the millennia have produced diversity in abundance in all life forms. Thus, microbial biodiversity is quite but natural. Advancements in the field of biotechnology in recent years have empowered scientists to manipulate biodiversity to human advantage and more so in the field of the microbes, though however, it also threatens the very existence of natural biodiversity. Modern genetical tools like recombinant DNA technology, protoplast fusion and hybridoma have exploited the microbes the most, especially since industries started funding such research projects the world over. It began with Anand Mohan Chakravorty developing an altered microbe who could ingest oil spills in the sea and neutralize the same. But the alarming fact is that such inventions are not always for the benefit of the mankind and end up in benefiting the funding – industries at the cost of mankind and the natural biodiversity. For example – Bt. Cotton that failed and the loss of wide natural cotton diversity owing to its introduction. Such transgenic crops invariably carry with them a terminator gene, a male sterility factor that neutralize the diversity.
The factors which govern microbial diversity include – 1. their genetic constitutions with their ability to perform; 2. their micro and macro environment and 3. their ecological interactions with other organisms, both micro and macro.
Micro organisms occur every where in the planet and more diversely in the tropics where temperature and humidity are favourable for them. Their smallness enables them to escape detection unless there is a bloom.
A wide diversity of bacteria are beneficial to man; for example – Lactobacillus in curd making; yeast in fermenting and Bacillus thuringiensis in agricultural pest control etc. There is one, the magneto tactic bacteria which possess intra cellular magnetic particles that allow them to orient to the Earth’s magnetic poles. Many bacteria can be cultured in artificial media yet many others can not be, hence, neither fully known nor studied. Till date about 3 – 4 thousand of them have been studied and about 3 lakh not studied.
Virus do not survive free in nature and barring a few no virus was known to be beneficial to man until biotechnologists found them ideal vectors in synthetic gene transfers from test tubes to the cells of organisms. In the process if any virulent portion of viral gene remains active, there is great danger ahead. Of the 5 thousand or so viruses available only about 5 hundred have been studied.
Under very favourable conditions bacteria attain population blooms. In such conditions methanogenic bacteria produce methane in abundance; carbogenic fungi and bacteria produce CO2 in excess. Both of these are GhGs. Blue-green bacteria produce dimethyl sulphide, a substance that promotes cloud formation and precipitation. In marine environment, cyanobacteria also produce dimethyl sulphide in large quantities. The DMS being volatile is readily oxidized in the atmosphere to-methyl sulphoxide and then to methyl sulphate that acts as the nucleating agent in water droplet formation and cause rain.
The nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria produce nitrates and nitrous oxide respectively. Some nitrate is used up by the green plants but excess of it is leached in to the under ground water tables resulting in nitrate toxicity in those who drink that water. Nitrous oxide destroys the ozone layer increasing U-V penetration and causing skin cancer in human beings.
The soil is enriched by a set of soil bacteria/fungi such as Rhizobium, Azospirillum, Azotobacter, PSB/PSM and Nitrosobacter who build up the soil and provide nutrition to the plants. A well drained soil rich in leaf litter and low in rainfall receipt (like grass land) is the best for these aerobic organisms. If by chance, anaerobic bacteria gain in number in soil, the soil becomes degraded. The gum and cement producing bacterial products often block the soil pores. Such soils, if devoid of earthworms, become degraded soon.
In aquatic environs, bacteria also play a significant role. The toxic substance found in the fatty tissues and reproductive organs of Puffer fish, ‘tetradotoxin’, is the product of a microorganism and not the fish. Tetradotoxin is a powerful analgesic and is used in ‘pain relief’. Similarly, the anti leukemic compound found in the Tunicates (sea squirts) and even the anti microbial compound in the Caribbean coral reef sponges are also the products of microorganisms that are symbiotic to these hosts.
DNA cutting and splicing is carried out by an enzyme which remain active even at very high temperatures. This enzyme is obtained from a micro organism, Thermus aquaticus, isolated from hot water springs.
The natural process of decomposition is carried out by decomposers, who are, microbes, bacteria and fungi, who inhabit in all habitats.
Loss of the diversity of these microorganisms is caused by – Deforestation, ElNino-LaNina Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Genetic contamination through creation of gene altered or transgenic microbes.
Life flourishes in the tropics, whether microbes or plants or animals. Most of Earth’s living form is represented by insects in general and beetles in particular. Although 1.4 million species of insects, 80% of all living forms are on record, tropical forests may contain as much as 30 – 50 million species of insects, some 97% of global biodiversity, living every where, from deep in the soil to the top of the trees, underground aquifers to within the feathers of the penguins in Antarctica, deep in the caves to our eye brows. Among the insects, beetles are the most speciose, the most pervasive, the most wide spread and dominant in all ecosystems and all habitats. They tunnel, mine and chew every substrate. Tropical biodiversity has not been fully studied, hence, it is essential to collect data, maintain inventory of all forms of tropical insects especially, beetles with samples. The samples so collected must be cold stored, identified and named using Alphanumeric Assessment System (QTES) and feeding the same to data base and taxasphere for formal identification. The same may be followed for other flora and fauna found in the tropical ecosystems.
Mortality (death rate): is the rate at which death occurs in a population; Dispersal: is the rate at which individuals are immigrated or emigrated; Growth rate/form: is the sum total of natality, mortality and dispersal. Sex ratio & age structure: In most vertebrae populations, the sex ratio is primarily 50 male:50 female which, however, may vary between the populations. Age ratio: it determines the growth/decline in a population. For example: Rhesus monkeys of age group 1-3 years living on the road sides were trapped and exported in the 50s/60s for biomedical and pharmaceutical researches leading to their population decline when those in temple precincts were not. Life table: It is the tabular data on age structures based on a. Census data b. Mortality data from which ‘S’ shaped
survivorship curve is charted out by end users/insurance companies. Broadly, however, survivorship curves are of 3 types; a. convex type, where the population mortality rate is low until near the end of the life span as found in many species of large animals including man, b. concave type, where the population mortality is high during the young stages as in the profuse breeder species of both plants and animals and c. straight line type where the diagonal straight line curve indicates an age specific constant survival, a constant rate of mortality occurring at every stage as seen in hydra, gull and American robin etc.
Carrying capacity and Environmental resistance:
Every habitat and ecosystem has a specific space that can accommodate a certain number of individuals because of the limitations of space and food; and this is called the carrying capacity of the ecosystem. The ecosystem environment resists an increase in the density of populations as the fight for food, space and mate increase. The situation is further complicated by such factors as parasitism, prey-predator relationships and other such natural factors. The environmental resistance acts against the biotic potential of the organisms living in that ecosystem. An increase in the amount of struggles within the species and/or between the species leads to decline of their numbers, sometimes to near extinction. The decline and extinction of the Dinosaurs is a glaring example.
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