New Gin Berry Species Discovered

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A new species of gin berry has been discovered recently by a team of scientists from the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) from the Kanyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. This berry bears small, juicy fruit and is an obscure member of the citrus family. Glycosmis albicarpa is the name of the newly discovered species and it has a distinct large white fruit that is endemic to the southern Western Ghats.

Glycosmis albicarpa is an evergreen small tree belonging to the orange family, Rutaceae and was found as undergrowth in Tirunelveli semi-evergreen forests at the Panagudi forest section of the wildlife sanctuary covering an area of approximately two square kilometers as a single population.

Endemic Plant Species Conservation

About

  • The newly discovered species has a unique ‘gin-like aroma.’
  • Like other species of Glycosmis, this plant also acts as a larval host for the butterflies.
  • Another significant aspect of this species is that several plants of these taxonomic groups are being utilized for their medicinal values and food purposes.
  • This species is facing the danger of habitat loss.

The Western Ghats

  • It is an internationally recognized region of immense global significance for the conservation of biological diversity.
  • They are present along the western edge of peninsular India covering most of the deciduous and rain forests.
  • The Western Ghats are older than the Himalayas.
  • It covers areas of high geological, cultural, and aesthetic values.
  • It is also one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites besides one of the eight biodiversity hotspots in the world.
  • The Western Ghats are also home to more than 30 % of all plant, bird, fish, herpeto-fauna, and mammal species that are found in India.
  • Out of the total 325 globally threatened species in the Western Ghats:
    • 129 have been classified as Vulnerable
    • 145 as Endangered
    • 51 as Critically endangered

Biodiversity Hotspots

  • Biodiversity means the variation of plant and animal species in a particular habitat.
  • These are such places on Earth that are both biologically rich and deeply threatened.
  • As many as thirty-six areas around the world qualify as hotspots with intact habitats representing just 2.5 % of Earth՚s land surface.
  • They also support more than half of the world՚s plant species as endemics, nearly 43 % of mammal, bird, reptile, and amphibian species as endemics.

Criteria to Qualify as a Biodiversity Hotspots

  • The Area Should Have at Least 1,500 Vascular Plants as Endemics.
  • Must Have 30 % or Less of Its Original Natural Vegetation.

Four Major Biodiversity Hotspots in India

  • The Himalayas
  • Indo-Burma Region
  • The Western Ghats
  • Sundaland

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