In News: New species of Miliusa spotted in Agasthyamala
- Researchers have identified a new species of evergreen tree belonging to the genus Miliusa from the Agasthyamala biosphere reserve in the southern arm of the Western Ghats in the Thiruvananthapuram district.
- What makes the discovery special is that only two mature trees have been spotted so far in its natural habitat
- The tree, which grows to a height of about six to nine metres with drooping branches, has been named Miliusa agasthyamalana after the location where it was found.
- The identification of the new species has also taken the total number of species of Miliusa found in India to 25.
- Spotted during a floristic survey in the Athirumala range of the Agasthyamala biosphere, the new species is morphologically similar to Miliusa paithalmalayana and Miliusa wightiana.
- The researchers came across the new Miliusa species at elevations ranging between 1000-1250 metres.
- Miliusa agasthyamalana has brown bark, and solitary flowers which are yellowish-pink in colour.
- Flowering and fruiting occur during April-July.
- Given the small number of mature individuals that have been found, researchers have recommended that the species be categorised as critically endangered (CR).
Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve (ABR)
- ABR in situated at the southern-most end of the Western Ghats and spread over two southern states Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
- It was established in 2001.
- It is named after Agastya Mala peak that rises up to almost 1868 metres above sea level, in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
- In March 2016, it was included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves of UNESCO.
- ABR covers an area of 3,500 sq km at an altitude ranging from 100 metres to 1,868 metres above the Mean Sea Level.
- It covers Peppara and Shendurney wildlife sanctuaries and parts of the Neyyar sanctuary in Kerala and the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve of Tamil Nadu.
- Its flora mostly consists of tropical forests and is home to 2,254 species of higher plants including about 400 that are endemic.
- About 400 Red Listed Plants, 125 species of orchids and rare, endemic and threatened plants have been recorded from the reserve.
- A number of tribal settlements comprising a total population of 3,000 inhabit the biosphere reserve. They rely largely on biological resources for their sustenance, although recent projects have been set up to reduce their dependence on the forests.
Source: The Hindu
Previous Year Question
Q.1) Which one of the following are Agasthyamala biosphere reserve? (2019)
- Neyyar, peppara and shendurney wildlife sanctuaries and kalakad mundanthurai tiger reserve
- Mudumalai sathayamangalam and Wayanad wildlife sanctuaries and silent valley national park
- Kaundinya gundla bhrameshwaram and papikonda wildlife sanctuaries and mukurthi national park
- Kawal and Shree Venkateshwara wildlife sanctuaries; and Nagarjunasagar-srisailam tiger.