Rare low-basalt plateau with 76 plant species in Western Ghats Discovered

  • IASbaba
  • January 28, 2023
  • 0
Environment & Ecology
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In News: Researchers from Pune have discovered a low-level basalt plateau, an isolated flat-topped steep hill, in the Western Ghats in Maharashtra.

  • Recorded 76 plant species belonging to 24 families
  • Registered a floristic inventory which they claim to be important from the conservation point of view, considering the rampant urbanisation.
  • Location: Manjare village

The Details:

  • Three types of rock outcrops are known in the biodiversity hotspot of Western Ghats — lateritic outcrops at high (HLF) and low altitude (LLF), and basalt outcrops at high altitudes (BM). Now a low-altitude basalt outcrop has been found in Murbad district, about 100 kilometres from Mumbai.
  • Rock outcrops are landscape habitats with more areas of rock surface exposure than surrounding areas.
  • It emerges when the surface soil and other materials wear off, exposing the parent rock surface. The outcrop is identified if the area has more than 50 per cent of such rocks.
  • Besides the outcrops, the team also recorded 76 plant species belonging to 24 families, mainly from Poaceae, Leguminosae and Cyperaceae ranges.
  • What stands out is:
    • It is the first time that such plants were found during research on floral biodiversity.
    • The discovery holds significance as flora growing on these rocks experience multiple environmental stresses.
    • As they grow among rocks, the flora faces a harsher environment compared to other species growing elsewhere
    • What are the Challenges?
      • Limited soil, restricting their nutrient availability
      • The lack of soil also reduces water retention capacity, which puts additional water stress on the plants
      • Face challenges during peak summers: In summer, the rock surfaces have higher temperatures than soil or other surfaces, making it difficult for these species to survive.
    • But despite multiple stresses, these plants are found thriving which shows that these plants have adapted to their surroundings and indicates that a certain level of endemism also exists.

Kas Plateau

  • Locally called as ‘Kas Pathar’ or ‘Plateau of Flowers’.
  • A UNESCO world natural heritage site in Maharashtra, is a lateritic plateau (composed of mainly laterite rock, rich in iron and aluminium content) that hosts many endemic wild flowering plants.
  • Location: 25 Km away from Satara District H.Q. & 20 Km away from Northern part of Koyana Sanctuary.
  • The major portion of the plateau is Reserve Forest.
  • Kas plateau is listed under the Protection Working Circle.
  • Kas lake (built 100 years ago) is a perennial source of Water supply for western part of Satara city by gravity.

News Source: Down to Earth


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