Indo-Burma Forests: Biodiversity at Risk Due to Urbanization

Topics: Biodiversity, Species, Endangered species Pages: 6 (1219 words) Published: August 30, 2014
Dianna Smith
“Indo-Burma Forests”
Forests, some of the most essential ecosystems in the world, house about forty to seventy-five percent all plants and animals globally. Unfortunately, the amount of biodiversity in forests is severely at risk due to the increasing deforestation over the past four decades. It is estimated in the biological community that approximately 50,000 species are completely wiped out annually as a result of urbanization, land clearance, logging, and other human techniques. Dr. Edward Wilson, a Harvard professor, predicts that half of all of earth’s species could be extinct in about 50 years, unless the deforestation rate decreases. In 2011, Conservation International (also known as CI) conducted a study of the top ten most endangered forests in the world (half of them located Asia-Pacific Region). Of the ten, the Indo-Burma forests were deemed the number one most endangered forest. Encompassing approximately 2,373,000 km2, the forests spreads from eastern India to Southern china. The Indo-Burma forests are considered to be one of 34 “biodiversity hotspots,” a term coined by Norman Myers (a British biologist), which is a biogeographic landscape characterized by outstanding levels of habitat loss and plant endemism. Over ninety-five percent of the region’s forests have been destroyed, which leaves only about five percent of the original forest area still standing; therefore, the Indo-Burma forests are the most vulnerable forests globally. The Indo-Burma forests are positioned in the midst of floodplains, lakes, and rivers. These various waterways give off life and prosperity, allowing richness in biodiversity as well as resources. This region is home to a number of the largest freshwater fish, bird, and turtle species. There is also, an assortment of ecosystems embodied in this hotspot, comprising of dry evergreen, wet evergreen, and deciduous forests. There are also several patches of woodlands and scrublands on karst limestone ridges, some in costal lands as well as dispersed heath forests. Additionally, a broad range of distinct, restricted vegetation developments, including seasonally flooded grasslands, lowland floodplain swamps, and mangroves. This vast biological diversity is a result of topographical interaction, soil physiognomies, climate change, and seasonal rainfall patterns. The plant species are abundantly diverse with 13,500 vascular plants estimated with about half of them being endemic. The flora of forests range from a variety of ginger and orchids (over 1,000 different orchid species found in Thailand alone) to tropical hardwood trees including Tectonagrandis (teak) and Dipterocarp (which happens to be commercially valuable). The animal species are even more widespread as Indo-Burma is continually unmasking biological treasures. In the last twelve years, [the following] six huge mammals have been discovered: The Saola, the Annamite Muntjac, the Large-Antlered Muntjac, the Leaf Deer, the Grey Shanked Douc, and the Annamite Rabbit. There are approximately 430 mammal species residing in the region; over seventy species and seven types are endemic. Over 280 amphibian species are found in the hotspot, but there is not high level of endemism outside of the genus level. The region has noteworthy freshwater fish creatures; there are over 1,260 recognized species (about 10% of the world’s total freshwater fish). There are more than 1,260 bird species with over 60 being endemic. The floodplain wetlands and the rivers are absolutely essential for bird species conservation since population numbers have declined due to human expansion and hunting. The reptile population is one of the more prevalent species of the region. Almost 520 species of reptile reside there which more than 200 species being endemic and twelve genera. This Indo-Burma hotspot carries perhaps the largest assortment of freshwater turtles globally; there are exactly 53 species (57 including tortoises),...
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