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Endemic Species - What are Endemic Species

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What is Species?

A Species is a group of strongly related organisms that are very similar to each other and are usually capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. The species is the basic category of taxonomic classification, ranking below genus or subgenus. A species is an organism's basic unit of classification, taxonomic rank, and biodiversity unit. A species is the biggest collection of organisms in which any two individuals of the right sexes or mating types can create fertile offspring, often by sexual reproduction. The karyotype, DNA sequence, anatomy, behaviour, and ecological niche are all other ways to identify a species. Furthermore, because fossil reproduction cannot be analysed, palaeontologists adopt the chronospecies idea.

What is Endemic Species?

Endemic species are those plants and animals that exist only in one geographical region. Species can be endemic to large or small areas of the world. Some may be endemic to the particular continent; some are endemic to a part of a continent, and others to a single island. 

An endemic species are important because they are in the habitats restricted to a particular area due to climate change, urban development, or other occurrences. Endemic species are often endangered, so it is important to save the species. Usually, an area that contains the endemic species is isolated in some way so that species have difficulty spreading to other areas. For example, the Hawaiian Islands in Australia, and the southern tip of Africa, as many of 90% of naturally occurring species are endemic.

A native species is one that is found in certain ecology due to natural processes, such as natural distribution and development. For example, a koala is a native of Australia. No human interference brought a native species to the area or influenced its spread to that area. Native species are also called indigenous species. The key aspect of the species being native is that it occurs in an area without human influence. When a species is indigenous, it’s found in a particular location or surrounding areas. An endemic species, however, is a native species found only in a picky area, large or small.

Often an endemic species is confined to a certain area because they are highly adapted to the particular niche. They may eat only a certain type of plant that is found nowhere, or a plant is perfectly adapted to flourish in a very particular climate and soil type.

Because of the area of expertise and inability to move into new habitats, some endemic species are at particular risk of destruction when a new disease hits, when the quality of the habitat is threatened, or if an invasive species enters its region and becomes a competitor or predator.

Here is the list of wild animals found in India that are endangered and endemic:

Endemic Species Fauna

The origin of the word can be explained in a variety of ways. Fauna, or "Faunus," is the name of the goddess of fertility in Roman mythology. "Fauns," which means "Forest Spirits," is another source. The animal kingdom includes a wide range of animal life types. As a result, the classification of animals is far more complicated than the classification of flowers.

Examples of Endemic species of Fauna

  • Asiatic Lion

It is also known as the Indian lions and is found in the Gir forest national park of Gujarat. Gujarat lion is one of the five big cats that inhabit India and others are Bengal Tiger and Indian leopards.

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  • Sangai Deer

Sangai also called brow-antlered deer is an endemic and endangered species of deer, found only in Keibul Lamjao National Park of Manipur. The park is a marshy wetland located in the southern parts of Loktak Lake.

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  • Lion-Tailed Macaque

It is India’s endemic and endangered primate species and also ranks among the rarest and most threatened monkeys, which is endemic to the Western Ghats of south India.

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  • Kashmir Stag

It is also known as Hangul. It is the only species of elk native of India and found endemic in the dense riverside forests of Dachigam National Park, Kashmir Valley of Jammu and Kashmir, and Chamba in Himachal Pradesh.

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  • Nilgiri Tahr

It is a wild sheep species. It is endemic and endangered to the Nilgiri Hills of the Western Ghats. The Nilgiri ibex is closely related to the sheep. It inhabits the open montane grassland habitat in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

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  • Purple Frog

It is found in the rainforest of the Western Ghats in India and spends most of its life underground. These unique frogs are also known as pig-nosed frogs and are endemic to that region of Western Ghats.

  • Pygmy Hog

It is the critically endangered and endemic species of suid and now it is found only in Assam. The smallest wild pig or piglets are the only member of the genus Porcula.

  • Bronze Back Vine Snake

It is also known as Western Ghats bronze back. It is a grassland snake and mildly venomous species. It is endemic and endangered and found largely in the Nilgiri hills of Western Ghats.

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  • Nilgiri Blue Robin

It is endangered and endemic to the shoal forest of southern India. This small passerine bird is found to occur only above 1200 m altitudes in high-altitude grasslands of Western Ghats.

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  • Malabar Civet

It is a spotted civet endemic to the Western Ghats of India. Civet is nocturnal and listed as critically endangered.

  • Anaimalai Gliding Frog

It is also known as the false Malabar Gliding frog. It is endemic to the Anaimalai Hills of Tamil Nadu and threatened by habitat loss.

  • Namdapha Flying Squirrel

It is endemic to northeastern India and found in Namdapha national park of Arunachal Pradesh. The arboreal and night-time or nocturnal squirrel population are not known.

Endemic wild species of India also include Gooty Tarantula, Fan Throated Lizard, Tokay Gecko, and Common Krait Snake, etc. The Indian Subcontinent is home to 25 species of Deer, 15 species of Monkey, 15 species of the cat family, 6 species of Bears, and 5 species of canid.

Endemic Species Flora

Flora is a Latin word that means "Goddess of the Flower." Flora is a term used to describe a group of plants found in a specific area. This name encompasses the entire plant kingdom. Many variables are used to classify and differentiate flora. The place in which they grow or are found is the best among them. Some thrive in deserts or near water, some in hilly locations, and still others are indigenous to a particular region.

Examples of Endemic Species of Flora

  • Sapria Himalayan

It is a rare and interesting root parasite plant on the roots of plants of grape family and is endemic to northeastern India. It is at the brink of extinction due to incessant human intervention in the natural forest environment and has been included in the endangered category. It was first reported from Arunachal Pradesh and is also distributed in Assam, Manipur, and Meghalaya.

  • Uvaria Lurida

It is a genus of flowering plants in the soursop family. Species are distributed over the old world tropics. It has about 150 species. These are climbing trees or shrubs. The flowers are borne singly or in a cluster. There are 6 petals in two whorls and many stamens.

  • Nepenthes Khasiana

It is a carnivorous plant endemic to the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya. It is critically endangered also. This is a pitcher plant. This is believed to be the only species of pitcher plant found only in India.

Factors Affecting Endemic Species

  1. Habitat loss and fragmentation due to draining and filling of inland wetlands

  2. Pollution also plays an important role in affecting the species.

Almost 60% of the endemic species in India are found in the Himalayas and the Western Ghats. Endemic species are mainly concentrated in the regions of North-East India, North-west Himalayas, Western Ghats, and Andaman and the Nicobar Islands.

The biologists who study endemism do not consider only species but also the narrowest classification of living things. They also look at the higher-level classifications of family, genus, and order. These hierarchical arrangements are nested so that, in most cases, an order of animals and plants contain a number of families, each family includes several genera i.e. genus. These levels of categorization or classification are known as taxonomic levels. Species is the definite taxonomic classification, with each species closely modified or adapted to its particular environment. Therefore, the species are endemic to small areas and local environmental conditions. Genera, a broader class are usually endemic to larger areas or regions.

Animals and plants can become endemic in two common ways. Some grow in a particular place, adapting to the local environment and continuing to live within the limits of that environment. This type of endemism is identified as autochthonous or native to the place where it is found. An endemic species that originated somewhere else but has lost most of its earlier geographic range is known as allochthonous. Another simpler term for allochthonous is Relict, which means something that is left behind. For example Australian koala, which evolved in its current environment and continues to occur nowhere else is an example of autochthonous. And California coast redwood is an example of allochthonous which millions of years ago ranged across North America and Eurasia, but now exists in isolated patches near the coast of Northern California.

In addition to the geographic relicts animals and plants have greatly restricted ranges today that is known as a taxonomic relict. These are the species or genera that are sole survivors of once-diverse families or orders. Elephants are taxonomic relics. Millions of years ago the Elephantidae family had 25 different species. But, today only two species remain one living in Asia and others in Africa. Likewise, horses are another familiar species whose family had many more branches.

Taxonomic relicts are often simultaneously geographic relicts. For example, the Ginkgo tree was one of the many related species that ranged across Asia 100 million years ago. Today the family ginkgo ales contain only one genus. Likewise, the coelacanth, a rare fish is found only in the deep waters of the Indian Ocean, Madagascar. It is the sole remnant of a large and widespread group that flourished hundreds of millions of years ago.

Where living things become relict endemics, some sort of environmental change is usually present. The redwood, elephant, ginkgo originated in the Mesozoic era when the earth was much warmer and wetter than today. All the species managed to survive in the catastrophic environmental changes that occurred in the Cretaceous era, that changes eliminated dinosaurs and many terrestrial and aquatic animals. More recently two million years of cold ice ages and warmer interglacial periods in the Pleistocene era substantially altered the distribution of the world’s plants and animals.

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FAQs on Endemic Species - What are Endemic Species

1. Why is it important to protect endemic species?

Endangered species are significant for a variety of reasons. First, because endemic species have a more limited distribution than widely spread species, threats to endemics pose a greater danger of extinction.

As a result, endemic species are a focus for biological diversity, or biodiversity, protection.

2. Why do animals alter their environment?

To live, all organisms must adapt to their surroundings. This entails adjusting to survive the ecosystem's climatic conditions, predators, and other species competing for the same food and space. An animal can adapt to its environment in a variety of ways.