Major Ecosystems in India, their species and characteristic features

Major Ecosystems in India , their species and characteristic features


  1. Eco-sensitive zones ,
  2. GO and NO GO zones of MOEF,
  3. Marine protected zones.
  4. DNA barcoding for fish conservation.


  1. What is an Ecosystem?
  • Plants, animals and other organisms together with the physical environment with which they interact constitute the Ecological system or Ecosystem.
  1. What are the components of an Ecosystem?

The components of an ecosystem are

  • (a) Abiotic and (b) Biotic components


Abiotic components:   Temperature, Humidity, Light, Water, Atmospheric pressure, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Carbon dioxide Carbohydrates, Lipids, Proteins.

Biotic components: Producers (Green plants), Consumers (Animals), Decomposers (Microorganisms)

  1. What are the types of an Ecosystem?

(1) Terrestrial ecosystem: Ecosystems found on land e.g. forest, grasslands, deserts,Tundra.

(2) Aquatic ecosystem: Plants and animal community found in water bodies.               These can be further classified into two sub groups.

(i) Fresh water ecosystems, such as rivers, lakes and ponds.

(ii) Marine ecosystems, such as oceans, estuary.

  1. What are all the major ecosystems in India?

(a) Terrestrial                                     1. Forests

(i) Tropical rain forests

(ii) Tropical deciduous forests

Moist and dry

(iii) Temperate broad leaf forests

(iv)Temperate needle – leaf or coniferous forests

(v) Alpine and tundra forests

  1. Grasslands
  2. Deserts

(i) Thar deserts

(ii) Rann of Kutch

  1. Mountains — The Himalayas
  2. Ghats

(b) Aquatic

  1. Fresh water ecosystem
  2. Marine ecosystem


Ecosystem Climatic conditions Characteristics Places of distribution Species
Tropical Rain forest Rainfall: > 200cm
Temp:High(24 deg C)
Hot and Humid climate
Height of trees is 40 to 60 cm
Leaves are dark green and broad
1)Andaman & Nicobar Islands
2)Parts of north eastern  states
3)Western ghats
Ebony,mahogany,rosewood,rubber,cinchona,white cedar,Hollock ,kail
Tropical moist deciduous forest Rainfall: 200-100 cm(between)
30 to 40 cm high trees
Due to deficiency of water they shed their leaves in spring
1)Foothills of Himalayas
2)eastern slopes of the western ghats
Tropical dry deciduous forest Rainfall: 100-70 cm(between)
Temp: 10-20 degC
 6 to 15m high
Roots are thick and long
Rich in nutrients,Brown soils
1)Peninsular plateau
2)plains of bihar
3)uttar pradesh
Dry Forests or Arid Forests Low rainfall (<50 cm) Relative humidity is less Thorny vegetation
Roots are very long
Leaves are small
Rajasthan,punjab,Haryana,Eastern slopes of western ghats,Gujarat,North western parts of country Cactus,Thorny bushes,kikar,Babool,Date palm,Acacia,Khair,Euphorbias


  1. What are Ecosensitive zones?
  • Wildlife conservation strategy 2002 envisaged that “land falling within 10kms of the boundaries of the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries should be notified as eco fragile zones under environmental protection act”
  • It was decided that delineation of eco sensitive zones must be site specific and relate to regulation,rather than prohibition of certain activities.
  • In case where sensitive corridors,connectivity and ecologically important patches crucial for landscape linkages,are even beyond 10 kms width,these also should be included in Eco-sensitive zones.
  • The distribution of an eco-sensitive zone and the extent of regulation vary from area to area.
  1. What is the purpose of declaring Eco sensitive zones?
  • They create some kind of shock absorber for the protected areas.
  • They act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection.
  • To prevent ecological damage caused due to developmental activities around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
  1. What are the activities prohibited inside eco sensitive zones?
  • Commercial mining
  • Setting of saw mills
  • Setting of industries causing pollution
  • Commercial use of firewood
  • Establishment of major hydroelectric power projects
  • Use or production of hazardous substance
  • Undertaking activities related to tourism like over flying the national parks in an aircraft or hot air balloon.
  • Discharge of effluents and solid waste in natural water bodies or terrestrial areas.
  1. What are the activities regulated inside eco sensitive zones?
  • Felling of trees
  • Establishment of hotels and resorts
  • Drastic change of agriculture system
  • Commercial use of natural resource including ground water harvesting
  • Erection of electric cables
  • Fencing of premises
  • Use of polythene bags by shopkeepers
  • Widening of roads
  • Movement of vehicular traffic at night
  • Introduction of exotic species
  • Protection of hill slopes and river banks
  • Air and vehicular pollution
  • Sign boards and hoardings


  1. What are Go and No Go zones?
  • Forest area in our country is classified into Go and No Go zones based on the crown density.
  • No Go zones are dense forest where mining operations are not permitted.
  • Go areas would be those areas where prima facie,the statutory forest advisory committee in the ministry of environment and forest (MOEF) would consider proposals for diversion of forest land for coal mining purposes.


  1. What are GO and NO GO zones for coal mining as classified by MOEF?


To facilitate objective, informed and transparent decision on diversion of forest land for coal mining projects,  MOEF and ministry of coal  had jointly undertaken a study in nine major  coal fields (.Singrauli, Wardha, IB valley,karnapura,west bokaro,Talcher,Hasdeoarand,sohagpur,Mandraigardh )and  classified coal blocks into following  two categories.


  • Unfragmented forest landscapes having gross forest cover (GFC) more than 30% and weighted forest cover (WFC) more than 10% named as category –A or ‘No-Go’ area.
  • Fragmented forest landscapes having GFC less than 30% and WFC less than 10% named as category-B or ‘Go’ area.


  1. What are Coastal,Marine protected areas ?

The convention on Biological diversity defines the Marine and coastal protected area as follows

  • Any defined area within or adjacent to the marine environment together with its overlying water and associated flora,fauna,historical and cultural features,which has been reserved by legislation or other effective means,including custom,with the effect that its marine and/or coastal biodiversity enjoys a higher level of protection then its surroundings.
  • Traditionally the marine protected areas have been established by individual nations.
  1. What are the important marine protected areas in India?

India has 33 marine protected national parks and sanctuaries.The important ones are

  • Gulf of Mannar national Park,Tamilnadu
  • Gulf of kutch Marine national park,Gujarat
  • Gulf of kutch marine sanctuary,Gujarat
  • Mahatma Gandhi Marine national park,Andaman & Nicobar Islands
  • Gahirmatha sanctuary,Orissa
  1. What are the categories of marine protected areas in India?
  • Category I – covers National parks and sanctuaries having zonation in intertidal and subtidal,coral reefs,creeks,algal bed,estuaries,lagoon,sea water.
  • Category II – Includes islands
  • Category III – Includes sandy beaches and mudflats
  1. What is DNA barcoding?
  • DNA barcoding is a taxonomic method that uses a short genetic marker in an organism’s DNA to identify it as belonging to a particular species.
  • Examining genetic sequences can help differentiate species with high accuracy.
  • Applications include,for example,identifying plant leaves even when flowers or fruits are not available,identifying the diet of an animal,based on its stomach contents or faeces.
  1. What are the benefits of DNA barcoding of fishes?
  • The benefits of barcoding fishes include facilitating species identification for all potential users,including taxonomists;highlighting specimens that represent a range expansion of known species;flagging previously unrecognized species;and perhaps most importantly enabling identifications where traditional methods are not applicable.
  1. What is FISH-BOL?
  • The Fish Barcode of Life Initiative (FISH-BOL)is a global effort to coordinate an assembly of a standardized DNA barcode library for all fish species,one that is derived from voucher specimens with authoritative taxonomic identifications.


17.How DNA barcoding helps conservation of fishes ?


  • Fisheries are unsustainable if catch records are based on erroneous or inaccurate species identifications
  • Fisheries assessment is a potential niche for DNA barcoding,which serves for species authentication and may also be used for estimating within-population genetic diversity of exploited fish.
  • Barcoding can pinpoint threatened fish species being sold under nicknames or popular tradenames.
  • Guaranteeing species authenticity along the commercial chain would improve consumer’s security and prevent fraud
  • Declines in population genetic variation diminish the ability of a population to adapt to environmental changes and decrease its chance of long-term survival,thus periodical monitoring of population variation of exploited stocks is highly recommended in fisheries management.

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