FC-for-IAS-Prelims-2018-Environment-Day-50
70 Days WAR Plan

Day#50 Static Flash Cards Environment & Ecology [70 Days WAR Plan]

Pink- headed Duck; Carbon Sequestration; Adaptations by mangroves forests; Formation of Coral Reefs; Coniferous Forest; PM 2.5; Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (Regulation of Livestock Market) Rules of 2017; Autecology; Seagrass; Carbon fixation in the atmosphere;
By IT's Core Team
May 10, 2019

 

 

 

Where is Pink- headed Duck found and what is its conservation status as per IUCN?

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Answer:

  • The pink-headed duck was or is a large diving duck that was once found in parts of the Gangetic plains of India, Bangladesh and in the riverine swamps of Myanmar.
  • But it is feared of being extinct since the 1950s.
  • It was always considered rare.
  • Numerous searches have failed to provide any proof of continued existence.
  • It has been suggested that it may exist in the inaccessible swamp regions of northern Myanmar and some sight reports from that region have led to its status being declared as “Critically Endangered” rather than extinct.
  • The genus placement has been disputed and while some have suggested that it is close to the red-crested pochard (Netta rufina), others have placed it in a separate genus of its own.
  • It is unique in the pink colouration of the head combined with a dark body.
  • A prominent wing patch and the long slender neck are features shared with the common Indian spot-billed duck.
  • The eggs have also been held as particularly peculiar in being nearly spherical.
  • It has been Critically endangered by IUCN.
  • It is included in Appendix I of CITES.
  • It has not been conclusively recorded in India since 1949.
  • It is shy and secretive, inhabiting secluded and overgrown still-water pools, marshes and swamps in lowland forest and tall grasslands, particularly areas subject to seasonal inundation and, in winter, also lagoons adjoining large rivers.
  • Its habitable range is recorded in India, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
  • Maximum records are from north-east India.

 Threats:

  • Wetland degradation and loss of habitat
  • Clearance of forest and conversion of wetlands for agricultural
  • Hunting
  • Invasive alien species water hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes may have contributed to its decline by altering wetland habitats to the detriment of this species.
  • A number of other water bird species have declined in South and South-East Asia as a consequence of human disturbance and/or hunting pressure and egg collection.

 

 

 

Which activities lead to carbon fixation in the atmosphere?

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Answer:

  • Carbon fixation is the incorporation of carbon into organic compounds by living organisms, chiefly by photosynthesis in green plants.
  • Carbon cycling occurs through atmosphere, ocean and through living and dead organisms.
  • According to one estimate 4 × 1013 kg of carbon is fixed in the biosphere through photosynthesis annually.
  • Chemosynthesis is another form of carbon fixation that can take place in the absence of sunlight.
  • A considerable amount of carbon returns to the atmosphere as CO2 through respiratory activities of the producers and consumers.
  • Some amount of the fixed carbon is lost to sediments (weathering of rock) and removed from circulation.
  • Decomposers also contribute substantially to CO2 pool by their processing of waste materials and dead organic matter of land or oceans.
  • Organisms that grow by fixing carbon are called autotrophs.
  • Autotrophs include photoautotrophs, which synthesize organic compounds using the energy of sunlight, and lithoautotrophs, which synthesize organic compounds using the energy of inorganic oxidation.
  • Heterotrophs are organisms that grow using the carbon fixed by autotrophs.
  • The organic compounds are used by heterotrophs to produce energy and to build body structures. “Fixed carbon”, “reduced carbon”, and “organic carbon” are equivalent terms for various organic compounds.
  • Burning of wood, forest fire and combustion of organic matter, fossil fuel, volcanic activity are additional sources for releasing CO2 in the atmosphere.
  • Human activities have significantly influenced the carbon cycle.
  • Rapid deforestation and massive burning of fossil fuel for energy and transport have significantly increased the rate of release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

 

 

 

What would happen if sea grasses of an ocean is/are completely destroyed for some reason?

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Answer:

  • Seagrass beds are formed by a group of approximately 60 flowering plant species.
  • They grow underwater in sandy substrate of the shallow coastal zone of most continents.
  • They display a considerable latitudinal range and have been recorded as far north as Norway and as far south as New Zealand.
  • Seagrasses provide food and habitat for a wide range of species.
  • It also provides key feeding grounds for endangered species such as turtles.
  • In this way its complete destruction would adversely affected the food chains.
  • Seagrass beds provide carbon storage capacity in their own biomass thus contributing to climate change mitigation.
  • Therefore seagrasses are among the systems referred to as blue carbon‘ sinks.
  • Sea grasses have potential to reduce current velocity, dissipate wave energy and stabilize the sediment, most reliably in shallow waters.
  • Reducing wave energy can contribute to reducing flooding and erosion in coastal areas and settlements.
  • Hence if in any case they get destroyed it will affect flooding, climate change, erosion and many other geo physical phenomenon.

 

 

 

What is Autecology?

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Answer:

About Autecology:

  • The branch of ecology is divided into Autecology, Synecology (community ecology) and habitat ecology.
  • Autecology is also called Species Ecology.
  • It is the study of the interactions of an individual organism or a single species with the living and non-living factors of its environment.
  • Autecology is primarily experimental and deals with easily measured variables such as light, humidity, and available nutrients in an effort to understand the needs, life history, and behaviour of the organism or species.
  • It seeks to explain the distribution and abundance of species by studying interactions of individual organisms with their environments.
  • With focus on individual organism, autecology has mechanistic links to several other biological fields, including ethology, evolution, genetics and physiology.

 

 

 

What are the new rules for Livestock under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (Regulation of Livestock Market) Rules of 2017?

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Answer:

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (Regulation of Livestock Market) Rules of 2017:

  • This rule aims to ensure welfare of Animals & Protect Animals from Cruelty.
  • It ensures welfare of the animals in the cattle market and ensure adequate facilities for housing, feeding, feed storage area, water supply, water troughs, ramps, enclosures for sick animals, veterinary care and proper drainage etc.
  • Two Committees have been constituted to facilitate this rule namely:
    • District Animal Market Monitoring Committee for registration of animal market and
    • Animal Market Committee at the local authority level for management of the markets.
  • The prime focus of the regulation is to protect the animals from cruelty and not to regulate the existing trade in cattle for slaughter houses.
  • It ensures and that only healthy animals are traded for agriculture purposes for the benefits of the farmers.
  • The livestock markets are intended to become hubs for trade for animal for agriculture through this process and animal for slaughter will have to be bought from the farmers at the farms.
  • The notified rules will remove the scope of illegal sale and smuggling of the cattle which is a major concern.
  • The specific provisions apply only to animals which are bought and sold in the notified live stock markets and animals that are seized as case properties.
  • It bans the sale of cattle in livestock markets for the purpose of slaughter or animal sacrifices.
  • They aim to provide adequate facilities such as housing, feeding, feed storage area, water supply, water troughs, veterinary care etc. to animals
  • The specific provisions of the new rules apply only to animals which are bought and sold in the notified live stock markets and animals that are seized as case properties, and not on other animals.
  • As per new rules, the cattle buyer has to sign a declaration that “I promise not to re-sell the cattle for slaughter”. This declaration then remains for six months with a committee which includes police officers.
  • The rules mandate that cattle should only be sold in animal markets for farming purposes.
  • Section 38A of the Prevention of Cruelty Act of 1960 under which the rules are made, mandates that any rule made by the Centre under it ought to be laid before each House of the Parliament as soon as it is made.
  • The rules would be placed before the Parliament for a total 30 days.
  • Any modification agreed upon by both Houses of the Parliament should be incorporated in the rules or else they would have no effect.

 

 

 

What is PM 2.5?

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Answer:

Background:

  • Atmospheric aerosol particles, also known as atmospheric particulate matter, particulate matter (PM), particulates, or suspended particulate matter (SPM).
  • They are microscopic solid or liquid matter suspended in Earth’s atmosphere.
  • The term aerosol commonly refers to the particulate/air mixture, as opposed to the particulate matter alone.
  • Sources of particulate matter can be natural or anthropogenic.
  • They have impacts on climate and precipitation that adversely affect human health.
  • PM is usually measured in two size ranges:
    • PM10 and
    • PM2.5.
  • PM10 refers to particles with diameters that are less than or equal to 10 microns in size (a micron, or micrometer, is one-millionth of a meter), or about 1/7 the diameter of a human hair.

About PM 2.5:

  • PM2.5, also called “fine particulates,” consists of particles with diameters that are less than or equal to 2.5 microns in size.
  • It causes respiratory problems and reduces visibility.
  • PM 2.5 particles can only be detected with the help of an electron microscope because they are so small.
  • PM2.5 is a more serious health concern than PM10, since smaller particles can travel more deeply into our lungs and cause more harmful effects.
  • Basically, the issue with PM 2.5 is that it’s small enough to flow through many air filters, including ones in your respiratory system.
  • PM2.5 can lodge itself deep in your lungs and accumulate, potentially leading to respiratory issues later in life.
  • As the particle size is very fine, it can get into blood stream and in large quantities can be fatal.
  • It could lead to premature death from heart and lung disease.
  • Due to their smaller size, the PM 2.5 particles can easily bypass the nose and throat and can easily enter the circulatory system.
  • The particles can also lead to cause chronic diseases such as asthma, heart attack, bronchitis and other respiratory problems.

Sources:

  • These particles come in many sizes and shapes and can be made up of hundreds of different chemicals.
  • Some are emitted directly from a source, such as construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, smokestacks or fires.
  • Most particles form in the atmosphere as a result of complex reactions of chemicals such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which are pollutants emitted from power plants, industries and automobiles.

 

 

 

Why the undergrowth on the floor is very less in mountainous coniferous forests?

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Answer:

About Coniferous Forest:

  • Coniferous forests grow in a wide range of climates, from the coldest polar regions to the warmest tropical regions and everything in between.
  • The reason they’re so prevalent worldwide is because they take advantage of certain environmental conditions that other trees aren’t able to live in as well.
  • As a result, they can look a lot different from other types of biomes.

Reason for less undergrowth in mountainous coniferous forest:

  • Structurally, it is formed by two layers or stratums:
    • the canopy (junction of the tree tops, which get together to form the roof of the forests) and
    • the undergrowth (vegetation formed by grasses and bushes that grow beneath the trees).
  • In some coniferous forests there is also an intermediate bushy layer.
  • Coniferous trees shed their pine leaves.
  • The fallen leaves react with the soil basis.
  • Because of this soil basis, mineral ions are not available for plants.
  • This process is called Chelation.
  • Because of the process of Chelation, the mountain soil becomes acidic and undergrowth is not supported.
  • Ample green zones among the mountains is also another reason for this less undergrowth.
  • Hence, they grow in poor soils and house a herbaceous undergrowth dominated by perennial herbs.

 

 

 

What are the necessary conditions for the formation of Corals?

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Answer:

About Corals:

  • Corals are marine invertebrates in the class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria.
  • They typically live in compact colonies of many identical individual polyps.
  • The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans.
  • They secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.

Ideal conditions for the formation of Coral Reefs:

  • Sunlight:
    • Corals need to grow in shallow water where sunlight can reach them.
    • Corals depend on the zooxanthellae (algae) that grow inside of them for oxygen and other things, and since these algae needs sunlight to survive, corals also need sunlight to survive.
    • Corals rarely develop in water deeper than 165 feet (50 meters).
  • Clear water:
    • Corals need clear water that lets sunlight through.
    • They don’t thrive well when the water is opaque.
    • Sediment and plankton can cloud water, which decreases the amount of sunlight that reaches the zooxanthellae.
  • Warm water temperature:
    • Reef-building corals require warm water conditions to survive.
    • Different corals living in different regions can withstand various temperature fluctuations.
    • However, corals generally live in water temperatures of 68–90° F or 20–32° C.
  • Clean water:
    • Corals are sensitive to pollution and sediments.
    • Sediment can create cloudy water and be deposited on corals, blocking out the sun and harming the polyps.
    • Wastewater discharged into the ocean near the reef can contain too many nutrients that cause seaweeds to overgrow the reef.
  • Saltwater:
    • Corals need saltwater to survive and require a certain balance in the ratio of salt to water.
    • This is why corals don’t live in areas where rivers drain fresh water into the ocean (“estuaries”).
  • Corals in order to grow also need plentiful supply of plankton and enough oxygen.
  • This is important because like any other living organism corals polyps need food and oxygen so as to grow and be able to reproduce.

 

 

 

What are the adaptations of mangrove forests to withstand brackish water and waterlogged areas?

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Answer:

About Mangrove forests:

  • A mangrove is a shrub or small tree that grows in coastal saline or brackish water.
  • The term is also used for tropical coastal vegetation consisting of such species.
  • Mangroves occur worldwide in the tropics and subtropics, mainly between latitudes 25° N and 25° S.
  • Mangrove trees have become specialized to survive in the extreme conditions of estuaries.

Adaptations by mangroves forests:

  • Mangroves have had to physically adapt their leaves, their roots and their reproductive methods in order to survive in a harsh, dynamic environment of soft, low oxygen soils and varying salinity.
  • Two key adaptations mangroves have been:
    • the ability to survive in waterlogged and anoxic (no oxygen) soil, and
    • the ability to tolerate brackish waters.
  • There are three ways for the adaptations to their environment they are:
    • Leaf adaptations to saline conditions
    • Root adaptations to soft, saline, low oxygen soils
    • Reproductive adaptations to tidal environment
  • Some mangroves remove salt from brackish estuarine waters through ultra-filtration in their roots.
  • Other species have special glands on their leaves that actively secrete salt, a process that leaves visible salt crystals on the upper surface of the leaves.
  • All mangrove species have laterally spreading roots with attached vertical anchor roots which are very shallow.
  • Because the soil in shallow areas of mangrove forests is typically flooded during high tides, many species of mangrove trees have aerial roots, called pneumatophores that take up oxygen from the air for the roots.
  • Some species also have prop roots or stilt roots extending from the trunk or other roots that help them withstand the destructive action of tides, waves, and storm surges.
  • Many mangrove trees also have a unique method of reproduction.
  • Instead of forming seeds that fall to the soil below and begin growing, mangrove seeds begin growing while still attached to the parent plant.
  • These seedlings, called propagules, even grow roots.
  • After a period of growth, these seedlings drop to the water below and float upright until they reach water that is shallow enough for their roots to take hold in the mud.

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What is Carbon Sequestration in Soil?

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Answer:

About Carbon Sequestration:

  • Carbon is found in all living organisms and is the major building block for life on Earth.
  • Carbon exists in many forms, predominately as:
    • Plant biomass, soil organic matter, and as the gas carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and dissolved in seawater.
  • Carbon sequestration is the long-term storage of carbon in oceans, soils, vegetation (especially forests), and geologic formations.
  • Oceans store most of the Earth’s carbon.
  • But the soils contain approximately 75% of the carbon pool on land.
  • This is three times more than the amount stored in living plants and animals.
  • Therefore, soils play a major role in maintaining a balanced global carbon cycle.
  • Soils contain more carbon than is contained in vegetation and the atmosphere combined.
  • Agricultural carbon sequestration has the potential to substantially mitigate global warming impacts.
  • At the same time, employing methods to enhance carbon sequestration in soil will increase soil quality.

How is Carbon Sequestered in Soils?

  • Through the process of photosynthesis, plants assimilate carbon and return some of it to the atmosphere through respiration.
  • The carbon that remains as plant tissue is then consumed by animals or added to the soil as litter when plants die and decompose.
  • The primary way in which the carbon is stored within soil is as soil organic matter (SOM).
  • SOM is a complex mixture of carbon compounds, consisting of decomposing plant and animal tissue, microbes (protozoa, nematodes, fungi, and bacteria), and carbon associated with soil minerals.
  • Carbon can remain stored in soils for millennia or be quickly released back into the atmosphere.
  • Climatic conditions, natural vegetation, soil texture, and drainage all affect the amount and length of time carbon is stored.

Methods that significantly enhance carbon sequestration in soil include

  • Conservation tillage (low till / no-till farming):
    • It is the process of minimizing or eliminating manipulation of the soil for crop production.
    • This includes the practice of mulch tillage, which leaves crop residues on the soil surface.
    • These procedures generally reduce soil erosion, improve water use efficiency, and increase carbon concentrations in the topsoil.
    • Conservation tillage can also reduce the amount of fossil fuel consumed by farm operations
  • Cover cropping:
    • It is the use of crops such as clover and small grains for protection and soil improvement between periods of regular crop production.
    • Cover crops improve carbon sequestration by enhancing soil structure, and adding organic matter to the soil.
  • Crop rotation:
    • The process of planting different crops on a rotating pattern of years (e.g. corn-oats-clover).
    • It will reduce the loss of carbon from the soil and with some additions (e.g. manure- lime-phosphorous) will add carbon to soils.
  • All of the methods above are more widely used in organic farming than in conventional farming. Carbon stored in soils oxidizes rapidly.

Benefits of Soil Sequestration of Carbon:

  • Removing CO2 from the atmosphere is only one significant benefit of enhanced carbon storage in soils.
  • Improved soil and water quality,
  • Decreased nutrient loss,
  • Reduced soil erosion,
  • Increased water conservation, and
  • greater crop production may result from increasing the amount of carbon stored in agricultural soils.
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