Free IAS coaching day 53

Ecotone/Energy Flow


Ecotones Energy Flow

Ecotone: Ecology and Ecosystem

Ecotone, a transitional area of vegetation between two different plant communities, such as forest and grassland. It has some of the characteristics of each bordering biological community and often contains species not found in the overlapping communities. An ecotone may exist along a broad belt or in a small pocket, such as a forest clearing, where two local communities blend together.
The ecotones may be narrow (1 km) or very wide, extending to large areas up to 100 kms.
In other way, a zone of transition between two or more adjacent communities is known as an ecotone. The common examples of ecotone are following:
• the border between a forest and a grassland,
• area between a soft-bottom and a hard-bottom marine substrate,
• the bank of a stream running through a meadow,
• estuary lying between river and sea, etc.
The word was coined from a combination of eco(logy) plus -tone, from the Greek tonos or tension – in other words, a place where ecologies are in tension.
Biotic Aspects of the Ecotones
In the ecotone, the environmental conditions are intermediate between the two adjacent communities, but the structure of ecotone is strikingly different from its adjacent communities. Ecotones offer more food and shelter than its main communities. Due to this, ecotone has higher species diversity and in many cases higher population than either of the main communities.
This diversity that is not directly controlled by the climate or fundamental environmental factors, but because of the migrations of individuals of different species populations from both communities in search of food and other resources. Further, a number of special populations can become adapted specifically to the ecotone.
As a rule ecotones contains more species and denser population that either of the neighboring communities. This is called Edge Effect. There are certain species which are completely restricted to the ecotone and they are characterstic of any ecotone and are celled Edge Species.
A common example of the edge effect in action can be seen in those species of owl that live in ecotone between forest and grassland. They depend on forest trees for nesting, and they do their hunting in the grassland, where they deepend on field rodents for food.
In manmade communities such as agricultural field the ecotone between the field and the forest may act as a refuse for animal species formarly found in the plowed area, as well as for other plants such as weeds. Ecotone of this type is also the prime habitat of many species of insects, game birds and mammals.
Ecotones are particularly significant for mobile animals, as they can exploit more than one set of habitats within a short distance.
Physical Factors behind the Creation of Ecotones
Changes in the physical environment create ecotones. Such changes in the physical environment may produce a sharp boundary, as in the example of a shoreline or the interface between areas of forest and cleared land.
Alternatively, a more gradually blended interface area will be found, where species from each community will be found together as well as unique local species. Mountain ranges often create such ecotones, due to the wide variety of climatic conditions experienced on their slopes. They may also provide a boundary between species due to the obstructive nature of their terrain; Mont Ventoux in France is a good example, marking the boundary between the flora and fauna of northern and southern France. Most wetlands are also ecotones.



Mahajanapadas


Mahajanapadas

Mahajanapadas

• In the beginning of the 6th century B.C., the northern India consisted of a large number of independent kingdoms of which some of them had monarchical forms of government, while some others were republics.
• There was a concentration of monarchies on the Gangetic plain, the republics were scattered on the foothills of the Himalayas and in northwestern India.
• These republics consisted of either a single tribe such as the Shakyas, Koliyas, Licchavis and Mallas or a confederacy of tribes such as the Vrijjs and Yadavas.
• In the republics, the power of decision in all matters of state vested with the Public Assembly which was composed of the tribal representatives or head of families.
• All decisions were taken by a majority vote.
• The formations of states and republics in the 6th century B.C. have often been linked to urbanisation.
• The growth of urban centres and towns during this period is referred to as second urbanisation. The first urbanisation was that of the Indus Valley Civilisation.
• The degrees of urbanisation are reflected in different kinds of towns as they grew out of earlier settlements.
• The genesis of towns was not uniform and this gave them a diverse feature. Some of the towns grew as political and administrative centres e.g. Hastinapur, Rajagriha, Shravasti, Kaushambi, Champa and Allicchatra. There were many others which grew as markets, each catering to a variety of villages usually located where there was an agricultural surplus that could regularly enter an exchange nexus. The exchange could be extended to goods from more distant places if the market was on a trade route, such as at Ujjain.
• Towns also grew from being sacred centres where people gathered, as is thought to have been the case with Vaishali.
• Thus, the concentration of people and the scope for a range of occupations and products were the essential features responsible for the growth of towns.
STATE FORMATION: REPUBLICS AND MONARCHIES
• The origin of the state or the territorial republics situated in the sub-Himalayan region has been traced to the reaction against the pattern of life that evolved in the later Vedic period.
• The movement against the Vedic life was aimed at the abolition of the growing class and sex distinctions and directed against the acceptance of superstitious religious practices which took a heavy toll of cattle stock.
• It was also directed against the hereditary kingship, bolstered up by the Brahmanas.
• In the post-Vedic period the tribal structure disintegrated and a number of monarchical kingdoms appeared together with ganarajya (republics), which preserved many features of the tribal structure.
• The development of organised states was accompanied by the advancement of material culture, urbanisation and a rapid spread of new religious ideas.
• The central feature of the republican government was its seemingly corporate character.
• The actual procedure of government involved the meeting of the representatives of the tribes or the heads of families in the Public Assembly (Santhagara) of the capital city.
• The assembly was presided over by one of the representatives who took the title of Raja.
• The officers were not hereditary and he was regarded as a chief rather than a king.
• The matter for discussion was placed before the assembly and debated and if a unanimous decision could not be reached, it was put to the vote.
• But in reality, the assemblies were dominated by the oligarchs.
• The absence of monarchy did not necessarily mean the prevalence of democracy in the true sense of the term. Members of the assembly belonged mostly to Kshatriya caste and at least in the case of Lichchavis it is known that non-Kshatriyas had no place in it. This means that republican system in essence was oligarchical.
• The administration was in the hands of officials such as the assistants to the chief, the treasurer (bhandagarika), the commander of the forces (senapati).
• Judicial procedure was extremely elaborate, there were many courts in a hierarchical order for trying the same case, one after another in the Lichhavis republic.
• The republics were less opposed to individualistic and independent opinion than the monarchies and were ready to tolerate unorthodox views. It was the republics that produced the two leaders of heterodox sects-Jainism and Buddhism.
• Brahmanical political theories were not accepted in the republics. The most striking of the non-Brahmin theories was the Buddhist account of the origin of state, possibly the earliest expression of the theory of social contract.
• The republics had retained, much more tribal traditions than did the monarchies. In the transition from tribe to republic, they lost the essential democratic pattern of the tribe but retained the idea of government through an assembly representing tribe.
• In the monarchies, tribal loyalty weakened and gave way to caste loyalties.
• The political expansion of kingdoms over large areas also weakened the popular assemblies. The kings no longer summoned the sabha and samiti. Since sabha and samiti were essentially tribal institutions, they decayed and disappeared as tribes disintegrated into varnas and lost their identity.
• With the emergence of large states, such as Magadha and Kosala, it was not possible to hold assemblies, attended by people from different parts of the empire, because of difficulty of communication.
• Further being tribal, the old assembly could not find place for many non-Vedic people who lived in the new kingdoms. The divinity of the king with its corollary of power of the priests and of Vedic rituals further reduced the status of the popular assemblies. The changed circumstances were thus not congenial for the continuance of the old assemblies. Instead, in this period, there was a small body, parishad, consisting exclusively of Brahmanas.
• The monarchies were concentrated in the Ganges plain which was a more fertile area.
• The two systems, republican and monarchical were not mutually exclusive and a change from one to other was not unheard of. Kamboja, for instance, changed from a monarchy to a republic. But this was less common in the Ganges plain where the monarchy was the predominant pattern.
• The decline of tribal culture, in combination with a growing dependence on an agrarian economy stimulated the growth of monarchies.
• An aura was created around the king by invoking various gods at the conservation ceremony to endow him with their respective qualities.
• In the rituals, he was sometimes also represented as a god. The Rajasitya sacrifice conferred supreme power on him. The Asvamedha sacrifice meant an unquestioned control over an area in which the royal horse ran uninterrupted. In the Vajapeya sacrifice, a chariot race was organised in which the royal chariot was made to win the race against his kinsmen. All these rituals impressed the people resulting in increasing power and prestige of the king.
• The rising monarchy derived strength from taxation, which became common during this period. Settled life and stable agriculture led to the production of considerable surplus and this could be collected by king in the form of taxes.
• In the Shatpatha Brahmana, the king has been described as devourer of the people, because he lived on the taxes collected from them.
• The taxes were probably deposited with an officer called sangrihitri.
• Later Vedic texts also mention an officer called bhagdugha in regard to taxation.
• On account of an assured income from taxation, the king appointed many officers and the administrative system became very elaborate. There were 12 Ratnini (jewel- bearers), who were probably the high functionaries. The list included the chief priest, the commander and the royal treasurer.
• From this period, the widespread use of iron in eastern UP and western Bihar facilatated the formation of large territorial states.
• The new agricultural tools enabled the peasants to produce far more foodgrains than they required for consumption.
• These material advantages naturally enabled the people to stick to their land and also to expand at the cost of the neighbouring areas.
• People began owing strong allegiance to the janapada or the territory to which they belonged and not to the jana or tribe to which they belonged.
• The lynchpin of the janapada was the ruling clan, after which it was named, and this in turn ensured some linguistic and cultural commonality.
• The Buddhist literature Anguttara Nikaya gives a list of sixteen great kingdoms called ‘Sixteen Mahajanapadas’. They were Anga, Magadha, Kasi, Kosala, Vajji, Malla, Chedi, Vatsa, Kuru, Panchala, Matsya, Surasena, Asmaka, Avanti, Gandhara and Kambhoja.
• The Jain texts also contain references to the existence of sixteen kingdoms.
• In course of time, the small and weak kingdoms either submitted to the stronger rulers or gradually got eliminated.
• Finally in the mid 6th century B.C., only four kingdoms – Vatsa, Avanti, Kosala and Magadha survived.
16 MAHAJANAPADAS
The 16 mahajanapadas of that period as listed in Buddhist Pali Canon were:
1. Magadha kingdom (South Bihar) – The first capital was Rajagriha and the later capital was Pataliputra. Brihadrata is claimed to be the founder of the Magadha kingdom.
2. Anga and Vanga kingdoms (East Bihar) – The capital was Champa. It was a prosperous business centre. The kingdoms were later merged by Bindusara into Magadha.
3. Malla kingdom (Gorakhpur region) – The capital was Kushinagar. It was the seat of many other smaller kingdoms. Their main religion was Buddhism. The Malla kingdom was later merged into the Magadha kingdom.
4. Chedi kingdom (Yamuna and Narmada belt) – The capital was Tisvathirati. One of the families from this kingdom later merged into the Kalinga kingdom from this royal family.
5. Vatsa kingdom (Allahabad) – The capital was Kausambi. The most important ruler of this kingdom was King Udayan.
6. Kashi kingdom (Benaras) – The capital was Varanasi. Though many battles were fought against the Kosala kingdom, eventually Kashi was merged with the Kosala kingdom. Dhritarashtra once ruled over the Kashi and Anga kingdoms.
7. Kos kingdom (Ayodhya) – Though its capital was Sravtsti which is identical with Sahet-Mahet but Ayodhya was an important town in Kosala. It was merged in the Magadha by the Magadha ruler, Ajatashatru. Kosala also included the tribal republican territory of Sakyas of Kapilvastu.
8 Vajji kingdom (North Bihar) – Vajji was the seat of a united republic of eight smaller kingdom of which Lichchavis, Janatriks and Videhas were also members. The Lichchavis kingdom had its capital at Vaishali. It was a prosperous kingdom north of Bihar, but was later merged with the Magadha kingdom. The Videhas kingdom had its capital at Mithila. Its most important ruler was King Janaka. This kingdom too was merged with the Magadh a kingdom.
9. Kuru (Thaneswar, Meerut and present day Delhi) – The capital city was Indraprastha. It was an important kingdom during the Vedic era and was friendly with the kingdoms of the Bhoja and Panchala.
10. Panchala kingdom (Uttar Pradesh) – Its capital was at Kampila. Earlier a monarch state, it later became an independent republic. Kanauj was an important town in this kingdom.
11. Matsya kingdom (Jaipur) – Its capital was Viratanagar. The Matsya kingdom got its independence from the Chedi kingdom (ruled by King Sahaja) under the leadership of Virat Raja.
12. Surasena kingdom (Mathura) – Its capital was at Mathura and its most famous ruler was Avantiputra.
13. Assaka kingdom (Godavari) – Its capital was at Pertaii and Brahamdatta was its most important ruler.
14. Gandharva kingdom (Peshawar and Rawalpindi) – Its capital Taxila was important as a trade and education centre (Ancient Taxila university) during the later Vedic age. Its ruler King Pukkusati was defeated by the Magadha ruler Bindusara.
15. Kamboj kingdom (North-east Kashmir) – Its capital was Rajapure. Hajara was an important trade and commerce centre of this kingdom.
16. Avanti kingdom.(Malwa) – Avanti was divided into two parts north and south. The northern part had its capital at Ujjain and the southern part had its capital at Mahismati. It was the most vulnerable of all the mahajanapadas and was ruled by many kingdoms before being finally merged into the Magadha kingdom.


Forest Fire


Forest Fire

The National Forest Policy 1988 aims for 33% of the country’s geographical area under the forest cover for ecological and environmental security. While aiming to expand the forest cover in the country, it is equally important to improve the state and quality of existing forests and protect them against various threats and drivers of degradation. Forest fires are a major cause of degradation of India’s forests.
Fires in forest are not unnatural. It has been a natural part of the ecosystem since origin of forest on this planet. Most of the fires are very useful and for good natural forest development and regeneration.
Throughout historic time-forest fires have been ignited and burned naturally through the forest. These low intensity fires in past kept the forest floor free from the natural annual build up of the litter i.e. tree needles, dead grass, senescent leaves & twigs, thick brush, and dead trees. As a result, fire -has shaped vegetation patterns and wildlife distributions in the Forests. The normal fire season in India is from the month of February to mid June.
Fire effects on all forests are not equal. While same fire, beneficial for one ecosystem, may be for the other, depending upon the climatic conditions, and type of vegetation.
Tropical rain forests choked in fog and continuously drenched by mists and downpours are least susceptible to fires. In deciduous forests of temperate region, as a result of heavy rainfall and dampness and relatively high humidity, fire is very occasional and less damaging. Evergreen forests with broad leaves of dry areas and conifer forests are more susceptible to fire in general.
But now about 90% of the forest fires in India are created by humans.
Impact of Fire
• Fire severely affects the survival and establishment of many shrub species.
• Soil heating due to fire changes its chemical, physical and microbial properties.
• The increase in ammonium and nitrate concentrations in many ecosystems has also been reported as a result of fire incidences.
• The most damaging impact of forest fire on ecosystem is very evident in the Himalayas, where hill existing between the heights of 1000 to 1800 meters are dominated by pine forests and seems to be more fire prone.
• Degradation of water catchments areas resulting into loss of water.
• Loss of wildlife habitat and depletion of wildlife.
• Loss of natural vegetation and reduction of forest cover.
• Global warming.
• Micro-climate change.
• Soil erosion.
• Deteriorating Biological Environment.
• Adverse impact on Health System.
• Socio-economic impact due to loss of valuable timber resources and associated cultural wealth.
• Carbon sequestration potential gets adversely affected.
• Threat to Life and Property.
• Reducing Tourism Values.
Forest Fire Management
The Government of India took number of the progressive steps for protection, preservation and management of forests, including:
1. The Indian Forest Service was revived in 1966 to ensure coordinated professional management of Forests. The purpose of establishing this cadre of officers has been safety and protection of environment and taking care of national interest.
2. The subject ‘Forest’ was transferred from the State List to the Concurrent List of the Constitution of India in 1976 to ensure uniform policy and management throughout the nation. ‘
3. The Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, has prepared a National Master Plan for Forest Fire Control. This plan proposes to introduce a well-coordinated and integrated fire-management programme that includes the following components:
a) Prevention of human-caused fires through education and environmental modification. It will include silvicultural activities, engineering works, people participation, and education and enforcement. It is proposed that more emphasis be given to people participation through Joint Forest Fire Management for fire prevention.
b) Prompt detection of fires through a well coordinated network of observation points, efficient ground patrolling, and communication networks. Remote sensing technology is to be given due importance in fire detection. For successful fire management and administration, a National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) and Fire Forecasting System are to be developed in the country.
c) Fast initial attack measures.
d) Vigorous follow up action.
e) Introducing a forest fuel modification system at strategic points.
f) Firefighting resources.
Each of the above components plays an important role in the success of the entire system of fire management. Special emphasis is to be given to research, training, and development
g) Integrated forest protection: The main objective of this scheme to control forest fires and strengthen the forest protection.  The works like fire-line clearing, assistance to Joint Forest Management committees, creating water bodies, purchase of vehicles and communication equipments, purchase of fire fighting tools, etc., are being undertaken under this.

Bird Life International


Bird Life International

• It was founded as in 1922 the International Council for Bird Preservation.
• It is a global partnership of conservation organizations that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources.
• It changed its name in 1993 to “BirdLife International”.
• It is the world’s largest partnership of conservation organizations, with over 120 partner organisations.
• BirdLife International publishes a quarterly magazine, World Birdwatch, which contains recent news and authoritative articles about birds, their habitats, and their conservation around the world.
• It publishes the scientific journal Bird Conservation International.
• BirdLife International is the official Red List authority for birds, for the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
• Regional work: BirdLife International has conservation work programmes in the following parts of the world, which it describes as “regions” – Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Central Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific.
• Each BirdLife Partner is an independent environmental not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation or NGO. Most Partners are best known outside of the Partnership by their organisation’s name. This allows each Partner to maintain its individual national identity within the global Partnership.
• The BirdLife partnership has 6 Regional BirdLife Coordination Offices throughout the world and a Global Office in Cambridge, UK – together known as “The BirdLife International Secretariat”. The Secretariat co-ordinate and facilitate the BirdLife International strategies, programmes and policies.

Ganges River Dolphin


Ganges River Dolphin

The Gangetic River dolphin is primarily found in the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers and their tributaries in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. Ganga dolphins can live only in Fresh water. Gangetic Dolphins are blind and they also known as Susu and shushuk because of the sound it produces when breathing. Gangetic Dolphin has been recognised as the National Aquatic Animal by the Government of India.
The Ganges River dolphin, or susu, inhabits the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.
This dolphin is among the four “obligate” freshwater dolphins – the other three are the baiji -Yangtze river in China, bhulan-Indus in Pakistan and boto-Amazon River in Latin America.
They are generally found alone or in pairs, and occasionally in small groups.
It is listed on Appendix I of the CITES). It is protected under the Indian Wildlife Act. Listed by the IUCN as endangered on their Red List of Threatened Species
It is threatened by removal of river water and siltation arising from deforestation, pollution and entanglement in fisheries nets, alterations to the river due to barrages.
Being a mammal, the Ganges River dolphin cannot breathe in the water and must surface every 30-120 seconds. Because of the sound it produces when breathing, the animal is popularly referred to as the ‘Susu’.
WWF-India adopted Ganges River Dolphin as a species of special concern. A Ganges River Dolphin Conservation Programme was initiated in 1997 to build a scientific database of the population status of the species and study the habitat quality of the dolphins’ distribution range.
One of the distinguishing features of the Ganges river dolphins is their capacity to adapt to the changes that happen with the Ganges River. Specifically, the dolphins are known to migrate into different areas of the river when flood season is occurring.

Sai Praveen

Do You Like This??? Then Hit Subscribe Button. You Will Get Every Post, Which Is Worth Reading

You are Visitor number