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Biodiversity Types/Functions of Biodiversity

Biodiversity Functions of Biodiversity

Biodiversity Types

The word “biodiversity” is an abbreviated version of “biological diversity”.
The Convention on Biological Diversity defines biodiversity as: “the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part; this includes diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems.”
Thus, Biodiversity refers to the variety of forms – the different plants, animals and micro-organisms. It also includes the genes they contain and the ecosystem they form. It deals essentially with dyna­mic processes and increases when new genetic variation is produced and decreases on the loss of genetic variation or species extinction.
There are three distinct levels of bio-diversity though all of them are components of a much intricate web.
• Genetic Diversity:
a) It refers to variation of genes within species.
b) This variation can exist between different populations of the same species as well as between individuals within a population.
c) Genetic diversity provides organisms and ecosystems with capacity to recuperate after change has occurred.
d) Thus Genetic diversity is a level of biodiversity that refers to the total number of genetic characteristics in the genetic makeup of a species. It is distinguished from genetic variability, which describes the tendency of genetic characteristics to vary.
e) Genetic diversity plays a great role in the adaptability and survival of a species. A species that has a large degree of genetic diversity among its individuals will have more variations from which to choose the most fitting allele.
• Species Diversity:
a) Species diversity is a measure of the diversity within an ecological community that incorporates both species richness (the number of species in a community) and the evenness of species’ abundance.
b) Species diversity can be measured in terms of:
i. Species richness – refers to the number of various species in a defined area.
ii. Species abundance – refers to the relative numbers among species. For example, the number of species of plants, animals and microorganisms may be more in an area than that recorded in another area.
iii. Taxonomic or phylogenetic diversity – refers to the genetic relationships between different groups of species.
c) Species diversity is not evenly distributed across the globe. The overall richness of species is concentrated in equatorial regions and tends to decrease as one moves from equatorial to polar regions.
d) In addition, biodiversity in land ecosystems generally decreases with increasing altitude. The other factors that influence biodiversity are amount of rainfall and nutrient level in soil. In marine ecosystems, species richness tends to be much higher in continental shelves.
• Ecosystem Diversity:
a) It refers to the presence of different types of ecosystems. For instance, the tropical south India with rich species diversity will have altogether different structure compared to the desert ecosystem which has far less number of plant and animal species.
b) Likewise, the marine ecosystem although has many types of fishes, yet it differs from the freshwater ecosystem of rivers and lakes in terms of its characteristics. So such variations at ecosystem level are termed as ecosystem diversity.
• Functional Diversity:
a) Functional diversity refers to the diversity of ecological processes that maintain and are dependent upon the other components of diversity.
b) Functional diversity includes the many ecological interactions among species e.g. competition, predation, parasitism, mutualism, etc. as well as ecological processes such as nutrient retention and recycling.
c) It also includes the varying tempos and intensities of natural disturbances that many species and communities require if they are to persist.

Post-Mauryan Culture and Art

Post-Mauryan Culture and Art

Post-Mauryan Culture and Art

Contribution of Sungas
• The period saw a flowering of the visual arts, including small terracotta images, larger stone sculptures, and architectural monuments such as the chaitya hall at Bhaja, the stupa at Bharhut, and the renowned Great Stupa at Sanchi.
• Under Shunga patronage, the core of the Great Stupa, thought to date from the era of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka (273-232 B.C.), was enlarged to its present diameter of 120 feet, covered with a stone casing, topped with a balcony and umbrella, and encircled with a stone railing.
• Four famous gateways, each about thirty-five feet high, were carved during the first half of the first century A.D. Decorated with images of auspicious fertility spirits, known as yakshas and yakshis, the gateways also feature narratives depicting moments from the past lives and final existence of Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism.
• Motifs such as wheels, thrones, and footprints are used to symbolize the Buddha, who is not represented in human form until later.
Contribution of Satvahanas
• The Satavahanas patronized Buddhism and Brahmanism and built chaityas and viharas. They also made grants of villages and lands to Buddhist monks.
• Vashishtaputra Pulamayi repaired the old Amaravathi stupa.
• Their architecture in Nagarjunakonda was also notable.
• Brahmanism was revived by the Satavahanas along with the performance of asvamedha and rajasuya sacrifices.
Sculptural Art during Kushan Kings
Under the patronage of the Indo-Greek, Indo Scythian and Kushan kings emerged a distinct style of sculpture, popularly known as the Greco-Roman, Buddhist or Gandhara art and Mathura Art.
Gandhara Art
• It was a combination of Hellenistic, West Asiatic and native elements. Greek and Roman techniques, modified according to Indian requirements, were employed in fashioning the Gandhara sculpture which truly represents Indian culture in a Western garb.
• Its area extended from Takshila in India to the Swat Valley in Pakistan and northwards to areas in Afghanistan.
• The Gandhara sculptors made images of Lord Buddha in the Greco-Roman style. The images of Buddha resembled Greek God Apollo. It gave more stress to the bodily features and external beauty.
• In all the Buddha depicted in the Gandhara Art is shown making four types of hand gestures and this is a remarkable feature in this art. The gestures are as follows:
a) Abahayamudra : Don’t fear
b) Dhyanamudra : meditation
c) Dharmachakramudra: a preaching mudra
d) Bhumisparshamudra: Touching the earth.
Mathura Art
• Mathura School of art is purely indigenous style. Mathura art developed during post Maurya peiod (mainly during Shunga period) and reached its peak during the Gupta period (AD 325 to 600).
• The traditional centre, Mathura, remained the main art production site whereas Sarnathand Kosambi also emerged as important centres of art production. Spotted red sandstonehas been used in this school.
• Themes in the Mathura Art vary from Buddhist to Brahmanical to sometimes secular. More stress was given to the inner beauty and facial emotions rather than bodily gesture.
• Under the Mathura Art images of Vishnu and Shiva, Buddha, Yakshas, Yakshinis, Shaivite and Vaishnavite deities were found.
• In these sculptures, Buddha was depicted as Human and the main theme was Buddha and Bodhisattavas. Both sitting and standing posture of Buddha’s statues were carved out in the Mathura school.
• The art of Mathura also featured sexual imagery.
• The characteristics of the idol of the Buddha are:
(a) Buddha sitting under a Bodhi tree with right hand in Abhaya posture,
(b) Dharma Chakra and Triratna chiselled in palms and at the bottom of the feet, and
(c) Except for one lock, the entire head is shaven.
The Amravati School of Art
• The Amravati school of Art evolved during Satavahna period.
• This school of art developed at Amravati, on the banks of the Krishna River in modern Andhra Pradesh.
• This school of art had great influence on art in Sri Lanka and South-East Asia as products from here were carried to those countries.
• It is Completely indigenous in nature
• Lord Buddha is depicted in the form of `Swastika` mark. This has been carved out onthe cushioned seat over a throne that is situated under the Bodhi tree.
• They used white sandstone to construct the images.
• At a later stage the Amaravati School depicted Buddha in the human form.
• The figures of Amaravati have slim blithe features and are represented in difficult poses and curves.

Hydrofluoro Carbon

Hydrofluoro Carbon

Hydrofluorocarbons (hfcs) are a group of organic compounds that contain carbon, fluorine, and hydrogen. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are greenhouse gases (GHGs) commonly used in a wide variety of applications by federal agencies, including refrigeration, air conditioning, building insulation, fire extinguishing systems, and aerosols.
Once released into the atmosphere, HFCs decompose relatively quickly; for example, the atmospheric lifetime for HFC-134a is about 14 years. (CFCs, by comparison, can remain in the atmosphere for 100 years.) The breakdown of HFCs occurs in the troposphere (the lowest portion of the atmosphere), where they are split by reactions with hydroxyl radicals(?OH). Within the troposphere, the carbon-fluorine bonds in HFCs are highly effective at trapping solar radiation (specifically, infrared radiation) and redirecting that radiant energy toward Earth’s surface. This so-called positive radiative forcing effect contributes to global warming.
Steps taken to limit the potential impacts are:
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Kyoto Protocol, 1997) introduced measures designed to achieve reduction of greenhouse gas releases (including HFCs).
Amendment has been produced in the Kigali meet in Montreal Protocol. The amendment will allow the use of ozone-saving Montreal Protocol to phase-out HFCs, a set of 19 gases in the hydroflurocarbon family that are used extensively in the air-conditioning and refrigeration industry. HFCs are not ozone-depleting but are thousands of times more dangerous than carbon dioxide in causing global warming.
The phase-out scheduled under the amendment is estimated to avert 70 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions between 2020 and 2050. This is considered equivalent to shutting down more than 750 coal power plants, each of 500 MW capacity, or taking about 500 million cars off the road from now to 2050.

Blue Carbon

Blue Carbon

• Blue carbon is the carbon captured by the world’s oceans and coastal ecosystems. The carbon captured by living organisms in oceans is stored in the form of biomass and sediments from mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses.
• Blue carbon estimation in eastern costal area led to a conclusion that Sunderbans’ capacity to absorb carbon has gone down. It is due to the Increased salinity and Maldah river’s pollution.
• One of the most promising new ideas to reduce atmospheric CO2 and limit global climate change is to do so by conserving mangroves, seagrasses and salt marsh grasses. Such coastal vegetation, dubbed “blue carbon”, sequesters carbon far more effectively (up to 100 times faster) and more permanently than terrestrial forests.
• Carbon is stored in peat below coastal vegetation habitats as they accrete vertically. Because the sediment beneath these habitats is typically anoxic, organic carbon is not broken down and released by microbes. Coastal vegetation also continues to sequester carbon for thousands of years in contrast to forest, where soils can become carbon-saturated relatively quickly.
• Therefore, carbon offsets based on the protection and restoration of coastal vegetation could be far more cost effective than current approaches focused on trees. Furthermore, there would be enormous ad-on benefits to fisheries, tourism and in limiting coastal erosion from the conservation of blue carbon.

Green Climate Fund

Green Climate Fund

• The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was adopted as a financial mechanism of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the end of 2011 in CoP 16.
• The GCF is intended to support projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing country for combating climate change.
• The GCF finances activities to both enable and support adaptation, mitigation (including REDD+), technology development and transfer (including CCS), capacity-building and the preparation of national reports.
• The important distinction of GCF is that it has an independent legal status and personality and nationally designated authorities have a paramount role to play. This has been achieved after many rounds of different negotiations.
• The GCF follows a ‘country-driven approach’, which envisages effective involvement of various stakeholders at all levels and also enables the developing countries to evolve their climate policy keeping in consideration their immediate development priorities like poverty reduction and improving standards of living for a large proportion of their population. The effectiveness with which a country is able to tap the resources from the GCF and use them effectively is dependent on how well the country’s government and its various institutions have prepared themselves to access the Fund.
• India has moved forward in this regard by selecting the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change as India’s Nationally Designated Authority (NDA) for the GCF, which will recommend to the Board of the GCF funding proposals in the context of national climate strategies.
• Further NABARD has been accredited by Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board as one of the National Implementing Entity (NIE) for GCF in India.
• NABARD will be responsible for management and oversight of project implementation, which includes the origination and preparation of a funding proposal, the subsequent management of the necessary stages of the implementation process until its conclusion (project management) on behalf of GCF, and reporting obligations.
• It is based in South Korea and governed by a Board of 24 members and initially supported by a Secretariat.
• The World Bank serves as the interim trustee of the GCF, and the Fund functions under the guidance of and remains accountable to the UNFCCC Conference of Parties.
• The Fund will promote the paradigm shift towards low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways by providing support to developing countries to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change, taking into account the needs of those developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.


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