HUMBOLDT’S ENIGMA Syllabus GS Paper 3 – Env and Eco)

News-CRUX-10     30th January 2024        
Samadhaan

Context: Explorers and naturalists have been asking this question for centuries. Many have also been curious as to why some areas are more biodiverse than others.

oOne of them was Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) – a polymath who recorded observations on various natural phenomena across the fields known today as geography, geology, meteorology, and biology.


Humboldt’s enigma

  • Proposed by: Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) – a polymath who recorded observations on various natural phenomena across the fields known today as geography, geology, meteorology, and biology.
  • About: It proposed that there is a relationship between temperature, altitude, and humidity on one hand and the occurrence patterns of species – or their biodiversity – on the other. 

oEx: Mountains, like the eastern Himalayas.

  • Biodiversity in mountain region: Mountains host two processes that generate biodiversity.

oFirst: geological processes, like uplifts, result in new habitats where new species arise, so the habitats are ‘cradles’.

oSecond: species on some climatologically stable mountains persist there for a long time, so these spots are ‘museums’ that accumulate many such species over time.

  • Biodiversity in India: The tropical areas south of the Tropic of Cancer, including Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, are considered India's most diverse.

oThe Western Ghats plus Sri Lanka biodiversity hotspot lies within this zone, showcasing high biodiversity.

  • Coastal Tropical Sky Islands: The Shola Sky Islands in the Western Ghats, exemplify biodiversity hotspots.

oOld lineages persist on mountaintops, showcasing the impact of stable climates and fluctuating habitats in lower elevations.

  • Eastern Himalaya Biodiversity Drivers: Climate dissimilarity is a crucial factor in driving biodiversity in the eastern Himalaya.
Samadhaan