`Alien plant species affecting Antarctica biodiversity’

March 5th, 2008 - 12:38 am ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 4 (IANS) Scientists from across the world, including India, have found a few alien plant species in Antarctica. They are affecting the biodiversity of the ice continent, Minister for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal said Tuesday. “Some species of lower plant forms, not native to Antarctica, have been found. For example, a species of European grass, a carnivorous beetle species, Poa annua (a seed plant) and Australian pollen taxa have been reported as alien species in Antarctica,” Sibal informed the Lok Sabha.

He said a total of 439 species of lichens, 111 species of mosses, four species of mites, seven species of tardigrads have so far been reported from Antarctic region.

The data and research undertaken by different countries on alien species are shared under the aegis of Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR).

“According to published reports and data available, many of these alien species have been responsible for significantly decreasing biodiversity at the sites and indirectly causing a change in adult body size in population of its major prey species,” the minister added.

Sub-Antarctic islands like Marion Island and South Georgia Island are getting warmer in recent decades. They are increasingly favourable sites for alien species to colonise and spread.

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