Frogs and fishes under threat in Kerala
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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Close to a third of amphibians and ten per cent of the fishes in Kerala are threatened. Besides, a large numbers of marine fishes and recently described freshwater fishes and amphibians are yet to be assessed for their conservation status.

This called for greater attention to conservation of those poorly known and often ignored groups, says a checklist of the vertebrates of Kerala published by P.O. Nameer (College of Forestry, Kerala Agricultural University) and others in Journal of Threatened Taxa recently.

Of 1,847 vertebrates of Kerala, 205 (approximately 11%) species are listed as threatened in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species of which 23 are Critically Endangered, 90 are Endangered and 92 are Vulnerable. About 101 species of vertebrates are Data Deficient. These, the monograph says, should be accorded high priority with respect to future research and monitoring as many of them are likely to be eligible for listing under various threatened categories once more information becomes available.

A total of 642 species of vertebrates have not been assessed for their conservation status (Not Evaluated), majority of which are fishes (556 species, 86.60%), followed by amphibians (43 species) and reptiles (40 species).

Three-hundred-and-eighty-six species (36%) of vertebrates of Kerala are endemic to the Western Ghats and Kerala. Of them, 104 of are found only in Kerala. Endemism is greatest among amphibians (90%) followed by freshwater fishes (69%). As much as 30 per cent of the freshwater fishes and 24 per cent of amphibians in the State are not known to occur elsewhere. Fifteen percent of all mammals of Kerala are endemic to the Western Ghats. The only mammal that is endemic to Kerala is Ranjini’s Rat Rattus ranjiniae.

The level of endemism is the lowest among birds with only four percent endemic to the Western Ghats and none to Kerala.

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