Decline Of Vertebrates

GS 3 ENVIRONMENT- Bio-diversity: Impact of the loss of biodiversity


       Animals can be classified as either vertebrates or invertebrates.

Vertebrates are animals that have a backbone inside their body. (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.)Invertebrates don’t have a backbone. They either have a soft body(worms and jellyfish) or a hard outer casing covering their body(spiders and crabs.)

Living Planet Report 2020:

      Prepared by the World Wildlife Fund and Zoological Society of London.Based on the global dataset analysed between 1970 and 2016.

  • underlines how humanity’s increasing destruction of nature.
  • catastrophic impacts on wildlife populations and human health and all aspects of our lives.
  • report tracked almost 21,000 populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles.


  • states that the world is steadily losing its vertebrate population.
  • loss of vertebrate population:
    • highest in Caribbean and Latin America (94%)
    • Africa (65%)
    • Europe and central Asia(24%).
  • Asia Pacific region lost 45% of its vertebrate population in four-and-half decades
  • Global average is 68%

Impact on India:

  • lost over the last five decades:
    • 12%-wild mammals
    • 19%-amphibians
    • 3%birds 
  • Out of 1.02 lakh animal species,in India till December 2019, about 6,800 are vertebrates.
  • nearly 550 fall in critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable categories.
  • has been declining at a rate of about 60% in India(close to global average).

Factors for the decline:

  • Changes in land and sea use-habitat loss and degradation
    • Almost a third of Indian wetlands affected under:
      • combined pressure of urbanisation
      • agricultural activities
      • pollution.
    • creation of small population pockets of animals leads to
      • inbreeding
      • population’s viability.
    • 4% global land share, about 8% global biodiversityand around 16% global population-enormous human footprint affecting biodiversity.
    • ecological footprint per person to be less than 1.6% global hectares-gross footprint significantly high.
    • bio-capacity of approximately 0.45 gha/person- ‘bio-capacity debtor’ or an ‘ecologically deficit country’ with a 148 per cent more demand than supply on its natural resources.
  • Over exploitation of species.
  • Invasive species and disease.
  • Pollution(Habitat fragmentation and pollution, especially from pesticides and insecticides)
  • Climate Change.

(role of pollution and climate change was proportionately higher at 16%)

Way Forward

  • Bring some laws and guidelines to prevent this gross habitat fragmentation.
  • reduction of forest cover in critical animal habitats needs to be stopped.


      In the first six months of 2019, of the 240 proposals seeking diversion of forest land, 98.99 per cent of forest land considered for diversion was allowed to be put to non-forestry uses.      The WWF India factsheet also put up data to highlight how forest land has been diverted and has been affecting biodiversity.This is leading to fragmentation of the habitats and biodiversity loss.

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