GUWAHATI, May 5 – It has been speculated for long but now experts have confirmed it with substantive evidence. The diversity of birdlife in the Himalayan region is among the richest in the world.
Prof Trevor Price, one the most respected scientists studying evolution of birds, has stated: “Taxonomic diversity of Himalayan avifauna stands at second position, just after the Andes”.
Prof Price of the Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, said this while delivering a lecture on ‘Himalayan Birds: Why There are so Many Species in North-east?’ The lecture at Cotton College was organised by Zoology Department of the college, NGO Aaranyak, and the Zoological Society of Assam.
During his talk, he spoke about the origin of the Himalayas and discussed the fifth mass extinction. He acknowledged that the Himalayas, especially in the north-eastern region of India, have mostly remained unexplored, and needs more scientific scrutiny.
Prof Price and his team believe that after the recent glaciation event, some of the bird species of eastern Himalayas could never re-colonise in the west, thus creating the current pattern of the difference in number of breeding bird species in the region.
They are also seeking to learn why there is as many as twice the number of breeding birds in eastern Himalayas than the western Himalayas. For this, he has been undertaking field work in areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal and Uttarakhand in the west and Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the east.
The senior scientist is using molecular genetic tools in reconstructing the evolutionary patterns of more than 400 breeding birds in the Himalayas.
Aaranyak, a society for bio-diversity conservation, is partnering the work and Udayan Borthakur of the NGO has contributed to the molecular genetic analysis of museum samples of birds in USA.