Distribution of Plants & Animals in South Asia

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  • 0:00 Climates of South Asia
  • 0:54 India, Sri Lanka & Bangladesh
  • 2:48 Pakistan & Afghanistan
  • 3:49 The Maldives
  • 5:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

After watching this video, you will be able to describe the plants and animals of South Asia and approximately how they are distributed. A short quiz will follow.

Climates of South Asia

Today, we're going to talk about the plants and animals of South Asia. But the first question we need to answer is: Just what IS South Asia? South Asia is the area usually considered to include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

The thing about plants and animals is that they have strong opinions about the weather. If you think people complain about the weather a lot at your local bus stop, you have no idea what plants and animals are like. This is because they only do well in certain climates. So, you find different plants and animals in one climate compared to another.

South Asia has six main climate types alone: equatorial, tropical savanna, humid subtropical, highland, semiarid, and desert. And this makes the plants and animals that live there quite varied.

Plants & Animals of India, Sri Lanka, & Bangladesh

India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh contain multiple climates, but the most common are equatorial and tropical savanna. Equatorial climates are found along India's West coast, Southern Sri Lanka, and Southern Bangladesh. Most of what remains is tropical savanna, with subtropical conditions in the north. These three climates collectively lead to a wide variety of plant and animal life.

The northern subtropical areas contain forests of spruce, fire, cedar, and sal; the latter is especially common near the Ganges flood plains. Tall grasses and bamboo can be found in the valleys around the Brahmaputra and Surma rivers. The equatorial areas, especially the West coast of India, are home to many tropical plants, including commercial crops of bananas, citrus, and coconuts. Southern plateaus contain palm trees.

Mammals of the area include elephants, rhinoceroses, bison, antelope, deer, and primates, including the rhesus monkey and hoolock gibbon. In the North, you'll find the famous Bengal tiger and Asiatic lion. If you head into the Himalayan mountains, conditions become colder and drier. There you find mountain goats, ibex, and snow leopards. There are also thousands of species of birds, including hawks, vultures, eagles, and peacocks, as well as hundreds of species of snakes, many of which are poisonous. Crocodiles are even found in many rivers. So, when farming fertile flood plains of the subtropics, you better keep an eye out!

Sri Lanka is also worth mentioning individually. While the climate is similar, being an island, plants and animals can become isolated for many years, and as a result, there are many species there that are found nowhere else. This includes species of primate, rodent, butterfly, bird, reptile, and fish. It really is a treasure trove of unique animals and plants.

Plants & Animals of Pakistan & Afghanistan

Western India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are extremely dry. There is a mix of semiarid and desert climates. When you approach the coasts of Pakistan, you find full desert, and the mountains of the Himalayas in North Pakistan and East Afghanistan contain highland climate. But pretty much everything in between is semiarid.

The Himalayan foothills and plains contain shrub forests and wild olive trees. There you might see brown bears, black bears, leopards, ibex, and various types of mountain goats and sheep. Further into the mountains, you find coniferous forests, whereas lower down, you get oaks, walnuts, maples, birches, and chestnuts. The economically important Indus River contains crocodiles and freshwater dolphins. Wildlife in the deserts is limited, but they do contain gazelles, foxes, lizards, snakes, deer, hares, and grey wolves, though all in relatively small numbers among the sparse vegetation.

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