Avian endemism in northeastern tropical Africa

Fjeldsa, Jon ; De Klerk, Helen (2001)

Proceedings of the Third International Symposium on the Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea at the Carlsberg Academy, Copenhagen, August 25-27, 1999.


The avian endemism of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa was analyzed using a database where all bird distributions in Africa south of the Sahara are recorded in a one-degree grid. Applying a hierarchical classification algorithm, the tropical northeastern Subregion of Africa stands out clearly and can be subdivided in all Ethiopian Highlands Province and the Somalia-Masai. Tana-Jubba and Turkana districts and a Danakil Province. The Horn of Africa Province is associated with the Northern Arid (Sahara) Subregion in this hierarchical classification, although this reflects the replacement of savanna with desert birds more than shared endemism. Although most of the Ethiopian Highland endemics are distributed all over the highland, a more complex pattern of local endemics can also be defined, using a complementarity algorithm. Local endemism is very pronounced among the larks, Alaudidae. The majority of endemics belongs to recently radiated groups, and is mainly related to the fauna of East Africa; however, the fauna of the Sidamo district contains relict elements, two of these of a significant evolutionary age. The pattern of endemism in the birds of northeastern tropical Africa has a number of features in common with patterns found in plants.

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