Patterns of species richness and narrow endemism of terrestrial bird species in the Afrotropical region

De Klerk, Helen Margaret ; Crowe, Tim M. ; Fjeldsa, Jon ; Burgess, Neil D. (2002)

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Geographical patterns and peaks of species richness and narrow endemism (defined by rangerestrictedness and range-size rarity) are described for terrestrial Afrotropical birds and subsets thereof based on residency, endemism, and taxonomy. Species richness for residents and Afrotropical endemics (species globally restricted to sub-Saharan Africa) peaks along the mountains and adjacent lowlands of eastern and southern Africa. Isolated mountains in central and western Africa and the lowlands of the north-eastern Congo Basin (Ituri) are highlighted to a lesser degree. Peaks of narrow endemism occur in these areas as well as in the Ethiopian Highlands (particularly for non-passerines), Somalia (particularly for passerines), and the Angolan Escarpment. Within residents, patterns of species richness vary greatly between Afrotropical endemics (which concentrate in forests on mountains and adjacent lowlands, and the southern Brachystegia woodlands) and non-endemic residents (which concentrate in Sudanian woodlands and the Ethiopian Highlands). Patterns of species richness of residents (species that breed in the Afrotropics) and non-breeding migrants (non-breeding visitors to the Afrotropics) also show notable differences. The latter concentrate in areas close to the Palaearctic, which forms their distributional range centres. Patterns of species richness and narrow endemism for Afrotropical endemics show broad-scale coincidence within mountains or mountain-lowland complexes, particularly the Cameroon-Bamenda Highland system, East African rift system and Eastern Arc mountains. However, fine-scale coincidence of peaks of species richness and narrow endemism within these complexes is low. Narrow endemism peaks occur in areas of topographical complexity, which may have conferred localized climatic stability over short-, medium-, and long-term climatic cycles (sensu Fjeldsa , 1994; Fjeldsa et al., 1997), allowing these areas to act as `species pumps'. Species accumulate in areas of high productivity. Lack of fine-scale coincidence of narrow endemism and species richness peaks have implications for conservation prioritization exercises.

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