Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 365–380

Freshwater fish zoogeography in west Africa: faunal similarities between river basins

  • Bernard Hugueny
  • Christian Lévêque

DOI: 10.1007/BF00004806

Cite this article as:
Hugueny, B. & Lévêque, C. Environ Biol Fish (1994) 39: 365. doi:10.1007/BF00004806


Similarities between the freshwater fish faunas of 52 west African rivers have been investigated and three main zoogeographic regions recognized. The Sudanian region includes all rivers from Senegal to the Omo, as well as coastal basins from Ivory Coast to the Cross and the Wouri. The Upper Guinean region comprises the coastal basins from Guinea to Liberia and the Lower Guinean one, the coastal rivers of Cameroon and Gaboon. The Sudanian region can be sub-divided into a Sudanian region sensu stricto, including the Sahelo-Sudanese rivers, and the Eburneo-Ghanean region corresponding to coastal basins from the Cess (or Nipoué, Ivory Coast) to the Pra (Ghana). These delimitations give an highly significant within region faunal homogeneity, even if the effect of geographical proximity between rivers is removed. 21 to 71% of the fish species in each region are endemics. The present patterns of distribution are the result of past climatic and geological events affecting west Africa and, given this framework, the role of alternating wet and dry periods during the early Quarternary is emphasized as well as the importance of mountains as dispersal barriers. Role of recent river connections and links via lagoon is emphasized in explaining river faunal similarities within biogeographical regions.

Key words

African fish Geographical distribution Refuge zones Paleoenvironments Endemism West Africa 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernard Hugueny
    • 1
  • Christian Lévêque
    • 1
  1. 1.Antenne ORSTOMlaboratoire d'Ichtyologie, Muséum national d'Histoire naturelleParisFrance

Personalised recommendations