Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 1103–1118

Amphibian Diversity in East African Biodiversity Hotspots: Altitudinal and latitudinal Patterns

  • J. C. Poynton
  • S. P. Loader
  • E. Sherratt
  • B. T. Clarke
ORIGINAL PAPER

Abstract

The Eastern Arc mountain chain and adjoining coastal forests of Tanzania and Kenya have been listed as world biodiversity hotspots. We report on an ongoing attempt to estimate amphibian diversity on the three best studied mountains of the Eastern Arc, the East Usambara, Uluguru and Udzungwa mountains of Tanzania, complemented by an estimate of diversity on the adjoining coastal lowland. This proves to be a complex task, which introduces a note of caution into evaluating global biodiversity estimates. Most amphibian species in eastern Tanzania occur on the coastal lowlands and are widely distributed, extending at least north or south of Tanzania and, to a variable extent, westwards to the elevated interior. Diversity patterns along the length of the lowlands are complex, with the presence of a Sahelian element in the extreme north. On the three Eastern Arc mountains studied, species turnover associated with rising altitude is greater than turnover associated with latitudinal distance between the mountain blocks, leading to greater altitudinal than latitudinal diversity in this equatorial region. A long-standing divergence is indicated between montane and lowland endemics. Although forest-associated species are not the largest contributor to the eastern Tanzanian total species diversity (some 48%), the uniqueness of these species both in lowland and montane forests, combined with their evident vulnerability to disturbance, makes them a subject for particular conservation concern, and justifies hotspot status for both montane and lowland forests.

Keywords

Amphibia East Africa Eastern Arc mountains Tanzania Diversity Altitudinal and latitudinal species turnover Hotspot 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. C. Poynton
    • 1
  • S. P. Loader
    • 1
  • E. Sherratt
    • 1
  • B. T. Clarke
    • 1
  1. 1.The Natural History MuseumLondonUK

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