Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 19, Issue 7, pp 1883–1903 | Cite as

Angola’s central scarp forests: patterns of bird diversity and conservation threats

  • Michael S. L. Mills
Original Paper


Despite Angola’s central scarp forests being recognised as a critical global priority for bird conservation, fine-scale information on threatened bird distributions and patterns of bird diversity are lacking. These data are essential to identify sites within the Western Angola Endemic Bird Area that should be targeted for conservation. First endemic and near-endemic species and subspecies, and species with isolated populations along the Angolan scarp were identified to highlight taxa of greatest priority for conservation and for use in studying the evolutionary origins of the region. Thereafter survey data collected during 2005 from 13 forest sites along the central scarp was analysed. These data show that there are three distinct bird communities across the width of the escarpment, each associated with a distinctive forest type. Of note is the finding that threatened and Near Threatened endemic species occur almost exclusively in the dry forests adjacent to the main escarpment, rather than in the moistest forests found on the main escarpment, which instead are richer in Congo Basin forest birds. Based on these data, summaries of ranges, populations and conservation threats are given for the seven most threatened bird species. Attention is drawn to threats to the habitats of greatest importance to these species. A conservation area network should be established that encompasses the full spectrum of bird diversity described, to ensure survival of current unique taxa and the future evolutionary potential of the area.


Angolan scarp forests Bird communities Distributions of threatened species Endemic bird taxa Threats to forests 



My greatest thanks to Pedro vaz Pinto, for sharing information and ideas on Angola’s birds and in many ways leading the way with his explorations, and for his continued enthusiasm for Angolan conservation. Logistical and financial support for the 2005 field visit was provided by Conservation International’s Species Fund (thanks to Michael Hoffman and Olivier Langrand) and Gus, Margie and Sybil Mills. Thanks to Henk and Diane Burger of Wings Over Africa and Callan Cohen of Birding Africa for assisting with logistical arrangements. I am grateful to Vladimir Russo of the UNDP in Angola, Brian Huntley (previously from the South African National Biodiversity Institute), Fernanda Lages of ISCED and the staff responsible for maintaining the collection of bird skins in Lubango for their assistance and for allowing access to the collection. Martim Melo kindly assisted with statistical analyses, and he and Fabio Olmos commented on a draft of the manuscript which greatly improved it. Two anonymous referees provided thorough reviews of this manuscript that greatly helped improve its contents.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.A. P. Leventis Ornithological Research InstituteUniversity of JosJosNigeria
  2. 2.Percy FitzPatrick Institute, DST/NRF Centre of ExcellenceUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa
  3. 3.Birding AfricaClaremont, Cape TownSouth Africa
  4. 4.Rhodesgift, Cape TownSouth Africa

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