Beyond just species: Is Africa the most taxonomically diverse bird continent?

Authors

  • Chris N. Lotz PO Box 215, Newlands 7725, South Africa
  • John A. Caddick 30 White Oak Drive, Beckenham BR3 6QE, UK
  • Monika Forner Department of Botany & Zoology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Michael I. Cherry 1. Department of Botany & Zoology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa 2. DST Centre of Excellence at the Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1590/sajs.2013/20120002

Keywords:

systematics, avian diversity, species, genus, conservation

Abstract

We analysed avian diversity in 8 similar-sized regions of Africa, and in an additional 16 regions spread across the world; half of these 24 regions were tropical and the other half were temperate. For each region, counts of species, genus, family and order were recorded rather than only a species count. We assert that this approach gives more accurate insights into diversity patterns, as we show that in relatively species-rich parts of the world species are on average taxonomically more similar to each other than in species-poor areas. Northwestern South America is the world’s most species-rich region for birds, but we show that sub-Saharan Africa has greater diversity at higher taxonomic levels and is thus arguably the richest corner of the world for birds: the Mozambique–Zimbabwe region displays the highest diversity at the order level (with 30 orders), with all other sub-Saharan regions having between 27 and 29 orders each. Northern India is also extremely diverse (surprisingly so for a marginally temperate region) at all taxonomic levels below that of order. We hope that our study might generate further analyses of avian diversity beyond the species level.

Published

2013-05-20

How to Cite

Lotz, C. N., Caddick, J. A., Forner, M., & Cherry, M. I. (2013). Beyond just species: Is Africa the most taxonomically diverse bird continent?. South African Journal of Science, 109(5/6), 4. https://doi.org/10.1590/sajs.2013/20120002

Issue

Section

Research Letter