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Journal Boosts Biodiversity Knowledge

November 2005

Last month, the long-running Journal of East African Natural History published the first of four double-sized special editions that focus on research and conservation work in the Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests of Tanzania and Kenya.

The first edition includes groundbreaking papers documenting new species such as Toussaintia patriciae, a flowering bush or climbing tree known only from two collections in the Udzungwa Mountains National Park and one collection in the Ndundulu Forest Reserve, both in the southern end of the Eastern Arc range.

Another paper argues the case to raise a subspecies of the spectacular Udzungwa Forest partridge (Xenoperdix udzungwensis) to full species status. There is also an exhaustive plant checklist of the Shimba Hills in coastal Kenya that documents nearly 1,300 species, 21 percent of Kenya’s flora.

There is still much to be learned about biodiversity in the region, and the lack of basic biodiversity data has been identified as one of the major obstacles to developing effective strategies for conservation in this highly threatened area.

The Journal, funded in part by a new grant from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), focuses on documenting the area’s fauna and flora to counter this problem and improve biological knowledge in the region, so that all stakeholders can make more effective conservation decisions in the future.

“We hope that our broad view in accommodating natural history as a whole will help researchers studying the various fields,” explained Benny Bytebier, the Journal’s editor. “In turn this will hopefully lead to a more holistic, and thus realistic, conservation approach.”

Contributing to improved biological knowledge of Eastern Africa as a whole is a key CEPF strategy for the region, and the Journal will be a natural home for many of the research findings from biological surveys and the site- or species-specific studies being funded by CEPF throughout Tanzania and Kenya.

The grant will improve access to both current and historical information on the biota, the ecological and evolutionary processes, and the impact of conservation activities in the region.

Some abstracts of recently published articles can already be seen at the Journal's Web site. The Journal’s extensive archive, stretching back to the first edition in 1910, will gradually be available online over the next three years.

Three further special editions will be published and widely distributed over the next three years, complementing the Journal’s regular issues. Contributors wishing to publish should make submissions by September 1st of each year.

For more information, contact: Editor-in-chief Benny Bytebier, .

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© Journal of East African Natural History

© J. Watkin, CI
The Endangered Sanje mangabey (Cercocebus sanjei) is endemic to the Udzungwa Mountains National Park, Tanzania.

The East African region has two distinct habitats - the Coastal Forests and the Eastern Arc Mountains. Together, they are home to 333 globally threatened species.

Visit the News & Feature Archive for this region.

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