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Comparative avian phylogeography of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea mountains: implications for conservation

Authors

  • T. B. Smith,

    Corresponding author
    1. Center for Tropical Research and Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco CA 94132, USA,
    2. Center for Population Biology, University of California at Davis, Davis CA 95616, USA
      Thomas B. Smith, Department of Biology, 1600 Holloway Ave., San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA Fax: +415 405–0421; E-mail: tsmith@sfsu.edu
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  • K. Holder,

    1. Center for Tropical Research and Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco CA 94132, USA,
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  • D. Girman,

    1. Center for Tropical Research and Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco CA 94132, USA,
    2. Department of Biology, Sonoma State University, Sonoma CA 94928, USA,
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  • K. O’Keefe,

    1. Center for Tropical Research and Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco CA 94132, USA,
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  • B. Larison,

    1. Center for Tropical Research and Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco CA 94132, USA,
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  • Y. Chan

    1. Center for Tropical Research and Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco CA 94132, USA,
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Thomas B. Smith, Department of Biology, 1600 Holloway Ave., San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA Fax: +415 405–0421; E-mail: tsmith@sfsu.edu

Abstract

We illustrate the use of Faith’s ‘Phylogenetic Diversity’ measure to compare the phylogeographic structure of two bird species with patterns of avian endemism across six mountains in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. The Mountain Greenbul and Cameroon Blue-headed Sunbird showed phylogeographic patterns that together defined three biogeographic regions: Bioko, Mt. Cameroon, and the northern mountains of Cameroon. In contrast, the distributions of endemic species were largely a function of geographical distance, with close mountains sharing more endemic species than distant mountains. Moreover, for both species, populations on Mt. Cameroon were distinctive with respect to the ecologically relevant character bill size. Our results, while preliminary, illustrate the utility of a comparative approach for identifying geographical regions that harbour evolutionarily distinct populations and caution against using only the distributional patterns of endemics to prioritize regions for conservation. Results show that patterns of endemism may not be concordant with patterns of phylogenetic diversity nor morphological variation in a character important in fitness. While incorporation of additional species from unrelated taxa will be necessary to draw definitive conclusions about evolutionarily distinct regions, our preliminary results suggest a conservation approach for the Afromontane region of the Gulf of Guinea that would: (i) emphasize protection of both Bioko and Mt. Cameroon, thereby maximizing preservation of within–species phylogenetic and morphologic diversity; (ii) emphasize protection within the northern mountains to further conserve intraspecific phylogenetic diversity and maximize protection of endemic species.

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