Soares, F.C., Hancock, J.M., Palmeirim, J.M., Maia, H.A., Stévart, T. & de Lima, R.F. (2022) Species ecology in the Gulf of Guinea Oceanic Islands: distribution, habitat preferences, assemblages, and interactions. Biodiversity of the Gulf of Guinea Oceanic Islands. Science and Conservation (ed. by Ceríaco, L.M.P., de Lima, R.F., Melo, M. and Bell, R.C.). Springer. DOI:10.1007/978-3-031-06153-0_7.
The oceanic islands of the Gulf of Guinea (Príncipe, São Tomé, and Annobón) are an exceptional centre of endemism for flora and fauna. Remarkable progress has been made in biological research during the last few decades: from species being described and reported for the first time, to general patterns of species-habitat associations found across terrestrial, coastal, and marine taxa. Despite this increase in knowledge, key aspects of Gulf of Guinea species ecology remain poorly understood. This chapter reviews existing knowledge on the biodiversity of the islands, focusing on species distributions, population abundance estimates, traits, habitat associations and interactions. To promote these islands as ecological models, and to ensure the future of their endemic-rich biodiversity, it is essential to overcome current knowledge gaps and reduce existing taxonomic, spatial, and temporal biases in the information available. Therefore, future studies should favour systematic island-wide surveys and prioritize understudied areas and taxonomic groups. Moreover, long-term monitoring studies are urgently needed to assess biodiversity trends and to advise conservation actions. The future of ecological research and conservation of the unique biodiversity of these islands must increasingly rely on the development of local biodiversity-focused scientific expertise, through outreach, capacity building, and advanced training, paired with international collaborations and the development of local organizations.