The avifauna of the Gulf of Guinea Oceanic Islands

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  • Nov, 2022

Melo, M., Jones, P. & de Lima, R.F. (2022) The avifauna of the Gulf of Guinea Oceanic Islands. 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_21.


Although birds have always been one of the best-known taxa on the Gulf of Guinea oceanic islands, our understanding of their ecology and evolution has increased substantially in the last two decades. Intensive field-based surveys have allowed the first detailed island-wide distribution maps for most species and a much better grasp of habitat associations, highlighting the importance of native forests for many of the endemic birds. Molecular data have provided important insights into evolutionary history, leading to an extensive revision of the taxonomy of the islands’ endemic avifauna. Most speciation events are much more recent than the age of the islands, indicating a high species turn-over that is likely explained by the islands’ history of intense volcanic activity and their moderate distances to the mainland. These islands have the highest accumulation of endemic bird species for small oceanic islands: at least 29 endemic species occur in three islands with a total area of just over 1000 km2. This may be explained by their particular geographic location: offshore from a species-rich continent at distances that allowed the colonization and evolution in isolation of many distinct lineages. All these contributions are now being used to ensure bird conservation, through updated species conservation status and species action plans for the most threatened species, and also to promote the conservation of the native forests on which most of the endemic birds depend.


  • The avifauna of the Gulf of Guinea Oceanic Islands Ricardo Faustino de Lima Bats and Birds in Natural and Semi-Natural Ecosystems