The Guinean forests of West Africa are rich in species diversity of endemic plant and animal species. Today, it is already possible to protect the marked areas of forests from logging and intensive deforestation, but these are mainly national parks. Unfortunately, deforestation and landscape transformation are still taking place in many other places, with fatal consequences for many plant and animal species.
Researchers have confirmed that the richest species diversity of woody plants is found at the lowest altitudes. In particular, coastal forests have countless endemic tree species. Even more astonishing is the fact that Mount Cameroon National Park protects sites only at an altitude of 300 m above sea level and more. Coastal forests in lower positions are not included in the protected area at all. For example, the Bimbia Bonadikomba area without conservation status is approximately 20 km from the park and covers a variety of habitats, such as coastal forests.
So far, no one has directly compared these two localities in terms of species diversity, so scientists from the Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences decided to determine the basic question of whether the number of species of birds and butterflies that eat fruit increases with the higher number of tree species in this area.
Different sites Bimbia Bonadikomba 30 m above sea level, Bamboo Camp up to 350 m above sea level and Drinking Gari up to 650 m above sea level were used to compare and determine species diversity. While Bamboo Camp and Drinking Gari are located within the park protected area complex, Bimbia Bonadikomba is situated on the coast and is separated from the national park by about 20 km of unforested areas.
So, what about the diversity of species?
As expected, the richest representation of tree species is in the Bimbia Bonadikomba locality. However, in other parameters, Bimbia Bonadikomba was the poorest, which corresponds to the scientists' hypothesis that the species diversity of the occurring tree species does not necessarily mean a higher number of species of birds and butterflies.
One of the main goals was to show that there are many endemic species in Bimbia Bonadikomba and that such a habitat needs to be provided with protection from the interference of human civilization. In this area of ??3,735 ha we can see a total of 190 species of trees, 116 species of birds and 120 species of butterflies, of which 96 species of trees, birds and butterflies are unique to Bimbia Bonadikomba
96 endemic species at risk!
During their own research work, scientists met several times with logging in places that were declared non-intervention areas. Almost immediately after data collection, some areas were logged, and further mining continues. Due to the fact that Bimbia Bonadikomba is the last major coastal forest in the area, endemic species, which are found here and are not present in the protected complex Bamboo Camp and Drinking Gari, are likely to become extinct due to logging. The results of our scientists' research could contribute to the decision of the Bimbia Bonadikomba area to be better protected and prevent the extinction of other plant and animal species by human hands.
Ferenc M, Sedlacek O, Tropek R, et al. Something is missing at the bottom: Importance of coastal rainforests for conservation of trees, birds and butterflies in the Mount Cameroon area. Afr J Ecol. 2018; 56: 679–683. https://doi.org/10.1111/aje.12506
Edited by: Daniel Švrčula