Molluscan Biodiversity in East African Forests

Amongst global biodiversity hotspots, tropical mountain forests are one of the most important systems. In Africa, the Eastern Arc Region and the West African Guinea forests, together with the Madagascan forests represent three of the 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world. Terrestrial mollusc diversity is recognized to be high in eastern, central and southern Africa, with over 2000 documented species and many other nominal taxa that remain to be described. In East Africa, about 83% of the land snail fauna is believed to be restricted to forest habitats. Since forest habitat currently covers only about 2-3% of the land area in East Africa, and is under severe human pressure, this undoubtedly represents a conservation concern.

Our collections are rich in material collected during colonial period from 1880 to 1940. Hence in 1996, with the assistance of funding from the UK government's Darwin Initiative, we started a project with partners in National Museums of Kenya and National Museums of Tanzania. Since 1996, together we have surveyed the land snail fauna in over 45 different forests in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and for comparison, forests in South Africa. In addition to providing training in survey methodologies, species identification and collection curation, we also have set-up a database of species names for the region.

Current projects are as follows: