Photos from the Field: Priorities for Future Research & Education in the Congo Basin & Gulf of Guinea
Anthony, N. M., Atteke, C., Bruford, M. W., Dallmeier, F., Freedman, A., Hardy, O., Ibrahim, B., Jeffery, K. J., Johnson, M., Lahm, S. A., Lepengue, N., Lowenstein, J. H., Maisels, F., Mboumba, J.-F., Mickala, P., Morgan, K., Ntie, S., Smith, T. B., Sullivan, J. P., Verheyen, E. and Gonder, M. K. (2015), Evolution and Conservation of Central African Biodiversity: Priorities for Future Research and Education in the Congo Basin and Gulf of Guinea. Biotropica, 47: 6–17. doi: 10.1111/btp.12188
The tropical forests of the Congo Basin and Gulf of Guinea harbor some of the greatest terrestrial and aquatic biological diversity in the world. However, our knowledge of the rich biological diversity of this region and the evolutionary processes that have shaped it remains limited, as is our understanding of the capacity for species to adapt or otherwise respond to current and projected environmental change. In this regard, research efforts are needed to increase current scientific knowledge of this region’s biodiversity, identify the drivers of past diversification, evaluate the potential for species to adapt to environmental change and identify key populations for future conservation. Moreover, when evolutionary research is combined with ongoing environmental monitoring efforts, it can also provide an important set of tools for assessing and mitigating the impacts of development activities. Building on a set of recommendations developed at an international workshop held in Gabon in 2011, we highlight major areas for future evolutionary research that could be directly tied to conservation priorities for the region. These research priorities are centered around five disciplinary themes: (1) documenting and discovering biodiversity; (2) identifying drivers of evolutionary diversification; (3) monitoring environmental change; (4) understanding community and ecosystem level processes; (5) investigating the ecology and epidemiology of disease from an evolutionary perspective (evolutionary epidemiology). Furthermore, we also provide an overview of the needs and priorities for biodiversity education and training in Central Africa.