CAS IN THE GULF OF GUINEA
Located in the Bight of Benin, in the crook of the elbow of West Africa, four islands comprise the Gulf of Guinea Island chain. Created by volcanic processes over a period of 30 million years and separated by ocean depths reaching 4000m, the flora and fauna of Bioko, Príncipe, São Tomé, and Annobón had been barely studied for over a century. To explore these islands and the diversity of life they harbored, in 1998 PI Dr. Robert Drewes, Curator of Herpetology at CAS instigated the Gulf of Guinea Biodiversity Project. Dr. Drewes assembled a multidisciplinary team comprised of CAS biologists from 5 research departments: Herpetology, Entomology, Ichthyology, Invertebrate Zoology & Geology, and Ornithology & Mammalogy with the purpose of surveying and documenting the biological diversity of these islands.
Learn more about the people and institutions involved and our conservation actions in the Gulf of Guinea.
People and Institutions
The Gulf of Guinea Biodiversity Project is a collaborative project undertaken in cooperation with ECOFAC, the European Union’s Central Africa conservation program, and STeP UP, a community development NGO based in São Tomé. The valuable support of Theresa D’Espirey of ECOFAC and Ned Seligman of SteP UP was critical to the successful launch of the project. Several Gulf of Guinea Biodiversity Project team members met with the Minister of the Economy for the Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, the Hon. Maria das Neves Batista de Sousa, to discuss the project and its potential for the people of São Tomé.
The tall mountain peaks of each island and the wide ocean distances separating them create a landscape that is rich in species diversity and contains high levels of endemism. The CAS field team found eight foot tall begonias, giant African tree frogs and legless burrowing amphibians. Describing and classifying this biodiversity is the foundation for all further efforts, whether they be in education, management, nature tourism, or conservation. CAS scientists are identifying the animals they found and trying to understand their systematic relationships to one another and to their close relatives (e.g.
Drewes & Wilkinson 2004).
Read about new species described by CAS research in the Gulf of Guinea.