Updated review of amphibian diversity, distribution and conservation in Ethiopia
Ethiopia has a diverse amphibian fauna occurring in various ecosystems, from savanna to alpine highlands. Except for a taxonomic study on amphibians by Largen in 2001, little is known about the molecular systematics, evolution, population biology and conservation status of the different species. The Ethiopian Highlands are particularly important habitats as several endemic amphibian genera and species are restricted to these highly fragmented areas. For Ethiopia, five of the 24 genera, and 26 of the 64 known species are endemic. As is the case for amphibians worldwide, the survival of these species faces threats from habitat degradation, climate change, and a pathogenic fungal disease. Several factors might explain our low level of knowledge on Ethiopian amphibians; these are associated to culture and belief, education and training, and economic value. Taxonomic and biogeographic re-assessment and field surveys in unexplored areas is needed to understand the natural history and population status of Ethiopian amphibians. This paper tries to summarize existing knowledge on the amphibians of Ethiopia pertaining mainly to their taxonomy and systematics, a brief outline of the amphibian families of Ethiopia, geographic distribution and conservation. It discusses past and ongoing studies, existing gaps of knowledge, future needs in the area, and the application of phylogeography to resolve taxonomic complexities and outline the distribution patterns of some problematic groups.
Key words/phrases: Amphibian diversity, Biodiversity conservation, Ethiopian Highlands, Great Rift Valley, Phylogeography, Systematics.