The montane forest associated amphibian species of the Taita Hills, Kenya
The group of forested mountains known as the Taita Hills are the northern-most montane blocks of the Eastern Arc Mountains, a globally recognized biodiversity hotspot. They are surrounded by the dry Tsavo plains. Until the present study no comprehensive survey of the amphibian fauna of Taita Hills covering the entire altitudinal gradient had been conducted. In this study details on the distribution and life history of amphibians associated with montane forest are provided. The biodiversity importance of the Taita Hills lies with the number of endemics per unit of area of remaining forest, which is one of the highest among the Eastern Arc Mountains. Presented herein are data for these endemics and other amphibian species associated with montane forest based on our field surveys from 2005 to 2007. In addition we have included published data and those from previous collections housed at the National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi. The results indicate that the majority of the twenty-six amphibians species recorded from the Taita Hills are those of the widespread East African lowland fauna. Only six are those associated with montane forest, including three threatened endemics. Concern is raised for the protection of this endemic amphibian fauna associated with montane forest because of ongoing habitat degradation.
Keywords: Eastern Arc Mountains, Gymnophiona, distribution, Anura, life history