Amphibian diversity is high in tropical forests, but due to lack of expertise, the amphibians of DR Congo remain poorly studied. Northeastern regions of the country have the highest diversity with estimates of up to 150 species. With such richness and so many areas yet to be explored, the need for amphibian conservation action is profound and urgent.
Despite an increased effort to survey amphibians along with other taxonomic groups in the region to understand the species richness, abundance, diversity and distribution, data mobilized in studies remains fragmented and not accessible in usable formats. This project addresses a need to compile historical and recent records, and engage in extensive surveys and monitoring to fill data gaps.
The project team aims to mobilize data to examine amphibian species richness and abundance in individual protected areas and for the country as a whole, while specifically identifying the distribution patterns of threatened amphibian species. Using the obtained data, the team will expore which local and landscape variables are related to observed species richness, abundance and differences in composition, and also perform species distribution modeling to estimate the impacts of climate change on relevant species.
Through the project, a dataset for amphibian species of Mambasa and the Ituri region has been digitised with work ongoing to publish adopting the skills learnt from a data enhancement workshop organised by GBIF in Cape Town last December. Additional data has been collected from partners involved in the project. A list of amphibians held in collections and their collection site is being compiled using both literature and datasets.
An assessment on data available from fieldwork carried out by the Centre de Surveillance de la Biodiversité (CSB) has additionally contributed to 2637 sample event records which will be handled by CBS technicians employed to enter the data. The project will continue to work with partners from three institutions who have confirmed their participation in the programme and are working to update and share their datasets.
During the project, the project managers has attended capacity building, data on amphibian biodiversity has been mobilized and publicated via the GBIF portal, and collaborations between various scientists from different institutions has strengthened. The project computerized the first database on amphibians in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has aired via the GBIF portal. The database includes data encoding and species occurrence data. This makes the information on amphibians in DR Congo visible so it can be used for several purposes as well as protected from any possible loss that may occur.
Apart from the above mentioned completed activities, several other activitivies were accomplished during the project; the Biodiversity Monitoring Centre became an authorized institution for the publication of data, 34 people participated in a national workshop on data mobilization and its use for decision-making was held in Kisangani, Democratic Repulic of the Congo in October 2018. Futhermore, the DRC Amphibian Checklist with a particular focus on species from northeastern DR Congo and the Kisangani region has been updated so it now has than 3500 encoded amphibian specimens. National and regional biodiversity information facilities has been established (amphibians meta-data and species survival group) during the project. ASHERCO (Association of Congolese Herpetologists) was also created during the project for the survival of amphibian species.