[Taxacom] Ethiopian versus Afrotropical

JOCQUE Rudy rudy.jocque at africamuseum.be
Thu Aug 14 03:44:32 CDT 2008

"Afrotropical" is indeed synonym of "Ethiopian" in the large biogeographical sense. The former was adopted in analogy with names as Palaearctic, Nearctic, Neotropical. I never heard the idea that "Ethiopian" was left because of bad connotations. It is simply because Ethiopian could lead to confusion as it could mean "restricted to Ethiopia" referring to the political entity, or "restricted to the tropical area of Africa". 
That is why we gave our journal the name "Journal of Afrotropical Zoology" and not Journal of Ethiopian Zoology. I spoke with zoologists from that country about the matter and they certainly were in favor of our decision! 

Herewith part of the editorial in the first issue. 

The Journal of Afrotropical Zoology is obviously devoted to the biology of animals living in the tropical part of Africa, including the islands with that climatic regime but excluding the area north of the Sahara. Although the divide between the Afrotropical and the Palaearctic realms is not clear-cut, it is common knowledge that it lies somewhere near the Tropic of Cancer (23°30'N), although some of the mountain areas south of it may contain Palaearctic elements and vice versa for more northern ranges. To the south, the entirety of Africa is included, although the southern tip of the continent is known to have a temperate climate. However, there is no clear zoological boundary between tropical and southern temperate and it is generally accepted that the Afrotropical realm includes all of South Africa.

Head of Invertebrates non-insects section
Royal Museum for Central Africa
Department of African Zoology
Leuvensesteenweg 13
3080 Tervuren, Belgium
Tel.: +32 2 769 54 10 Fax : +32 2 769 56 95
A peer reviewed journal on Africa's fauna
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-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of John D. Oswald
Sent: mercredi 13 août 2008 17:36
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: [Taxacom] Ethiopian versus Afrotropical

Can anyone provide commentary on the appropriateness, preference, and/or 
subtleties involved in using the term Ethiopian, versus Afrotropical, in 
referring to the biogeographic faunal region that generally encompasses 
sub-Saharan Africa and parts of the southern/southeastern Arabian 
peninsula? Is usage here largely determined by the historical usage 
found in the literature of different taxa? Does this usage vary 
appreciably based on where one works (e.g., do biologists in Africa tend 
to use one term, while biologists in other areas of the world tend to 
use the other)? Which is the 'better' term, and why? Are there 
substantive reasons for using one term over the other? Are the terms 
considered synonymous in general usage, or are there important 
subtleties of meaning implicit in each? Is there a concise discussion of 
these issues in the literature somewhere (citations please...)?

John Oswald


John D. Oswald
Associate Professor
Department of Entomology
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX  77843-2475

E-mail: j-oswald at tamu.edu
Phone: (979) 862-3507
More at: http://insects.tamu.edu/people/faculty/oswaldj.cfm

Lacewing Digital Library: http://lacewing.tamu.edu/
Neuropterida Species of the World: http://lacewing.tamu.edu/Species-Catalogue/index.html
Bibliography of the Neuropterida: http://entowww.tamu.edu/research/neuropterida/neur_bibliography/botn_search.html

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