[Taxacom] Ethiopian versus Afrotropical

Fabian Haas fhaas at icipe.org
Thu Aug 14 04:13:11 CDT 2008

Being in Africa, just south of Ethiopa, in Kenya, I do agree with 
Jacque, that the only reason for avoiding Ethiopian in this meaning is 
the possible confusing with the state of Ethiopia. No connotations and 
preferences apart from that.

To my recollection all colleagues (no matter where they come from) here 
at icipe use Afrotropical and sub-Saharan instead of Ethiopian when 
refering to this large region. Ethiopian is only use when refering to 
the country.


JOCQUE Rudy wrote:
> "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
> ____________________________________
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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


FabianHaas2 at gmx.net, fhaas at icipe.org, Extension -2052

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Dr. Fabian Haas
ICIPE - African Insect Science for Food and Health
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