Caribbean bioregion

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The Caribbean bioregion is a biogeographic region that includes the islands of the Caribbean Sea, which share a flora and fauna distinct from surrounding bioregions.

The Caribbean bioregion, as described by the World Wildlife Fund, includes the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica), the Lesser Antilles, the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands, and Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao. It does not include Trinidad and Tobago; these islands rest on South America's shallow continental shelf, and have been historically part of the South American continent.

The climate of the ecoregion is tropical, and varies from humid to arid. Geology and topography also vary, with larger mountainous islands of continental rock, volcanic islands, and low-lying coral and limestone islands. The bioregion includes Tropical moist forests, tropical dry forests, tropical pine forests, flooded grasslands and savannas, xeric shrublands, and mangroves.

The Caribbean bioregion's distinct flora and fauna was shaped by long periods of physical separation from the neighboring continents, allowing plants and animals to evolve in isolation. Other plants and animals arrived via long-distance oceanic dispersal or island hopping from North America and South America.

Three mammal families are endemic to the bioregion; the Solenodontidae includes two species of Solenodon, one species on Cuba, the other on Hispaniola. Fossil evidence shows that the family was once more widespread in North America. Family Nesophontidae, or the West Indian shrews, contained a single genus, Nesophontes, which inhabited Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and the Cayman Islands. All members of the family are now believed to be extinct. The Capromyidae, or hutias, include a number of species, mainly from the Greater Antilles. Many other rodents of the Caribbean are also restricted to the region.

Ecoregions[edit]

Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests[edit]

Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests[edit]

Tropical and subtropical coniferous forests[edit]

Flooded grasslands and savannas[edit]

Deserts and xeric shrublands[edit]

Mangrove[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Dinerstein, Eric; David Olson; Douglas J. Graham; et al. (1995). A Conservation Assessment of the Terrestrial Ecoregions of Latin America and the Caribbean. World Bank, Washington DC.
  • Iturralde-Vinent, M.A., and R.D.E. MacPhee (1999). Paleogeography of the Caribbean region: Implications for Cenozoic biogeography. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 238:1-95.
  • MacPhee, R.D.E., Ronald Singer, Michael Diamond (2000). "LateCenozoic Land Mammals from Grenada, Lesser Antilles Island-Arc". American Museum Novitates Number 3302, American Museum of Natural History, October 16, 2000.