Chapter

West Indian Mammals

Edited by Liliana M. Dávalos and Samuel T. Turvey

in Bones, Clones, and Biomes

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780226649191
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226649214 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226649214.003.0009
West Indian Mammals

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The West Indian mammal fauna has played a key role in the development of biogeographic ideas for over a century, but a synthesis explaining regional patterns of mammal diversity and distribution in a historical framework has not emerged. Recent phylogenetic, population genetic, and radiocarbon dating studies of West Indian mammals explore the biological and historical drivers of colonization, speciation, and extinction in this region of endemism. A complete list of all its extant and extinct mammals is presented in this chapter. The mammalian biota is older than was earlier presumed, with many ancient endemic lineages, even among highly vagile organisms such as bats. Land bridges, Cenozoic eustatic sea-level changes and Pleistocene glacial cycles have been proposed to explain the colonization of the islands, but phylogenetic divergence analyses often conflict with the timing of these events and favor alternative biogeographic histories. The loss of West Indian biodiversity is incompletely understood, but new radiometric chronologies indicate that anthropogenic impacts rather than glacial-interglacial environmental changes are responsible for most Quaternary extinction and extirpation events involving land mammals.

Keywords: West Indian mammals; extinct; phylogenetic; population genetic; endemic lineages; pleistocene glacial cycles; biodiversity; Quaternary extinction

Chapter.  14962 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biological Sciences

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