Chapter

Biogeography of Central American Mammals

Edited by Ana Laura Almendra and Duke S. Rogers

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/9780226649214.003.0010
Biogeography of Central American Mammals

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Central America contains a disproportionate amount of biodiversity owing to its complex topography and geologic history and its position between the Nearctic and Neotropical realms. The understanding of Central American faunas is far from complete and biogeographic and phylogeographic patterns for mammals are not well articulated, some conclusions are emerging from analyses of molecular data. For example, the actual biodiversity for mammals, particularly for rodents, is likely much higher than currently documented. The historical events and geographic features that have shaped Central America seem to have affected mammals and other groups in similar fashion. Mid and high elevation faunas are relatively diverse and contain higher levels of endemism than lowland faunas, although radiations have occurred among both lowland and montane taxa. Rodents exhibit more genetic structure than do bats, ungulates, and primates over comparable geographic sampling. In many cases, estimated levels of molecular divergence correspond to events that occurred in the early Pleistocene or late Pliocene. Unfortunately, continued and rapid change in land-use practices throughout Central America may preclude a complete and accurate reconstruction of the region's historical biogeography.

Keywords: biogeography; mammals; biodiversity; nearctic; neotropical; phylogeographic; Pleistocene; Pliocene

Chapter.  11070 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biological Sciences

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