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Title: Seed plant genera endemic to the Caribbean Island biodiversity hotspot: A review and a molecular phylogentic perspective

item LEWIS, C.
item Meerow, Alan
item MAUNDER, M.

Submitted to: Botanical Review
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/31/2007
Publication Date: 10/26/2007
Citation: Francisco-Ortega, J., Santiago-Valentin, E., Acevedo-Rodriguez, P., Lewis, C., Pipoly Iii, J., Meerow, A.W., Maunder, M. 2007. Seed plant genera endemic to the Caribbean Island biodiversity hotspot: A review and a molecular phylogentic perspective. Botanical Review. 73:183-234.

Interpretive Summary: The Bahamas and Greater and Lesser Antilles are considered one of the world’s “hotspots” for biodiversity, and of particular concern from the perspective of biodiversity conservation. Genera and species found only in the Caribbean basin (“endemic”) are reviewed and analyzed in terms of their patterns of distribution, likely origins, and taxonomic position based on recent molecular data. A total of 178 genera are found only in the Caribbean. As is typical on islands, the endemic genera are generally represented by a single species. With the current state of research data, it is not possible to draw significant conclusions regarding the correlation of evolutionary and geographic information about these genera and species. Further studies at multiple levels are needed on the endemic plants of the Caribbean hotspot.

Technical Abstract: The Caribbean Island Biodiversity Hotspot is composed primarily by the Bahamas and Greater and Lesser Antilles. A total of 178 genera (722 spp., ca. 9% of the species endemic to the Antilles) are restricted to this hotspot. Most of these genera are unispecific (53%), a pattern that is also found on other islands of the World. The majority of the endemic genera belong to the “Core Eudicot” clade, and they were published in two time periods (1854 – 1878 and 1904 – 1928). There are molecular phylogenies available for 63 of the endemic genera. However, phylogenetic reconstructions for only 21 genera are based on more than one independent DNA region, have well supported clades and have good taxonomic sampling. Six of the endemic genera form part of early branching groups. We could not infer biogeographical conclusions from the molecular phylogenies of most of the endemic genera (43, 68%). There is an urgent need for: (1) additional field studies to know the conservation status of these genera, (2) effective protection of the habitats where the most endangered genera occur, and (3) additional biological and systematic studies of the most poorly known genera.