Antillean Subregion

Antillean Subregion

 

West Indian subregion, subre-gion of the Neotropical zoogeographical dry-land region. The Antillean subregion comprises all the islands of the West Indies, including Cuba and the Bahamas but excluding Trinidad. Compared to the fauna of neighboring parts of the region, which mainly occupy tropical rain forests, the fauna of the Antillean subregion is rather poor, even though its natural conditions are varied. The main reason for this is the island character of the Antillean subregion, which impedes the settlement of species that might come by land from either North America or Central and South America. In certain periods in the past, the islands were more closely linked with each other and also with South and North America. At other times these ties were less than at present, and some islands disappeared completely. In addition, the animals on the islands diminished in number not only because of natural causes—such as climatic conditions—but also, especially in the last century, because of the influence of man and the animals he has imported— such as the rat, cat, and mongoose.

The fauna of nonflying mammals is very impoverished and is characterized above all by the absence of groups typical of the region as a whole, such as New World monkeys, armadillos, tapirs, deer, and sloths. The subregion has three endemic genera of rodents of the hutia family (Ca-promyidae) and the most primitive contemporary family of insectivores, the Solenodontidae, which are now quite rare because of predation by the mongoose. One particular family of insectivores, Nesophontidae (several species), has quite recently become entirely extinct. Individual species, such as the raccoon on the Bahama Islands, have reached the Antillean subregion from North as well as South America. There are many species of bats, including many species of South American origin, such as the true vampire bats, in addition to the endemic species, such as the fish-eating Noctilio leporinus. Birds (approximately 150 genera, about 20 percent of which are endemic) are much more varied than the mammals, and most have ties to the fauna of the Guiana-Brazilian subregion, although a number of families are absent nonetheless. The tody (family To-diidae) is native. In the class Reptilia there are one species of crocodile and several lizards and snakes of South American origin.

REFERENCES

Geptner, V. G. Obshchaia zoogeografiia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1936.
Puzanov, I. I. Zoogeografiia. Moscow, 1938. Bobrinskii, N. A., and N. A. Gladkov. Geografiia zhivotnykh,2nd ed. Moscow, 1961.

V. G. GEPTNER

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