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Summary table and references of studies of the biogeography of the West Indies found in the Web of Science Core Collection database

Cite this dataset

Rodriguez Silva, Rodet; Schlupp, Ingo (2021). Summary table and references of studies of the biogeography of the West Indies found in the Web of Science Core Collection database [Dataset]. Dryad.


Studies of the biogeography of the West Indies are numerous but not all taxonomic groups have received the same attention. Many of the contributions to this field have historically focused on terrestrial vertebrates from a perspective closely linked to the classical theory of island biogeography. However, some recent works have questioned whether some of the assumptions of this theory are too simplistic. In this review, we compiled information about the West Indies biogeography based on an extensive and rigorous literature search. While we offer some background of the main hypotheses that explain the origin of the Caribbean biota, our main purpose here is to highlight divergent diversification patterns observed in terrestrial versus aquatic groups of the West Indian biota and also to shed light on the unbalanced number of studies covering the biogeography of these groups of organisms. We use an objective method to compile existing information in the field and produce a rigorous literature review. Our results show that most of the relevant literature in the field is related to the study of terrestrial organisms (mainly vertebrates) and only a small portion covers aquatic groups. Specifically, livebearing fishes show interesting deviations from the species-area relationship predicted by classical island biogeography theory. We found that species richness on the Greater Antilles is positively correlated with island size but also with the presence of elevations showing that not only island area but also mountainous relief may be an important factor determining the number of freshwater species in the Greater Antilles. Our findings shed light on mechanisms that may differently drive speciation in aquatic versus terrestrial environments suggesting that ecological opportunity could outweigh the importance of island size in speciation. Investigations into freshwater fishes of the West Indies offer a promising avenue for understanding the origins and subsequent diversification of the Caribbean biota.


We conducted a literature search on the Web of Knowledge (Web of Science Core Collection database) through the University of Oklahoma Library website on December 17th, 2020. We obtained a total of 890 article records published between 1900 and 2020 using the following key word combinations for the search: “West Indies biogeography” (238 records), “Caribbean biota” (153 records), “Caribbean islands colonization” (234 records), “adaptive radiations Caribbean” (128 records) and “Antilles biodiversity” (131 records). After each search using a specific key word combination, all available outcomes (publications) were assessed and scrutinized based on the topic of the each study. We only considered publications in which the central theme was related to aspects of the Caribbean biogeography (i.e. historical biogeography, species radiations, phylogenetic and phylogeographic studies). In addition, we classified the publications according to the specific area coverage for each study, studied group(s) and the analysis of biogeographical trends or biogeographical theories supported by each study (if any).


Caribaea Initiative

National Geographic Society, Award: WW-054R-17

Caribaea Initiative