Center for Systematic Entomology, Gainesville, Florida


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Published in INSECTA MUNDI: A Journal of World Insect Systematics, #0052 (2008). Published by the Center for Systematic Entomology, Inc., Gainseville, FL. Copyright © 2008 by the authors.


The origins of the Cuban bee fauna are reviewed. This fauna began to form 40 million years ago during the Proto Antilles period, through ancestors that arrived in successive invasions from adjacent continental areas. The composition of the Antillean fauna has evolved continuously over millions of years until the present time. The native bee fauna of Cuba is represented by 89 species, contained in 29 genera and 4 families. The number of genera represented per family is as follows: Colletidae (3), Halictidae (8), Megachilidae (4), and Apidae (14). The Cuban apifauna contains four principal groups with distinct biogeographic histories: endemic species of Cuba (43.8%); endemic species of the Antilles shared among multiple islands (33.1%); continental species whose distribution includes the Antilles (16.8%); and species introduced through human activity (6.3%). An analysis of the distributions of Cuban bee species reveals that areas of highest species endemism coincide with the main mountainous nuclei of the East, Center and West. These were: the Sierra Maestra mountain range (with 25 species), Nipe-Sagua-Baracoa (15), the Mountain range of Guaniguanico (14) and the Massif of Guamuaya (14). The distribution of the bees in the Cuban Archipelago was not uniform, possibly due to the ecological conditions of the respective habitats, the diversity and presence of specific food plants, and interspecific competition. The endemism of bees in Greater Antilles is considered high keeping in mind the mobility of the group, as observed not only in Cuba (43.8%) but also Jamaica (50%), Hispaniola (45.6%), and in Puerto Rico and adjacent islands (26.5 %).

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