We analyzed the avifaunas of the Caribbean islands and nearby continental areas and their relationships using Parsimony Analysis of Endemicity (PAE), in order to assess biogeographical patterns and their concordance with geological and phylogenetic evidence. Using distributional information of birds obtained from published literature, a presence/absence matrix for 695 genera and 2026 species of land and freshwater birds was constructed and analyzed. Three different analyses were performed: for species, for genera, and for species and genera combined. In the combined analysis, the Lesser Antilles appear paraphyletic at the base of the cladogram. Then, two major clades are identified: South America (Andes, Venezuelan lowlands, Dutch West Indies and Trinidad and Tobago) and North America, including the Greater Antilles in a clade that is the sister area to Yucatan and the Central American countries nested from north to south. PAE results support Caribbean vicariant models and cladistic biogeographical hypotheses on area relationships, and show relative congruence with available phylogenetic data. Bird biogeography on the Caribbean islands appears to have been caused by both vicariance and dispersal processes.

© The Willi Hennig Society 2007.