0159. The diversity and distributions of the beetles (Insecta: Coleoptera) of the northern Leeward Islands, Lesser Antilles (Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, Nevis, Saba, St. Barthélemy, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, and St. Martin-St. Maarten
Stewart B. Peck
This paper summarizes the published information on the beetle fauna of the northern Leeward Islands (Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, Nevis, Saba, St. Barthélemy, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, St. Martin-St. Maarten, and smaller associated islands, excluding Montserrat). These islands are generally smaller, lower, and drier than the remaining Leeward and Windward islands of the Lesser Antilles island arc. The fauna contains 26 families, with 155 genera, and 218 species. The families with the largest number of recorded species are Staphylinidae (36), Cerambycidae (28), Scarabaeidae (25), Tenebrionidae (23), Curculionidae (18), and Carabidae (15). At least 7 species (3.2% of the fauna) were probably introduced to the island by human activities. Sixteen species (7.3%) are endemic (restricted) to a single paleo-island bank and likely speciated there. Twenty nine species (13.3%) are shared only with other islands of the Lesser Antilles (Lesser Antillean endemics), and 43 species (19.7%) are more widespread Antilles endemics. The remaining 123 species (56.4%) in the fauna are otherwise mostly widely distributed in the Antilles and the Neotropical Region. The local beetle fauna is largely an immigrant fauna and has mostly originated elsewhere than on the islands of the northern Leewards. Summary data on total species endemicity of the entire Lesser Antilles indicate the presence of at least 1278 endemic beetle species, which is a density of about 20.7 species per 100 km2. This is now equivalent to that of the endemic vascular plants of the Caribbean islands. This truly makes the Caribbean islands a biodiversity hotspot for beetles. For the northern Leewards, it is evident that the beetle diversity is markedly understudied, and that the actual number of species is many times higher than now known.