Soon after its emergence, Jamaica started to experience colonization by biotas that island-hopped via exposed shoals from Central America along the Nicaraguan rise as well as from the neighboring islands of Cuba and Hispaniola and North America. The darker-blue areas on the map above show 200m depths which would have been dry about 10,000 years ago (at the end of the last glaciation period (see Lack 1976). The ancestors of all present-day species required the abilities to disperse overwater and, consequently, species diversity is typical of an oceanic island. Compared to a mainland area of comparable size and latitude, the species richness of Jamaica's biota is depauperate, with many taxonomic groups of poor dispersal ability absent from the biota. However, for the successful colonizing species, Jamaica's size and diverse physical features presented a wide range of microhabitats that facilitated within-island radiation and speciation. The present composition of species, both floral and faunal, represents some of the highest rates of endemism in the world, recognized particularly for ferns, birds, reptiles, frogs and land snails.
There are also some quite remarkable and advanced examples of brood care which have presumably evolved in response to the difficult environment., and we see many of these in the Cockpit Country.

Conservation of biological diversity requires a portfolio of a broadly-representative base of globally important ecosystems. The potential importance of particular species and ecosystems rich in endemism are recognized further. Within representative ecosystems, attention is given to:

Although there is no universally agreed classification for establishing the global importance of protected areas, and it frequently is difficult to attach a numerical value for intrinsic qualities of biodiversity to assess comparative economic worth, there are several ecologically important factors to be considered

In addition to nonquantitative ecological rankings, individual species or ecological communities can be recognized as:

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