The importance of the Cockpit Country for the conservation of
Jamaica's invertebrate biodiversity cannot be properly appraised at
the present time due to an insufficient database. Most groups of
terrestrial invertebrates have not been collected to any extensive
degree. For many species, the type locality is the only known site.
Areas with high counts of species may reflect favorite, accessible
sample sites rather than important centers of species diversity.
Significant numbers of species have been collected and deposited in
museums but not yet described scientifically. Also, sample sites
for many of the identified individuals have remained unpublished.
Reviews of species groups, including distribution and status are
available for a small minority of invertebrate groups.
Selected invertebrate groups are presented below for which
reviews have become available within the last 30 years or so.
Up to 1990, only 34 species of rotifers were known from Jamaica,
and none from the Cockpit Country. Studies of a number of sites
throughout Jamaica has added 177 species to this number, making 211
in all (Koste et al. 1993, Janetzky et al. 1995). One
area studied intensively was the Windsor and Pantrepant region of
the Cockpit Country. The site produced 29 species from rivers, 74
from natural and artificial pools, 37 from bromeliads, and 14 from
water-filled snail shells; many rotifers occurred in more than one
habitat. Relatively few rotifers are endemic to Jamaica (less than
10%). However, a new species was
found in bromeliads in Windsor, which so far has not been reported
from elsewhere. These microscopic organisms occupy the faunal
foundation for the bromeliad food web.
b. Land and freshwater mollusks
Jamaican land snails have
attracted considerable attention and have been collected from as
early as 1795. In an unpublished account of species, Mehring (1965)
lists about 450 species of shelled land snails from Jamaica.
Further extensive collection, particularly by G. Goodfriend and G. Rosenberg have extended the number to 555
valid species, of which 499 (90%) are endemic to the island. Most
of these species have very limited ranges and often do not occur
across more than 1-4 parishes. The village of Auchtembeddie, on the
southern periphery of the Cockpit Country, alone hosts 87 species
of land snails, of which 69 (79%) are endemic - one of the highest
densities of endemic land snails in the world (G. Rosenberg, pers.
comm.). Dr. Rosenberg's project is ongoing and should result in
improved distribution maps for all species. His work also includes
detailed microhabitat descriptions, data that are lacking for most
of Jamaica's snails because of the propensity of early collectors
to send local persons into the field to collect shells with little
regard for collection site descriptions or to collect during the
daytime when live snails often are buried in the soil so as to
prevent dessication. In some instances "rare" species are, in fact,
common on hilltops -- merely more difficult to access (M. E. Agren,
c. Land crabs of the subfamily Sesarminae
Studies during the last ten years almost doubled the number of
known Jamaican land crabs of the subfamily Sesarminae from 5 to 9
species, including Sesarma windsor, which was discovered in
the Cockpit Country (Schubart et al. 1998, Diesel et
al., in press). These grapsid crabs evolved from a single
ancestor within Jamaica and thus all are endemic to the island.
They have adapted to different life styles in streams, caves, rocks
and bromeliads. The Cockpit Country is a centre of their diversity
with a species present in each of the four microhabitats.
Metopaulias depressus responded to the lack of surface water
by adapting to breeding in bromeliad tanks. Maternal care is
extensive, including transport of snail shells into the bromeliad
nursery to buffer the water, which becomes acidic from decomposing
vegetation, and increase the availability of calcium needed for
molt (Diesel 1989, 1992a, 1992b). In
addition to maintenance of the nursery habitat, Metopaulias
depressus also shows brood care by (1) defending the young
agains predators, such as the endemic damselfly Diceratobasis
macrogaster, which is also the only damselfly known to breed in
bromeliads and (2) feeding the young. (Diesel 1989, 1992a, 1992b).
d. Lampyridae fireflies
Lampyrid fireflies (and Elateridae click beetles, known locally
as peeny wallies and headlight beetles) have been a subject of both
scientific and popular fascination. The first species of Jamaican
fireflies to be mentioned in the literature were described by
Patrick Browne in 1756. While only four species of fireflies had
been described from Jamaica by the end of the 19th century, at
present 48 species are recognized taxonomically; 45 are endemic to
Jamaica (94% endemism). During the dry summer months, the hillsides
of the Cockpit Country glow with the mate-attracting light dances
of males. The remarkable phenomenon of synchronous flashing of the
endemic Photinus synchronans (see Buck 1938) has been
observed by S.E. Koenig in Windsor only during spring and summer
months. Microdiphot cavernarum is known only from Windsor
Great Cave (McDermott and Buck 1959). It is not known how many
species of firefly occur in Cockpit Country because little
scientific collecting has been undertaken.
e. Carabid beetles: the Bromeliarum group
One genus in the Carabidae family of predaceous ground beetles,
which generally occur along waterside habitats, has shifted its
ecology and become specialized to the confines of bromeliads in the
Cockpit Country. The genus Colpodes consists of five
species, all of which are endemic to Jamaica and occur in or are
probably confined to bromeliads. They probably derived from a
single winged carabid that may have first lived simply beside water
and became ecologically specialized and radiated among bromeliads
f. Scolytid and platypodid beetles
The most 'recent' review recorded 62 species of Scolytidae (Bark
beetles) and 7 species of Platypodidae (Ambrosia beetles) from
Jamaica and included all known records from the island (Bright
1972). Nearly 40% (26 species) were described as new to science.
The number of endemic species was tentatively given as 31. However,
the discussion of regional and global distribution was extremely
difficult since these beetles are very poorly known elsewhere in
the Caribbean and Central America. A large majority of 25 of the 31
endemic species has only been taken at the type locality. This
includes four species that were obtained from single sites in the
Cockpit Country. The total number of island endemics from this area
was 6. As with other invertebrate research, sampling efforts seemed
to be biased towards the Blue Mountain region. Nine species were
exclusively collected at Hardwar Gap alone, and the total number of
island endemics occurring in the Blue Mountains amounted to 20.
Many species of Scolytidae elsewhere in the tropics have been
identified as serious pests of trees, both hardwoods and conifers.
In addition to the physical destruction of the wood by the
tunneling activities, damage also is caused by fungal staining of
sapwood (Hogue 1993). While injured trees and cut timber are most
susceptible, some species infest live trees. Single-species
plantations particularly are vulnerable to heavy infestation (Haack
et al. 1989).
Jamaica's butterfly fauna
comprises 119 species of which 19 species and 12 subspecies are
endemic to the island. At least 95 of the 119 butterfly species
(including all the endemics (even Graphium marcellinus
recorded for first time in June, 2000 at Windsor) have been
seen in the Cockpit Country .
The area is of particular importance for the following three
Aphrissa hartonia (Hartonia): Only known from a few
localities in the Cockpit Country; although Perkins identified the
adults frequently visiting Guango (Saman saman), the food
plant of the larvae is unknown.
Atlantea pantoni (Jamaican Patch): Restricted almost
entirely to the Cockpit Country; published sightings are confined
to the south-southeast districts of Troy, Tyre, Wilson Run and
Cockpit Mountain; unpublished accounts include Burnt Hill Road (A.
Haynes-Sutton); the food plant of the larvae is unknown.
Pterourus homerus (Giant Swallowtail Butterfly) ,
is a Jamaican endemic and the largest of the true Swallowtail
butterflies in the World. It is endangered and listed in Appendix 1
of CITES. P. homerus historically ranged in at least seven
parishes across the island (Brown and Heineman 1972) but at present
is mainly restricted to two isolated areas, the Cockpit Country in
the west and the Blue Mountains and adjoining John Crow mountains
in the east (Smith et.al. 1994). However the persistence of the
eastern population is of major concern due to the high mortality
from egg parasitism by very tiny wasp, that appears to be
facilitated by high levels of forest degradation in its breeding
areas (Garraway and Bailey 1993). Hence, due to its remoteness and
difficult terrain that makes this population less vulnerable, the
Cockpit Country may represent the only viable population of P.
homerus. However, little is known about the ecology and status of
this Western population.
P. homerus was historically seen in the Mount Diablo area, and we are currently negotiating with a European zoo group to obtain funding for surveys and outreach in this neglected area.
h. Cave-dwelling invertebrates
The invertebrate fauna of Jamaican caves has been documented in
greater detail than the terrestrial invertebrates owing to
concerted studies undertaken in the late 1960s, 1970s, and early
1980s (Peck 1997). Across the island, about 250 free-living
macroscopic species are now known from 52 caves. Forty two species
(26 terrestrial and 16 aquatic) are considered to be troglobites,
specialized for subterranean life, and are associated with bat
guano and other food sources coming from outside the cave or are
predators of the guano scavengers. Although Cuba, which is 10 times
larger than Jamaica, hosts numerically more troglobites (44 aquatic
and 30 terrestrial) Jamaica unequivocally hosts the highest
densities of any island in the West Indies.
Each cave offers a different environment, some being food-poor
and others having large deposits of organic food materials, such as
flood debris or bat guano. The result is that each cave hosts a
unique assemblage of species represented by diverse taxa of worms,
mollusks, archnids, harvestmen, pseudoscorpions, mites, crabs and
shrimp, isopods, crustaceans (isopods and copepods), centipedes and
millipedes, cockroaches, earwigs, crickets, hemipteran bugs,
beetles, moths, ants, wasps, and flies. For a complete list see
Actual or potential economic importance of
Major pollinators of native and commercially important plants
include bees, butterflies, and moths. Insects also help decompose
organic material and prey on pests. No information was found
identifying native species as crop pests along the periphery of the
Butterflies are the most
conspicuous diurnal invertebrates. The diversity of butterflies
found in the Cockpit Country and the year-round observance of adult
lifeforms render favorable conditions for visitors. Butterfly
ranching in the buffer zone of the Cockpit Country, to support an
educational display house located in a tourist area (e.g., Ocho
Rios), offers the potential for sustainable use of common,
non-threatened species, with generated revenues directed back to
species research and habitat conservation (for examples, see New
Get a Search Engine For Your Web Site