The historical biogeography of the West Indies and the Caribbean region is complex, involving numerous tectonic and climatic events, as well as a meteor impact, promoting species divergence, disjunction, migration, and extinction. Further, the region is poised between the two great landmasses of the western hemisphere, for which the Antilles have simultaneously served as a refugium for once widespread taxa, a conduit for intercontinental migration, and a vehicle for adaptive radiation. The relative importance of major routes of migration, e.g., from Mesoamerica, southern Florida, and northern South America through the Lesser Antilles, has shifted over time as geohistorical events have ensued. This complexity presents a daunting yet exciting challenge for evolutionary biologists attempting to reconstruct the historical biogeography of the region and assessing the impact of this history on continental floras of the Americas and elsewhere. Considerable research has addressed Caribbean biogeography from the perspective of various animal groups, such as the insects, lizards, and fishes. There has been far less phylogenetically based research on the historical biogeography of Caribbean plant groups. The development of new molecular and analytical tools, new geological and palynological data, and ongoing research into the systematics and evolution of various Antillean plant genera provide material for a reevaluation of the historical biogeography of the Caribbean region in a phylogenetic context. This symposium will bring together researchers with phylogenetic data on various Antillean plant groups. Its goals are to further our understanding of general biogeographic patterns that underlie the distributions of Caribbean plant taxa, integrate these patterns with the biological processes thought to be involved in their development, and identify groups and methods for future research into the historical phytogeography of this biodiverse region.

Key words: Antilles, Caribbean, historical biogeography, phylogeny