Columnar Cacti and Their Mutualists
Evolution, Ecology, and Conservation
This book summarizes our knowledge about the ecology, evolution, and conservation of columnar cacti and their vertebrate mutualists to show that the very survival of these cacti depends on animals who pollinate them and disperse their seeds. Contributors from the United States, Mexico, Venezuela, and Colombia explore aspects of geology and evolution that have forged this relationship, review findings in anatomy and physiology, and discuss recent research in population and community ecology as well as conservation issues. Ranging from the Sonoran Desert to the northern Andes, these studies reflect progress in understanding how abiotic and biotic factors interact to influence the evolution, distribution, and abundance of cacti and mutualists alike.
In addition, this book examines the ways in which humans, through the process of domestication, have modified these plants for economic benefit. The contributors also review phylogenetic relationships between cacti and nectar-feeding bats in an effort to understand how bat-plant interactions have influenced the evolution of diversity and ecological specialization of both. Because of the number of migratory pollinators feeding on columnar cacti, the authors make conservation recommendations aimed at preserving fully functional ecosystems in arid portions of the New World tropics and subtropics.
Columnar Cacti and Their Mutualists provided a benchmark for both conservation efforts and future research.
“It is a book written at university level, but readable for the serious cactus enthusiast.”—Plant Science Bulletin
“An important contribution to the literature on species interactions and mutualisms, as well as one of the most significant works ever published on the two topics of columnar cacti and nectar-feeding bats.”—Peter E. Scott, Indiana State University