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This book summarises current 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 recent 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.
'Provides a wealth of reliable information and will be a must-have for anyone studying cacti or nectar-feeding bats. . . . Spending time with this book leaves no doubt that columnar cacti and their mutualists play important roles in the ecosystem they inhabit' Ecology
'It is a book written at university level, but readable for the serious cactus enthusiast' Plant Science Bulletin
With chapter summaries in Spanish