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The desert islands of the Gulf of California are among the worlds best-preserved archipelagos. The diverse and unique flora, from the cardón forests of Cholludo to the agave-dominated slopes of San Esteban remain much as they were centuries ago, when the Comcaac (Seri people) were the only human presence in the region. Almost 400 plant species exist here, with each island manifesting a unique composition of vegetation and flora. For thousands of years, climatic and biological forces have sculpted a set of unparalleled desert worlds.
Plant Life of a Desert Archipelago is the first in-depth coverage of the plants on islands in the Gulf of California found in between the coasts of Baja California and Sonora. The work is the culmination of decades of study by botanist Richard Felger and recent investigations by Benjamin Wilder, in collaboration with Sr. Humberto Romero-Morales, one of the most knowledgeable Seris concerning the region's flora. Their collective effort weaves together careful and accurate botanical science with the rich cultural and stunning physical setting of this island realm.
The researchers surveyed, collected, and studied thousands of plants – seen here in meticulous illustrations and stunning colour photographs – providing the most precise species accounts of the islands ever made. To access remote parts of the islands the authors worked directly with the Comcaac, an indigenous community who have lived off marine and terrestrial life in this coastal desert region for centuries. Invaluable information regarding indigenous names and distributions are an intrinsic part of this work.
The flora descriptions are extraordinarily detailed and painstakingly crafted for field biologists. Conservationists, students, and others who are interested in learning about the natural wealth of the Gulf of California, desert regions, or islands in general are sure to be captivated by this rich and fascinating volume.
Richard Felger, PhD, is an associate researcher at the University of Arizona Herbarium, and the Sky Island Alliance in Tucson. Benjamin Wilder is a PhD student in the Botany and Plant Sciences Department at the University of California, Riverside. Humberto Romero-Morales is a conservationist and descendant of Seri people from Isla Tiburon, where he leads efforts to eradicate non-native species and guides bighorn hunting efforts.
"This book will serve as an enticing entry into the world of Sonoran Desert plants to the uninitiated, and it is an essential addition to the bookshelves of those botanical desert rats who already own works by Felger, Shreve, Van Devender, and Nabhan."
– Economic Botany
"Felger and Wilder provide a thorough synthesis of the biogeography and plant community diversity of the Sonoran islands of the Gulf of California."
– Choice Magazine