25 Dec '15, 6pm

A third of cacti species are nearing the point of extinction. Here's why:

A third of cacti species are nearing the point of extinction. Here's why:

Animal extinctions get lots of attention, but a recent study reminds us that many of the earth’s plants are on the brink of oblivion, too—specifically, cacti. That’s right, our favorite scene-setters for Western films are going the way of the dodo. New research , published earlier this month in the journal Nature Plants , found that extinction threatens nearly 500 cactus species, including the highly cultivated Schlumbergera bridgessii from southeastern Brazil, a.k.a. the Christmas cactus. “[Cacti] are fascinating plants with amazing adaptations to arid lands,” says lead author Barbara Goettsch, a researcher at the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN. “We assumed that many of them were threatened with extinction, but we didn’t know to what extent.” Basing their findings on IUCN’s conservation-status criteria, Goettsch and her team found that almost one-...

Full article: http://www.onearth.org/earthwire/cactus-species-extinction

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