Say Goodbye To Cacti: 3 Reasons They Might Soon Be Gone

Itís hard not to think of a cactus as a resilient plant. Living in hot, drought-stricken climates, if it can survive there, surely it can make it through anything. Sadly, this assumption is not reality for the cactus. As an international team of researchers discovered, nearly one-third of all cactus species face a looming threat of extinction.

The study, recently published in the scientific journal Nature Plants, examined populations of nearly 1,500 cactus species Ė 31 percent of which were deemed at risk of extinction. Collectively, the researchers found that ďcacti are among the most threatened taxonomic groups assessed to date.Ē Here are three big reasons why cacti are in trouble:

1. Loss of Habitat

As the global human population grows, so does the demand for land — land for people to live on, land for growing crops and land for raising livestock. Though most environmentalists are well aware of how this phenomenon destroys Amazonian rainforests, fewer probably realize itís also responsible for clearing arid climates as well. Consequentially, landowners chop down rare cactus species without much thought to how few remain throughout the world.

2. Illegal Sale

Thanks to their exotic†beauty, cacti are popular purchases in regions where they donít naturally grow, particularly Europe. Though trade of cacti is largely illegal, because of the hefty prices cacti can fetch (up to $1,000 for a single cactus,) people are willing to take the risk and snatch grown cacti from their natural habitats anyway.

In these new non-native environments, buyers often do not understand the conditions necessary to keep them alive, let alone how to help them reproduce, meaning they die out. Additionally, by having fewer cacti in natural habitats, there are far fewer seeds around for new cacti to grow.

3. Climate Change

Like most life forms on the planet, cacti are vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. So far, cacti can withstand the increased temperatures, but they ultimately lose when other desert creatures arenít as adaptable. For example, some cactus species rely on butterflies for pollination, and with monarch butterflies dying off from climate change, those cacti are under threat.

Furthermore, although we think of cacti as living in isolated deserts, some species live near the coast. With the rising sea levels accompanying climate change, habitats for these cacti may be underwater in another century or so.

The loss of cacti is especially devastating when you consider how critical they are to desert ecosystems. Humans and animals alike rely on cacti for food and water. While governments have recently started to more seriously crack down on illegal cactus trade, itís going to take additional and deliberate intervention on our part to ensure that hundreds of cactus species survive in the centuries ahead.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.

102 comments

Mark Donner
Mark Donner1 years ago

Dan Blossfeld blowing hot air, he's on a personal vendetta against anyone lifting a finger about the fact of man made climate change. Good luck with that DB you'll need more than army

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey1 years ago

Never thought that there would be danger to such tough plants.

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Patricia Harris
John Taylor1 years ago

Jinny L., that's a very good question, but the most important question is, what's wrong with some of the people who actually do give a damn about this planet?? Some claim that it's hopeless to even do anything about it, some claim that it would be better off if we did nothing, and expect our world leaders to do something, even though we all know that's not happening anytime soon!!!! If we want something done, then we're going to have to do it ourselves, and not have to wait for our lousy governments to make the first move!!!! We, as concerned citizens of the world, have free will and the common sense to do whatever we please, and no damn government is going to stop us even if they tried!!!! We are the ones who were meant to run our own countries/cities!!!!! We are the ones who are destined to put evil in it's place, and take their place as rightful world leaders!!!!!!

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Jinny L.

Come on people....what is wrong with us? Jeez.....How dare we destroy everything that was created on this earth.....thanks for sharing.

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william Miller
william Miller1 years ago

thanks

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Patricia Harris
John Taylor1 years ago

James M., it's good to know that your cacti are doing well! :)

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James Maynard
James Maynard1 years ago

I have several varieties of cactus growing in my yard. They do very well here and are easy on the water bill.

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Sen Heijkamp
Sayenne H1 years ago

hmmm

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Patricia Harris
John Taylor1 years ago

Kamia T., I know just how you feel, but rest assured that this is a ''MIGHT'' which means it's not definite that they will be gone!! This article is undoubtedly just being used as a form of awaerness!!

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