What is it about?

The genetic makeup of the organ pipe cactus populations show that bats, their main pollinators and dispersers, mantain connectivity across populations through the seemingly impassable barrier of the Gulf of California

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Why is it important?

Organ pipe cactus populations and nectar and fruit eating bats are key elements of the desert ecosystems. Bat activity shapes the genetic structure of many tropical and subtropical species and also play a role of paramount importance in the colonization of islands. The interaction between cactus and bats highlight their tight ecological relationships and the genetic consequences of bat activity on the cactus genetic population structure.


Our findings show that bats can regularly travel across the open waters of the Gulf of California and affect the ecological and genetic structure of their partner species. These patterns of migration can be adjusted on short time periods during the flowering and fruiting season of the cactus. The connectivity among populations of some plant species are broader and bat movements are far wider than previously appreciated.

alberto burquez
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Are 150 km of open sea enough? Gene flow and population differentiation in a bat-pollinated columnar cactus, PLoS ONE, June 2023, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0282932.
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