Deserts may lack water but they don’t lack life. Shrubs and plants have evolved to minimize water loss and effectively manage the little water they do get. Most cacti bloom only occasionally to conserve water and precious energy.
Collectors are the principal threat to endangered Hedgehog cactus. Its bright red flowers make it an easy target for both private collectors and commercial dealers.
Water is a precious thing in a desert, and many have stores of it deep underground. But these stores are vulnerable to groundwater over-extraction when they are needed for urban expansion and are not responsibly managed.
Because of infrequent blooming, cacti are extremely dependent upon pollinators to propagate their numbers. Hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, bats and other insects are vital to the survival of and continued diversity of cactus species.
Populations of the endangered Hedgehog cactus are threatened by active copper mining and activities associated with mineral exploration. Open pit mining is the most destructive to the plants.
The Sonoran desert and associated grasslands, wetlands, lakes and rivers host some of the highest diversity of breeding birds in the continental United States. Meanwhile, some bird populations are declining due to building and agricultural development in the Sonoran desert and open grasslands.
Organizations such as the Desert Botanical Garden in Scottsdale, Arizona sponsor research and promote actions to help mitigate species loss. This herbarium specimen records data about the endangered Echinocereus arizonicus.
The best steps you can take to help preserve endangered cacti species are:
* Become water wise in your home and at work; conserve and wisely use water resources.
* Be energy wise in your daily life and support initiatives and laws that address global climate change.
* Do not collect cacti or other plants from the wild; instead purchase from reputable local growers and buy plants that are native to your area.