By: Andre Alyass
Summary: The saguaro cactus is a key species in the Sonoran desert, as it provides a number of important services to the native people and species of the land. Its fruits and seeds are one of the main sources of food in the desert. Research shows that effects humans are having on the cactus and the effect climate change will very soon have on the cactus will pose a grave threat to the organism. On the Mexico and U.S border in the Sonoran desert, is the native land of the saguaro cactus. The cactus is a large species that can grow to 40 feet tall and also provide fruit and flowers that grows off it. Due to current administration authorizing a wall across the U.S and Mexican border, the saguaro cacti are being displaced and in some instances destroyed to make room for the border wall. The cacti are remarkable species that are able to survive and thrive in the desert. In addition, the local ecosystem and species rely on the cactus to survive and if they were to die out the entire ecosystem could collapse. The cactus has many practical uses and holds cultural importance with the indigenous people of the Sonoran desert. Native Americans used to and still do eat the fruit and use it for drinks and preserves. It still is used by the natives for an important source of food and building materials. With the border wall being built, the displacement of the cactus can have negative effects on the indigenous people and the natural environment of the Sonoran desert.
Why we should care? Saguaro Cacti should be preserved at all costs, they are the foundation species for their environment and without the cacti many organisms that rely on the plant for food, shelter and way of life would deteriorate.
Example News Article:
I found this particular article interesting because of the removal of the cactus to make room for something that seems to be a blunt solution to a problem that could be solved in dozens of different ways rather than building a wall. To remove saguaro cacti to make room for a wall that harms the environment where it is built at and displaces wildlife and the saguaro cactus is a foolish deed and the article highlights this. The article also highlights the importance of the cactus for its environment and its surrounding organisms.
Science in Action.
Dr. David Dettman is a Research Scientist and Manager of the University of Arizona's Environmental Isotope Laboratory.
Dr. Dettman explains how and why the saguaro are foundation species in the Sonoran desert. By holding so much water they are able to survive in these conditions. Dettman's goal of his research project is to study how the cacti react to variations and changes in their local climate. With climate change on the horizon, the saguaro cactus are bound to be affected. Dettman is studying how the cacti react to climate change by recording the oxygen, water and carbon isotopes in the spines of the cactus. This will reflect the amount of water and water stress the cactus has and recording this annually will reflect the cactus growth rate. This is relevant to my blog, because the saguaro cactus are a foundation species in the desert where many other species rely on them. In their environment they have relatively the same importance as a tree does, and if to understand how they are being affected by climate change is incredibly important.
It is so insane to me that such a hardy plant is in trouble because of a wall! There is so much importance to keeping the ecosystem in balance, and politicians who believe a borderline is worth destroying delicate ancient ecosystems definitely have their priorities in a different area than those who have to actually live in the destroyed environment after the wall is built. On top of destroying the ecosystem, there are natives who actually live off these cacti, that brings so much more importance to the plant because it affects humans indirectly and directly. That was something I appreciated from this article; bringing up the reasons why the ecosystem would be destroyed is one thing, but talking about how it would directly affect humans brings a stronger sense of discomfort when reading about the destructions of the cacti. Talking about this cactus also brings the conversation of climate change to the table. This is such a relevant topic nowadays, and I think it adds to the seriousness of the article. The author of this article did a great job discussing how the destruction of this cacti community is a multi-factored issue, but every single thing that is harming the cacti is human related.
It's so interesting (and by interesting, I mean depressing) just how overlooked the environment is in any kind of legal decision. I mean, really! When he decided on this wall and his party jumped on the bandwagon, did anyone stop to consider a CACTUS? Of course not, what's important is money! And now that they've overlooked the ecological impact, they're going to have to learn with the rest of us what will happen to the ecosystem. It never seems to matter, driving out any species, not even a keystone species...
Appreciate tthis blog post
Thank you for pointing out that the local ecology and species depend on the cactus to live and that if they went extinct, the ecosystem as a whole may collapse. My mother complains that the cactus behind her house is withering. I'll advise her to contact a reputable cactus removal service.
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