Plant-animal interactions in deserts
Desert animals and plants interact in ways that have strongly influenced their respective evolutionary trajectories. This chapter begins with herbivory because of its widespread impacts, many of which are presumed to be negative. It then moves on to some other important aspects of desert plant—animal interactions, with a focus on pollination and seed dispersal. Of the various forms of pollination, the chapter will explore the yucca moth-yucca and senita moth-senita cactus mutualisms. With regard to the role of animals in seed predation and seed dispersal, it will consider the effects of small mammals and ants on seed abundance, and the role of large mammals in dispersing the seeds of keystone Acacia species. This selection of examples illustrates how the relatively simple nature of the desert environment has given biologists unique insights into the importance of plant—animal interactions for ecosystem function.
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