Apr 3, 2020

Ecology and conservation of peyote in Texas, USA: Comparative survey of Lophophora williamsii populations in Tamaulipan Thornscrub and Chihuahuan Desert.

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Anna O. ErmakovaM. K. Terry


Wild-harvested plants are a globally valuable source of food and medicines and provide livelihoods for millions of people. Lophophora williamsii (peyote) is a small psychoactive cactus native to Mexico and Texas, USA, with considerable cultural, religious and medicinal significance to many indigenous peoples of North America. Peyote, like many plant species globally, is facing multiple threats and is in decline due to legal and illegal harvesting pressure as well as habitat conversion to grazing, agriculture and other economic land uses. Most published studies on peyote have focused on the plant's anthropological, chemical and medical aspects. Surprisingly little is known about the ecology of this species, despite it being currently listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Our study addresses this gap by providing the first detailed comparison of peyote populations growing in two distinct ecosystems in the USA: South Texas (Tamaulipan thornscrub) and West Texas (Chihuahuan desert). We highlight regional differences, whereby in West Texas plants at the surveyed sites plants were larger and densities were higher than in South Texas and note significant variability both within and between study sites. We also find significant ef...Continue Reading

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