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Biology of Dryland Plants

Casas, Alejandro [1].

Plant domestication and sustainable use of plant r.

Drylands constitute nearly one half of the Mexican territory, including the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts in the North and the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley in Central Mexico. These areas house nearly 6,000 vascular plant species (approximately 20% of the Mexican flora, 60% endemic), and nearly one half of the Mexican indigenous cultures (30 indigenous ethnic groups out of a total of 58). Humans and plants in these areas have interacted for about 10,000 years and ethnobotanical studies have documented the current existence of nearly 2,000 useful plant species. Most useful plant species (~93%) are wild or weedy native plants and approximately 7% are introduced crop plants. Among the native plant species, nearly 8% are under in situ or silvicultural management and approximately 14% (including most of the silvicultural managed species) are under cultivation in different ex situ agricultural systems. Domestication of plants is occurring through both in situ and ex situ management and at present it is possible to observe a continuous gradient of effects of human selection on populations through morphological, population genetics and ecological indicators in relation to the intensity of artificial selection. Managed populations of drylands plants are important reservoirs of genetic diversity which generally maintain a high gene flow with wild populations. Consequently, managed populations may play a significant role in conservation of genetic diversity in the wild. But also, conservation of wild populations is crucial for the maintenance of crop genetic diversity. Sustainable management of drylands plant resources has an important basis on traditional knowledge and technology, as revealed by traditional agricultural/silvicultural systems. Ecological studies have started to contribute to this purpose, helping in planning the appropriation of plant resources at population and ecosystem levels.

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1 - Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Centro de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas, Antigua Carretera a Pátzcuaro 8701, Apartado Postal 27-3 (Santa María de Guido), Morelia, Michoacán, 58190, México

Mexican drylands
sustainable management.

Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: 49-18
Location: Salon K - Austin Grand Ballroom/Hilton
Date: Wednesday, August 17th, 2005
Time: 4:30 PM
Abstract ID:95

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