Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 January 2012
Flower–pollinator interactions are among the most fascinating research areas in ecology. The ways in which such interactions evolve are influenced by a number of biotic and abiotic factors, such as habitat and climate, plant and animal morphology, phylogenetic background etc. The increasing amount of data on pollination ecology combined with more and more detailed and precise phylogenetic reconstructions based on (not only) molecular evidence, allows improvement of our understanding of how flower–pollinator relationships evolve. Plant lineages especially well-suited for the study of factors influencing the evolution of flower–pollinator interactions would contain pollination by various groups of pollinators, preferably both diurnal and nocturnal, including both vertebrates and invertebrates, and sufficient evolutionary shifts among pollination modes.
Cactaceae are ideal for this type of study for a number of reasons:
manageable number of species
great diversity of habitats
diverse growth forms
adaptation to several pollinator guilds, including bimodal and generalized pollination
an increasingly solid phylogenetic base of data