The six species of Opuntia found in the Galapagos are one of the principal sources of food for animals occupying areas of lowland. Tortoises and land iguanas eat the pads; doves, mockingbirds and iguanas eat the fruit; and finches eat the flowers, fruits and seeds, and obtain water from the succulent pads (8). Indeed Darwin was one of the first to notice the predilection of cactus finches for the fruits and flowers of Opuntia galapageia in particular (5). The animals that feed upon the fruit of Opuntias provide an indispensable service in dispersing the seeds stored within the nutritious flesh (8).
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