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food, whereas others feed on a variety of organisms. Where else can you find white-tailed deer eating fruits dropped by spider monkeys and coyotes foraging side by side with jaguars? Moreover, the Santa Rosa dry forest has the only wind-pollinated legume (Janzen, in press a), the fiercest ant-plant mutualism (Janzen, 1966), and an enormous seasonal pulse of caterpillars that changes to a nearly total absence of caterpillars while the host plants are still in full leaf (Janzen, in press b). If you want a plantation timber tree that will grow throughout the year in a tropical rain forest, yet withstand the droughts produced by agricultural clearing, look to dry forest trees rather than to rain forest trees. The dry forest is also the parental climate for many major tropical crops and food animals such as cebu cattle, chickens, cotton, rice, corn, beans, sweet potatoes, sorghum, and pasture grasses (Janzen, 1986b).
Rather than focusing just on lists of species, tropical conservationists should also concentrate on saving interactions among species. What good are such interactions? Interactions make wildlands interesting, and they provide the raw materials used by the natural historian to construct the stories and the visions that are the real value of the natural world to humanity (Janzen, 1986b).
The conservation world has by and large failed to exploit the real enticements of the areas it conserves. Tropical forests can be likened to libraries and books. The value of a book is not measured by the number of words it contains or even by the number of kinds of words it contains. Put most simply, how long will the public continue to support a library whose goal is to have enormous holdings but no card catalog, no librarians, and thus no readers. Such a library is doomed to fail during the next paper shortage or governmental budget cut. Books are also comparable to the species in the dry forest in that they have little meaning except in context. The context of the dry forest is unique because of its species; it was once widespread and certainly has as much potential for biocultural development as does any type of tropical vegetation. It is this context that we must save.
The likelihood of long-term survival of a conserved wildland area is directly and strongly proportional to the economic health and stability of the society in which that wildland is imbedded. The farm- and ranchland once occupied by dry forest often sustains economically strong regional subcultures, which can thrive without the need to exploit the conserved area. Land blessed with conservation status in such a subculture has a much higher chance of survival than do the more abundant wildlands in frontierlike subcultures, many of which are also based on marginal farmland.
Overemphasis on the length of species lists is also potentially misleading, because the extraordinary peaks in species richness encountered at certain sites can be highly atypical. They are very interesting ecologically but are not representative of the tropics as a whole. They may not even be representative of the site itself, since many of the species-rich sites bear accumulations of strays at the overlap between several less species-rich habitats. Furthermore, the remaining sites of very great endemism and extraordinarily extensive species richness are often sites with peculiar physical characteristics that render them less likely to be occupied by humans at present and therefore easier to conserve. The apparently successful conservation of such areas gives a feeling of accomplishment that makes it easier