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Palms play important and often multiple roles in the economies of many tropical and subtropical countries. This collection of twenty-one papers is divided into four sections: a taxonomic overview of palms; the reproductive biology, ecology, and physiology of certain economically useful palms; the utilization of palms; and the conservation of palms. Ethnobotanical and domestication studies of palms are particularly well represented.
For nearly four decades, Dr. Michael Balick has studied the relationship between plants and people, working with traditional cultures in tropical, subtropical, and desert environments. He is a specialist in the field known as ethnobotany, working with indigenous cultures to document their plant knowledge, understand the environmental effects of their traditional management systems, and develop sustainable utilization systems—while ensuring that the benefits of such work are always shared with local communities. Dr. Balick also conducts research in New York City, studying traditional healing practices in ethnic communities of the urban environment. In addition to ethnobotany, Dr. Balick is an expert on the palm family, an economically important family of plants in the tropics. His scientific research has taken him to many countries including Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Federated States of Micronesia, Haiti, Honduras, India, Israel, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, Sri Lanka, Trinidad, Thailand, Vanuatu, and Venezuela. His fieldwork also includes trips to the fruit and vegetable markets and botanicas of New York City. Dr. Balick currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, Fordham University, and City University of New York. He is an active mentor to postdoctoral, masters, and international fellowship students. He was a co-founder of a course that taught herbal medicine to practicing physicians and other health care professionals, run in collaboration with Colombia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons and the University of Arizona Program in Integrative Medicine, for a decade, and currently teaches an ethnobotany course at Columbia University. Michael Balick's Author Page