Michiel Pillet | Desert Botanical Garden


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Michiel Pillet

IUCN SSC Cactus and Succulent Plants Specialist Group Program Officer


B.S., Montana State University, 2014

Email: mpillet@dbg.org


  • Conservation ecology of cacti and succulents
  • Plant range dynamics
  • Plant population dynamics
  • Climate change impacts of plants
  • Stakeholder engagement in conservation
  • Horticulture of cacti and succulents


As Program Officer for the International Union for Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission Cactus and Succulent Plants Specialist Group (IUCN SSC CSSG), I support CSSG’s conservation mission through administrative work, outreach via the Newsletter and social media, GIS mapping, and reviewing Red List assessments. I am currently finishing up my Ph.D. at The University of Arizona in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, where I broadly work on cactus conservation ecology.

A major focus of my research is the impacts of climate change on cactus species distributions. Species distribution models indicate that the majority of the cactus family will lose part of their range under climate change. The troubling conservation status of many cacti necessitates stakeholder engagement to work toward a positive conservation outcome. I serve on the Cactus and Succulent Society of America Conservation Committee, and have given over a dozen lectures on cactus conservation. I also work on the issue of illegal trade, and am a member of the IUCN SSC Succulent Plant Illegal Trade Task Force. I’ve been growing succulents for almost twenty years, and spent most of my free time in my greenhouses.


Pillet, M., 2024. Het behoud van cactussen in een veranderende wereld – wat kunnen we doen? Succulenta.

Davis, T. and Pillet, M., 2023. Don’t tell me, show me: the importance of maintaining data in cultivated plants. Cactus and Succulent Journal. doi: 10.2985/015.095.0313.

Villlalobo, A., Pena, C., Varas-Myrik, Goettsch, B., Pillet, M., Jahnsen, P., Pliscoff, P., Guerrero, P., 2023. Impulsores antropogenicos y abioticos del aumento del riesgo de extinción de Copiapoa (Cactaceae). Master’s thesis, Universidad de Concepción, Chile.

Pillet, M., 2023. Prickly prospects for cacti under climate change. TheScienceBreaker. doi: 10.25250/thescbr.brk715.

Pillet, M., 2022. Prickly prospects for cacti under climate change. British Cactus and Succulent Society December 2022 eNews.

Pillet, M., Goettsch, B., Merow, C., Maitner, B., Feng, X., Roehrdanz, P., Enquist, B., 2022. Elevated extinction risk of cacti under climate change. Nature Plants. doi: 10.1038/s41477-022-01130-0.

Feng, X., et al., 2022. A review of the heterogeneous landscape of biodiversity databases: opportunities and challenges for a synthesized biodiversity knowledge base. Global Ecology and Biogeography. doi: 10.1111/geb.13497.

Schultz, E., Hulsmann, L., Pillet, M., Hartig, F., Breshears, D., Record, S., Shaw, J., DeRose, J., Zuidema, P., Evans, M., 2021. Climate-driven, but dynamic and complex? A reconciliation of competing hypotheses for species’ distributions. Ecology Letters. doi: 10.1111/ele.13902.

Enquist, B., et al., 2019. The commonness of rarity: Global and future distribution of rarity across land plants. Science Advances. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz0414.

Pillet, M., Joetzjer, E., Belmin, C., Chave, J., Ciais, P., Dourdain, A., Evans, M., Herault, B., Luyssaert, S., Poulter, B., 2018. Disentangling competitive versus climatic effects on tropical forest mortality. Journal of Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.12876.

Joetzjer, E., Pillet, M., Ciais, P., Barbier, N., Chave, J., Schlund, M., Maignan, F., Barichivich, J., Luyssaert, S., Herault, B., von Poncet, F., Poulter, B., 2017. Assimilating satellite-based canopy height within an ecosystem model to derive above ground forest biomass. Geophysical Research Letters. doi: 10.1002/2017GL074150.

Hansen, A., Ireland, K., Legg, K., Keane, R., Barge, E., Jenkins, M., Pillet, M., 2016. Complex challenges of maintaining whitebark pine in Greater Yellowstone under climate change: A call for innovative research, management, and policy approaches. Forests. doi: 10.3390/f7030054.

Google Scholar profile: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=Y7Y2MxsAAAAJ&hl=en