Conservation gap analysis of Mesoamerican oaks: establishing priorities for conservation

ID: 613 / 389

Category: Abstract

Track: Pending

Proposed Symposium Title: Conservation gap analysis of Mesoamerican oaks: establishing priorities for conservation


Kate Good1, Allen Coombes2, Susana Valencia Avalos3, Maricela Rodríguez-Acosta4, Emily Beckman Bruns1, Silvia Alvarez-Clare1

Affiliations: 1. The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, USA 2. Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP), Puebla, Mexico 3. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City (UNAM), Mexico 4. The Global Conservation Consortium for Oak (GCCO), Mexico and Central America, Puebla, Mexico


Mesoamerica is a global center for oak biodiversity (genus Quercus), with an estimated 164 species in Mexico alone. Despite this incredible diversity, for many species, little is known regarding population size, trends, occurrence, or threats. There is an urgent need to coordinate and prioritize conservation action for both in situ and ex situ populations. We conducted a conservation gap analysis of 59 threatened and data deficient species of Mesoamerican oaks to estimate the geographic and ecological representation of species in ex situ collections.  For species without population-level genetic data, this is a useful proxy to estimate the genetic representation of ex situ collections. Between 2017 and 2022 we distributed surveys to ex situ institutions with a request for their Quercus accessions data. There were 196 institutions that reported living collections of at least one mesoamerican oak, a majority of which are in the United States (49%) and Europe (32%), with only 4% of the species having at least one collection in Mesoamerica. Twenty-four of our target species are not held in any ex situ collections, anywhere in the world. We found that only 2 of the 59 target species have ex situ collections that represent more than 50% of the species’ geographic range, and only 20 species have an ecological coverage greater than 50%.  Furthermore, approximately one fourth (16/59) of the target species have less than 10% of their native range within protected areas. These results highlight the urgent need for expanding survey and exploration work, increasing representation of oak species in botanic gardens and arboreta, particularly in Mexico and Central America, and  identifying priority regions to focus in situ conservation efforts, as well as priority activities for the members of the Global Conservation Consortium for Oak (GCCO).  

Symposia selection: 155, 32, 36

Key words: Conservation gap analysis; ex situ conservation; Global Conservation Consortium for Oak; in situ conservation; Mesoamerican biodiversity; oak conservation