Conservation of an endemic and Endangered oak tree in Baja California Sur, Mexico

Daniel Wblesther Perez Morales

Quercus brandegeei is an Endangered and endemic oak tree in Baja California Sur, Mexico. One-third of its 3,000 km² range is within a protected area, Sierra La Laguna Biosphere Reserve (SLLBR). During the past three years, we have collected data on Q. brandegeei to determine specific threats to the species and identify conservation and management actions needed to save it from extinction. Our data suggest that climate change, habitat degradation, and overgrazing by cattle are likely to be affecting populations and preventing regeneration. Because of this, we propose a scientifically-informed integrated conservation and management plan for this species that takes into consideration the socio-economic needs of local communities. A team of future conservationists will work together to implement this plan in collaboration with local land managers and stakeholders. We will use spatial-modeling and a Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) to identify priority areas for conservation and restoration. We will propagate seedlings in a nursery, and conduct enrichment plantings in strategic locations, ensuring that a new cohort of trees are growing safely for the first time in 100 years. We will distribute acorns to botanic gardens to promote ex situ conservation. With an educational plan, we will ensure that local stakeholders are informed, trained, and ready to contribute in saving this species from extinction.

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