Conserving the Brandegee oak in Baja California Sur

The Morton Arboretum, La Universidad Nacional Autonomo de Mexico and Jardin Botanico de Vallarta are working on a project to research what is preventing regeneration of Quercus brandegeei in order to inform future conservation efforts.

Quercus brandegeei is an Endangered species of oak found only on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. It grows in ephemeral stream beds that fill up after hurricanes and has very distinct, elongate acorns.

Historically, ancestors to Quercus brandegeei were fairly widespread. Quercus brandegeei, however, is now confined to a very small range in Baja Sur. Moreover, the species’ future is severely threatened by lack of regeneration in the wild. Ecologists estimate that no new seedlings have established in at least 100 years, but the reason why this species is not regenerating remains a mystery. Factors that could be at play include drought caused by long-term climate change and seed predation by local cattle ranching.

The Global Trees Campaign, in conjunction with the Morton Arboretum, La Universidad Nacional Autonomo de Mexico and Jardin Botanico de Vallarta is working on a project to research what is preventing regeneration of Quercus brandegeei in order to inform future conservation efforts.

Staff from UNAM and the Morton Arboretum in the field

Researchers from UNAM and the Morton Arboretum in the field. Credit: Neil Gerlowski/Vallarta Botanical Gardens.

In the first year of this project, the Global Trees Campaign aims to carry out a comprehensive demographic study of this species to record population sizes, age dynamics and various environmental factors that may be impacting this species.

In addition, GTC aims to collect acorns to increase ex situ representation in Mexican gardens and for greenhouse propagation experiments. The data collected in these studies will be used to inform future reintroduction efforts of Quercus brandegeei in Baja California.

The project is supported by the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund

Credit for feature image: Antonio Gonzalez/UNAM.

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