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Phylogenetic tree
IOS members Paul Manos (Duke University) and Andrew Hipp (...
Andrew Hipp | Jun 16, 2021
Despite damage, the Lyytikkylä Oak is still the thickest...
Juha Fagerholm | Jun 10, 2021
Quercus cerris champion tree in spring 2016. Photo from Šušić et al. (2016)
In Serbian tradition, in almost every village or hamlet...
Nikola Šušić | Jun 10, 2021

Plant Focus

The Compton oak at Colonial Williamsburg
A natural hybrid between Quercus lyrata (overcup oak) and Q. virginiana (Southern live oak)

GCCO in the Americas

[To read this article in Spanish click here – Para leer este artículo en español haga click aquí]

The first joint meeting of the Global Conservation Consortium for Oak (GCCO) in the Americas took place on May 26th and June 2nd. Under the title “Building cross-border partnerships”, the meeting was co-organized by the GCCO US and the GCCO Mexico & Central America regions. Two meeting sessions were held: 1) GCCO US and Mexico and 2) GCCO Mexico and Central America. The main objective of the meetings was to promote collaboration between the US, Mexico, and Central America, with the purpose of joining efforts to focus on conserving the priority oak (Quercus) species shared between these oak diversity centers.

First meeting

During the first meeting, focusing on the US and Mexico regions, over 66 participants attended and heard from speakers Adam Black and Dr. Juan Encina. Adam, GGI-Gardens Program Coordinator, gave a very interesting presentation on the southwest Texas Red Oaks complex: "QuerChaos! Are Oak Conservation Efforts Properly Choosing What to Conserve Among Apparent Trans-Pecos Quercus Hybrid Complexes?" In this presentation, participants learned more about species of conservation concern in the Red Oak group (Sect. Lobatae), which occur in certain areas of the Trans-Pecos region and Mexico. They appear to be part of a hybrid complex, around which there is great confusion due to identification challenges. Adam stressed the need for better genetic characterization of this Red Oak complex in order to guide future conservation efforts of these priority oak species.

Adam Black presentation
Quercus tardifolia was one of the species discussed in Adam Black's presentation

Participants heard next from Dr. Juan Encina, Professor at Universidad Autónoma Agraria Antonio Narro, who presented on "The Current State of Knowledge of the Priority Quercus Species of the North of Mexico and South of the United States of America". He focused on 12 oak species, which are a part of the 33 species shared between the US and Mexico. Participants learned that these 12 species have a restricted distribution, four are Endangered, two Vulnerable, and three are Data Deficient, according to “ The Red List of Oaks 2020” report (Carrero et al., 2020). He explained the importance of increasing exploration efforts to collect more germplasm of these threatened and data-deficient oak species to learn more about their distribution, conservation status, and genetic makeup.

Juan Encina
Dr. Juan Encina discussing Quercus toumeyi occurrence in Mexico and U.S.


The information shared during this meeting identified and emphasized the need for collaboration between these two regions, in order to prioritize future conservation/research efforts and prevent extinction of these important oak species.

Amy Byrne
GCCO Coordinator, US Region

Second meeting

The second meeting session was attended by 43 participants, who listened to the lectures "The Oaks of the South of México", given by Dr. Susana Valencia-Ávalos, Faculty of Sciences Herbarium of the UNAM, and "Current State of Knowledge of the Priority Quercus species in Central America and Southern Mexico”, by Dr. Maura Quezada, Herbarium of the Center for Conservation Studies of the University of San Carlos, Guatemala.

Susana Avalos Presentation
Illustrations of Quercus depressa and Q. meavei in Dr. Susana Valencia-Ávalos's presentation 

Dr. Valencia-Avalos stressed the importance of oak diversity in the southern states of Mexico; together these states are home to 86 Quercus species, of which 27 are shared with Central America and 59 are endemic to Mexico. The presentation highlighted some important taxonomic problems in the Q. corrugata and Q. eugeniifolia complexes, which still require a taxonomic study to support their identity, acceptance, and consequently their distribution. Seven species from this area are classified as Endangered in “ The Red List of Oaks 2020” report (Carrero et al., 2020).

Maura Quezada presentation
Dr. Maura Quezada presents data on Quercus acutifolia in Central America

For Central America, Dr. Quezada mentioned 44 recorded species, of which 70% are shared with Mexico. At least half of the species have a distribution restricted to nuclear Mesoamerica (southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize). Likewise, at least 25% of the species are under some conservation risk, and another 25% do not present sufficient data to have an IUCN Red List threat assessment. As in Mexico, it is clear that in Central America there is a lack of information and a need for the collection of herbarium material and the taxonomic review of specimens for some species complexes. This will allow a meaningful evaluation of the species recorded for the region.

These presentations emphasized the importance and need for collaboration in order to advance these conservation efforts and to identify and resolve some of the challenges that were presented in Dr. Valencia-Avalos’s and Dr. Quezada’s presentations.

Actions such as field trips and sharing of data from herbaria, botanical gardens, and private collections will help resolve the many outstanding taxonomic problems. This will facilitate a more detailed evaluation of the degree of threat for the oak species native to this area. Based on this work, it will be possible to promote the development of ex-situ and in-situ conservation projects of the priority species.

Thank you to all the organizers, presenters, and attendees for making these important meetings possible, and please keep an eye out for upcoming information about next steps and future meetings of the GCCO US and GCCO Mexico & Central America.

Maricela Rodríguez
GCCO Coordinator, Mexico & Central America