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OACN 2017 Year in Review

OACN members looking at Quercus insignis in the Mt. Uyuca Biological Reserve at Zamorano University in Honduras © Audrey Denvir

The Oaks of the Americas Conservation Network (OACN) is an interdisciplinary consortium of oak experts from universities, botanic gardens, arboreta, conservation NGOs, and industry and government agencies aiming to address the research and conservation needs for oaks in the Western Hemisphere. In the short time since its founding in 2016, OACN has been able to make important progress on a number of projects and initiatives focused on oaks in the Americas. Here is a review of some of the work OACN has completed in 2017:

Integrated Research and Conservation of Quercus brandegeei

This year, The Morton Arboretum and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM) completed a demographic study of and acorn collection from 11 populations of Q. brandegeei in Baja California Sur, Mexico (spanning the entire range of the species). In December, the project team sent hundreds of acorns to 12 botanical gardens in Mexico and the United States in order to build ex-situ collections of this endangered, endemic species with the help of Antonio Gonzalez Rodriguez at UNAM, Jeannine Cavender-Bares at University of Minnesota, Neil Gerlowski at Vallarta Botanical Gardens, and Tim Thibault at Huntington Botanical Gardens. 

Meeting at ATBC

In July, OACN held a satellite meeting at the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation Annual Conference in Merida, Mexico. Oak experts from Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, and the United States discussed the pressing conservation and research issues for oaks in these different countries.

The Red List of US Oaks

In July, The Morton Arboretum published the IUCN Red List assessments for all oak species in the United States and Canada. Next, the Arboretum aims to complete assessments for all Mexican oak species. If you can contribute information to these assessments or act as a reviewer, please reach out to Diana Jerome (djerome@mortonarb.org).

Workshop on the Taxonomy of Rare Mexican Oaks

In September, OACN held a workshop at the Botanic Garden of the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP) on the taxonomy of rare Mexican oak species. Thirty oak experts attended from across Mexico to discuss 16 rare oak species. During the workshop, participants advanced Red List assessments for these 16 species and completed a working list of all Mexican oak species for which The Morton Arboretum is still seeking input; to access the list, please contact Diana Jerome (djerome@mortonarb.org). 

Group photo in the Botanic Garden of the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla during the workshop on the taxonomy of rare Mexican oak species © Murphy Westwood

Workshop on the Conservation of Q. insignis and its Habitat

In October, OACN held a workshop on Q. insignis at Zamorano University in Honduras. Participants came from 5 different countries in North and Central America, and their expertise spanned research and conservation practice. This workshop was a first step towards increased international collaboration for research and protection of this rare species and its threatened habitat.

OACN Article and other Publications

Members continue to work on an article establishing OACN within the context of the overarching research and conservation needs of oaks in the Americas, based on the primary research of Dr. Hernando Rodriguez Correa. Moreover, 2017 proved to be a prolific year for oak publications, including: priority areas for oak conservation in Oaxaca, phylogeographic patterns for Central American oaksthe origins of major oak clades in the Americas, and many more.

In 2018, OACN is looking forward to continuing all of these efforts, as well as continuing to share and develop new ideas within our OACN network. This year the group plans to conduct greenhouse seedling survival experiments for Q. brandegeei, collect important and rare species in southern and eastern Mexico, and conduct reforestation experiments with Q. insignis in Veracruz.

If you are interested in joining OACN, please contact Audrey Denvir at adenvir@mortonarb.org.