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Plant Focus

Quercus macdougallii
A rare oak endemic to the Sierra Juárez in Oaxaca

Climate Change Impacts on Oaks in Oaxaca

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John N. Williams, Raul Rivera, Hyeyeong Choe, Mark W. Schwartz, and James H. Thorne

Published May 2019 in International Oaks No. 30: 261–268


The state of Oaxaca (Mexico) is a center of oak diversity, and oak species are a major component of forested ecosystems in the state. Depending on elevation and microclimate, oaks in the central mountain regions are either dominant or codominant with pines in roughly 25% of the land area in Oaxaca – accounting for more area than any other single vegetation type. We modeled projected shifts in the climatic conditions of Oaxaca’s major vegetation types under climate change scenarios to assess probable increases in climatic exposure, or vulnerability, to these ecosystems. Here we examine how exposure is likely to increase in oak and mixed conifer-oak ecosystems, where exposure is defined as the future area extent of these ecosystems that is projected to exceed the climate conditions (temperature and precipitation) found across 95% of these ecosystems during the baseline period of 1980-2010. Under the current-track emissions scenario, these vegetation types are projected to increase in exposure area to between 11 and 13% for the near future (2015-2039) period and to between 32 and 36% for the end-century period (2075-2099). While oak and mixed conifer-oak ecosystems are projected to experience less exposure than the tropical ecosystems of the state, these rates are still high relative to baseline levels (5%), and merit efforts to mitigate climate change and develop adaptation strategies.


Quercus, oak forest, mixed conifer-oak forest


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