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Araucaria araucana

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
PLANTAE TRACHEOPHYTA PINOPSIDA PINALES ARAUCARIACEAE

Scientific Name: Araucaria araucana
Species Authority: (Molina) K.Koch
Common Name(s):
English Monkey Puzzle
Spanish Pino Araucana, Araucaria, Pino Chileno, Piñonero
Synonym(s):
Pinus araucana Molina

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B2ab(ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2011-08-22
Assessor(s): Premoli, A., Quiroga, P. & Gardner, M.
Reviewer(s): Thomas, P. & Farjon, A.
Justification:
Araucaria araucana has an actual area of occupancy (AOO) of 392.51 km² which falls within the threshold for Endangered under criterion B2. Within the Andes and the Coastal Cordillera of Chile the population is severely fragmented and there is a continuing decline in its AOO due to a range of debilitating factors including fire, logging and overgrazing. Consequently it is assessed as EN B2ab(ii,iii,v).
History:
2000 Vulnerable
1998 Vulnerable (Oldfield et al. 1998)
1998 Vulnerable
1997 Vulnerable (Walter and Gillett 1998)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Native to south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina where it has a relatively limited distribution spanning three degrees of latitude from 37º20' to 40º20'S (Veblen et al. 1995). Its distribution is split between the main area straddling both sides of the Andes and two other disjunct small subpopulations in Cordillera de Nahuelbuta in Chile. The total actual area of occupancy (AOO) in Argentina and Chile is 392.51 km2.

Chile: It occurs from Region VIII (Province Biobío, 37º20’S) south to Region X (Province Valdivia, 40º20’S). In this area it has an actual AOO of 253.71 km2 (Echeverría et al. 2004) with 97% of the population in the Andes. The small subpopulations in the coastal Cordillera de Nahuelbuta in Regions VIII and IX  are between 37º40’S and 38º29’S and have an AOO of 74.35 km² (Echeverría et al. 2004). The northern coastal subpopulation (37º44’S and 37º51’S) is predominantly in Parque Nacional Nahuelbuta and the smaller southern subpopulation (38º26’S to 38º29’S) is located at Villa Las Araucarias.

Argentina: It is restricted to the Province of Neuquén where it occurs between Lake Aluminé and Lago Lolog; it occurs continuously between 38º40'to 39º20'S, but disjunct stands can be found as far north as 37º50'S (Rechene 2000). It has an actual AOO of 138.80 km2 (Anonymous 2004).


Countries:
Native:
Argentina (Neuquén); Chile (Biobío, La Araucania, Los Lagos)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:

The main subpopulation is confined to the Andes, with most of the stands on the western slopes in Chile. In Argentina they are confined to a narrow strip about 200 km in length; the most important forests are 30 to 50 km wide and 150 kilometres long. The eastern-most stands occur as isolated groups (Burns 1993) which are probably remnants of an earlier, wider distribution. These fragmented stands show high levels of genetic variation (Bekessy et al. 2002, Marchelli et al. 2010) and these rear edge subpopulations are considered to be 'disproportionally important for the long-term conservation of genetic diversity' (Hampe and Petit 2005). The coastal cordillera of Chile has two small subpopulations, one mostly confined by Parque Nacional Nahuelbuta and the smaller southern, unprotected site of Villa Las Araucarias. This latter subpopulation is also significantly genetically differentiated (Bekessey et al. 2002).

Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: In the Andes, Araucaria occurs from the upper timber-line at ca. 1,500 to 1,800 m, down to 900 m with scattered individuals as low as 600 m (Veblen et al. 1995). The forests occur on soils derived from volcanic ash deposits (Casertano and Lombardi 1963) or on well-developed soils derived from metamorphic and sedimentary rocks (Peralta 1980). It can form relatively extensive pure stands often on steep volcanic slopes or in association with temperate rainforest species including Nothofagus antarctica, N. dombeyi, N. pumilio and Saxegothaea conspicua (Hechenleitner et al. 2005), however its most common forest type in the Andes is over a sub-canopy of Nothofagus pumilio (Veblen 1982). In the northern subpopulation in the Nahuelbuta Cordillera (southern central Chile) the species occurs at its highest coastal altitude of 1400 m and grows with N. obliqua and N. pumilio while the southern subpopulation occurs at an altitude of 600 m in a highly disturbed landscape dominated by mixed forests of Nothofagus spp. and exotic tree species (Hechenleitner et al. 2005). In Argentina it forms pure stands at between 900 and 1,800 m (Rechene 2000), but it is commonly associated with Nothofagus antarctica or N. pumilio (Funes et al. 2006), in Parque Nacional  Lanin 49% of the forest is associated with Nothofagus pumilio and N. dombeyi. Towards the east of its range in Argentina where the rainfall is less (between 1,000 to 1,500 mm) it occurs with Austrocedrus chilensis, Lomatia hirsuta and shrubby species of the steppe vegetation (Burns 1993).

Its ecology is disturbance-driven, mainly by the effect of volcanoes, fire, landslides, snow avalanches and wind. In order to survive such disturbances it has developed effective adaptations, such as thick bark and epicormic buds (Burns 1993, Veblen 1982). A. araucana is predominantly dioecious and its seed is gravity-dispersed or assisted by Austral parakeets (Enicognathus ferrugineus) and other animals (Shepherd et al. 2008). Both seed and pollen are relatively heavy and may not disperse over large distances, although seed dispersal may be assisted by parakeets and other animals (Finckh and Paulsch 1995). Asexual reproduction by root suckering has been reported (Schilling and Donoso 1976), but it is unknown how important this process is to population maintenance and expansion (Veblen et al. 1995). It is a long-lived tree and specimens over 1300 years are not uncommon.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: A. araucana has light, soft, medium-weight wood which is used for lumber, flooring, paper pulp and ship-masts (Delmastro and Donoso 1980). Due to its listing on Appendix I of CITES there is no legal international trade in the timber; currently there is only local use in Argentina and Chile. The seeds are very rich in carbohydrates and proteins and were once an essential part of the diet of the indigenous people; the seeds are boiled or roasted, and their taste is similar to that of chestnuts. Today, the seeds are still eaten by local inhabitants, both the indigenous people and settlers. It is also highly prized as an ornamental tree in Europe (especially throughout Great Britain) and in parts of North America.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): About 60% of the Argentine Araucaria forests remain after deforestation (Veblen et al. 1999, Rechene 2000) and these forests are under continual threat and degradation: historically this has been caused by fire, logging and overgrazing. The frequency of fires has increased during the 20th century in order to establish agricultural and livestock activities (Marchelli et al. 2010) and this has resulted in severe fragmentation of Araucaria forests.  Today the most obvious sign of forest degradation is the lack of natural regeneration that, under normal conditions, follows a ‘pulse’ pattern of highly productive seed years followed by less productive ones (Gallo et al. 2004). Many forests are subject to intensive human use in the form of seed collecting and animal grazing, Araucaria trees are poor at regenerating, and any regeneration that does occur is principally asexual with trees sprouting from roots (Gallo et al. 2004). There are severe threats to Araucaria araucana in the north of its range in Argentina, due to the establishment of plantations of exotic tree species within these native stands (A.C. Premeoli pers. comm.). In Chile the main threat is anthropogenic fires: large areas in several national parks have been destroyed within the last 25 years.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Araucaria araucana is listed on Appendix I of CITES which strictly regulates the trade in its timber and seeds. The listing was approved in Chile in 1979 and transferred from Appendix II to Appendix I in Argentina in 2000 (Anonymous 2000). It is listed as a Natural Monument in Chile which gives it legal protection against logging. Approximately, 65.9% of the forests in the Coastal Range are within private properties, and the State (SNASPE) protects only 34.1% (Echeverría et al. 2004). The subpopulation in Villas Las Araucarias, which has unique genetic characteristics, is currently unprotected by the State (Bekessy et al. 2002, Echeverría et al. 2004 ). There are several Chilean private initiatives which are helping to protect Araucaria forests and these include Parques Para Chile and Reserva Nasampulli. In Argentina most stands have some form of protection, especially in Parque Nacional Lanín and Nahuel-Huapi. However, small and fragmented stands towards the eastern range in Argentina which are as genetically diverse as those on the Andes, occur outside protected areas and deserve particular attention (Marchelli et al. 2010).  In Chile, the Villa Las Araucarias forest restoration project is restoring a severely degraded four hectare site (Echeverría et al. 2004). The natural regeneration and survival of Araucaria araucana needs to be urgently evaluated.
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Citation: Premoli, A., Quiroga, P. & Gardner, M. 2013. Araucaria araucana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 25 October 2014.
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