Quercus acutifolia 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Fagales Fagaceae

Scientific Name: Quercus acutifolia Née
Common Name(s):
Spanish Encino de asta, Encino blanco, Encino laurelillo, Encino pepitillo, Encino rojo, Encino saucillo, Encino tepezcohuite
Quercus anglohondurensis C.H.Mull.
Quercus grahamii sensu A.DC.
Quercus montserratensis C.H.Mull.
Quercus tenuiaristata Trel.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A3bc ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-07-01
Assessor(s): Wenzell , K. & Kenny, L.
Reviewer(s): Oldfield, S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Beckman, E.
Quercus acutifolia is broadly distributed through central and southwestern Mexico, as well as into Guatemala, Belize and Honduras, from elevations of 1,000-2,500 m asl. Despite its wide-reaching distribution, this species is localized in temperate forests, which experience severe impacts from clear-cutting and destruction of habitat. Additionally, poor regeneration and projections of high vulnerability to climate change (24-41% range contraction circa 2050), indicate that this species is likely to face a population size reduction of at least 30% within the next 100 years. In light of these projections, Q. acutifolia is considered Vulnerable under A3bc.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Quercus acutifolia is distributed throughout central and southwestern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras. In Mexico, this species occupies middle elevations of the Sierra Madre Occidental and the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt between 1,000 and 2,500 m asl. Though it can be found in oak-pine and mixed forests, Q. acutifolia is often localized in moist ravines and gullies. Nonetheless, this species' distribution spans a wide area, with an estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) of over 1,272,000 km2. A species distribution model has estimated the present potential distribution of Q. acutifolia at 95,885 km2 (Gomez-Mendoza and Arriaga 2007).
Countries occurrence:
Belize; Guatemala; Honduras (Honduras (mainland)); Mexico (Chiapas, Colima, Guerrero, Jalisco, México State, Michoacán, Morelos, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Puebla, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Veracruz)
Additional data:
Lower elevation limit (metres):1000
Upper elevation limit (metres):2500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Though the population size of Quercus acutifolia is unknown and the species is not currently considered highly restricted, several factors indicate that a reduction in population size is likely to take place in the near future. First, this species is experiencing low regeneration due to high seedling mortality, which has been attributed to stress from insufficient moisture (Arizaga et al. 2009, Kappelle 2006). If this trend continues, it may lead to a decline in population size as mature trees age and die, if few seedlings survive to replace them.

Second, a recent study, which modelled changes in species distribution under climate change projections for the year 2050, found Q. acutifolia to be highly vulnerable to climate change (Gomez-Mendoza and Arriaga 2007). This study projected that Q. acutifolia may experience a range contraction of 24-41% (32.5% when averaged) based on conservative and severe climate change scenarios, respectively - rates which were among the highest of the 17 oak species examined. It should be noted that these values are based on climate projections for the year 2050, suggesting that if similar trends in climate and species response continue beyond 2050, i.e., 100 years into the future (as described by criterion A3), expected declines in distribution may be greater still.

Given threats to the population size (low regeneration and high seedling mortality) as well as declines in area of occupancy (AOO), extent of occurrence (EOO) and habitat quality due to climate change-driven decreases in suitable habitat, in addition to ongoing destruction of its habitat of oak and pine forests (which continues at a high rate in Mexico and Central America), this species is likely to experience a severe decline in population size within the next 100 years. In light of this, it is reasonable to project a reduction in the population size of Q. acutifolia of at least 30% within the next 100 years. Therefore, Q. acutifolia qualifies as Vulnerable under A3bc.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Quercus acutifolia is a tree that typically reaches 10-40 m in height with a trunk 15-100 cm in diameter. The leaves are deciduous or late deciduous, with acute leaf tip and marginal teeth, which lend the species its epithet. This is a localized species that grows at mid-elevations (1,000–2,500 m asl) throughout the Sierra Madre Occidental and the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. This species occurs in oak, pine-oak and mixed forests, often in open woods on wet slopes and plateaus, as well as in moist ravines and gullies alongside mesic species like Fagus spp., Magnolia spp. and Podocarpus spp. It is known to grow in volcanic acid soils as well as those of limestone, clay or deep loam. Mortality of seedlings has been reported for this species, attributed to moisture stress during dry years and at open germination sites, rather than those more protected in the understory.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):50

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Quercus acutifolia produces a hard wood, which is used locally as firewood and charcoal, as well as for tools, fence posts, and small-scale building and construction materials. The bark can be used medicinally for the treatment of burns.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Climate change poses a major threat to Quercus acutifolia, as evidenced by a recent study that identified the species as highly vulnerable to range contractions under multiple climate scenarios, projecting declines in distribution of up to 41% under projections for 2050 (Gomez-Mendoza and Arriaga 2007). Additionally, reports of poor regeneration and high seedling mortality, particularly under moisture stress which is likely to be exacerbated by climate change, underscore ongoing and future threats to the species. Furthermore, Q. acutifolia's habitat of temperate oak and pine-oak forests of Mexico and Central America continue to face high rates of deforestation and habitat destruction, due to the impacts of commercial logging and clearing of land for agriculture and grazing of livestock.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: While Quercus acutifolia is not currently a principle target of ongoing conservation or active management programmes, the study that identified Q. acutifolia as an oak species highly vulnerable to climate change also asserted the importance of species-based conservation efforts (such as ex situ conservation and gene resource banking) in addition to land and habitat protection (Gomez-Mendoza 2007). Additionally, Q. acutifolia is reported to exist in 15 current ex situ collections, according to BGCI. Nonetheless, given the severity of declines in population size projected for this species, additional action is required, including protection of habitat, research into the causes of poor seedling survival, and most importantly actions to curb the rate and severity of global climate change.

Citation: Wenzell , K. & Kenny, L. 2015. Quercus acutifolia. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T78803712A78803830. . Downloaded on 21 January 2018.
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