Global Tree Conservation Research

Global Tree Conservation Research

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Understanding species is key for successful conservation. We collaborate with partners on relevant research in order prioritize species with the highest conservation needs, to identify knowledge and conservation gaps for rare species, to conduct surveys and spatial analyses to determine where species occur, lead ecological and genetic studies, and combine traditional ecological knowledge with science-based approaches.

IUCN Red List Threat Assessments for Priority Tree Species

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species is the globally recognized and standardized system for assessing the extinction risk of the world’s plant, animal, and fungal species.

Since 2015, The Morton Arboretum has worked in partnership with IUCN, the IUCN SSC Global Tree Specialist Group, and Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) to assess, review, contribute to, and facilitate IUCN Red List threat assessments for priority tree species globally.


Read the IUCN Red List Threat Assessment for Priority Tree Species >

Gap Analyses of At-Risk Tree Species

According to the Global Tree Assessment, three out of eight species are threatened with extinction. In the face of growing threats and with limited resources and time, it is critical to prioritize and coordinate conservation activities. One method used to facilitate these efforts is a conservation gap analysis.

A conservation gap analysis is a comprehensive evaluation of the successes and needs of the both the in situ (wild, within native habitat) and ex situ (within living collections or seed banks) populations. Gap analyses typically aim to characterize current knowledge of threats, identify gaps in ex situ and and in situ conservation, highlight current conservation activities, and systematically identify priorities and future needs.

Conservation Gap Analyses

Gap Analysis of Mesoamerican Oaks

59 threatened and data-deficient species of Mesoamerican oaks were analyzed to estimate the geographic and ecological representation of species in ex situ collections, identify threats, and prioritize conservation activities.

Using Spatial Analysis to Prioritize Areas for Conservation in Mexico

Mexico is the center of diversity for oaks (genus Quercus). Oaks occupy multiple habitats within the region, where they are often keystone species, shaping ecological relationships and providing multiple ecosystem services and economic benefits. Unfortunately, more than 25% of the species in the region are threatened with extinction. Understanding spatial distribution and identifying priority areas for species conservation is an important step towards preventing their loss. However, before prioritizing areas for conservation, it is necessary to know the distribution of the species.

For many of the oak species we do not yet know their distribution due to the lack of data availability. The objective of this project is to use species distribution models (SDMs) to determine their distribution. SDMs are widely used in ecology and conservation.  We are using these distribution moles to look for areas of conservation concern by  applying a multicriteria analysis. Multicriteria analysis provides a systematic approach for integrating risk levels and uncertainty, it helps decision makers to choose where to conserve areas. Under this framework, three criteria are commonly used in the delineation of priority areas for species conservation, i. spatial patterns of species richness (number of species in a site), ii. geographic rareness (degree of restriction of species to a geographic space), and irreplaceability (importance of areas containing exclusive species). The final outcome of this project will be a publication that stakeholders can use.

Learn more about this project >

Working with Botanic Gardens to Conserve the Trees of the United States


Montane Cloud Forest Conservation in Mesoamerica

Integrated Conservation of the Arroyo Oak in the Cabo Region, Mexico

Completed Projects