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Conservation Assessment of Guaiacum sanctum and Guaiacum coulteri: Historic Distribution and Future Trends in Mexico

López-Toledo, Leonel, Gonzalez-Salazar, Constantino, Burslem, David F.R.P., Martinez-Ramos, Miguel
Biotropica 2011 v.43 no.2 pp. 246-255
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, Guaiacum sanctum, adults, extinction, forest trees, habitat destruction, habitats, models, population density, population size, rapid methods, risk, Mexico
Guaiacum sanctum and Guaiacum coulteri are long-lived Mesoamerican timber tree species heavily exploited throughout their range and considered to be at risk of extinction. Both species are included on the IUCN Red List and on CITES Appendix II, but there has been no formal assessment of the conservation status of either species. We used ecological niche modeling and rapid assessments of local density and population size structure to provide such evaluations. For the year 2000, we estimated geographic range sizes for G. sanctum and G. coulteri of 95,422 and 130,973 km², respectively. The main core remaining habitat for G. sanctum occurs in Campeche State (Yucatan Peninsula), where populations exhibit high adult abundance and profuse regeneration. Several areas along the Mexican Pacific coast remain with suitable habitat for G. coulteri. Guaiacum coulteri is at greater risk as only 1.3 percent of its current habitat is protected, which contrasts with the 13.2 percent of current habitat protected for G. sanctum. We projected that available habitat for G. sanctum and G. coulteri will decline by a further 30-50 percent by 2020 if estimated habitat loss rates continue. We suggest that under the IUCN criteria, the conservation status of G. sanctum and G. coulteri should be updated to near threatened and vulnerable, respectively. Additionally, we conclude that the amount of protected habitat needs to be increased to safeguard both species. Our study provides a quantitative basis for updating the conservation status of both species and illustrates an assessment framework that could be applied to other threatened tree species. Abstract in Spanish is available at