New Forests

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 297–309 | Cite as

Climate-based seed zones for Mexico: guiding reforestation under observed and projected climate change

  • Dante Castellanos-Acuña
  • Kenneth W. Vance-Borland
  • J. Bradley St. Clair
  • Andreas Hamann
  • Javier López-Upton
  • Erika Gómez-Pineda
  • Juan Manuel Ortega-Rodríguez
  • Cuauhtémoc Sáenz-Romero


Seed zones for forest tree species are a widely used tool in reforestation programs to ensure that seedlings are well adapted to their planting environments. Here, we propose a climate-based seed zone system for Mexico to address observed and projected climate change. The proposed seed zone classification is based on bands of climate variables often related to genetic adaptation of tree species: mean coldest month temperature (MCMT) and an aridity index (AHM). The overlay of the MCMT and AHM for the 1961–1990 period resulted in 63 climate-based zones. Climate change observed over the last three decades has resulted in an increase of + 0.74 °C for MCMT and a shift toward overall drier conditions across Mexico. By the 2050s, MCMT is expected to increase by + 1.7 °C and AHM shifts further towards drier conditions. We recommend moving seed sources from warm, dry locations towards currently wetter and cooler planting sites, to compensate for climate change that has already occurred and is expected to continue for the next decades. We contribute a straight-forward climate-based seed zone system that allows practitioners to match seed procurement regions with planting regions under observed and anticipated climate change. Our transfer recommendations using climate-based zones can be implemented within the existing seed zone system, which often span large climate gradients.


Climate change adaptation Reforestation Seed zones Seed transfer guidelines 



This paper is an undertaking of the Forest Genetic Resources Working Group/North American Forest Commission/Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. Funding was provided to CSR by the Mexican National Forest Commission (CONAFOR; special thanks to Jesús Carrasco-Gómez, Alfredo Arciniega-Mendoza, Fernando Miranda-Piedragil, Yanet B. García-Cruz and Cinthya V. Velarde-Nuño), an NSERC Discovery Grant (#330527) to AH, and Mexican Council of Science and Technology (CONACyT) scholarships to DCA (#253855) and to EGP (#291197). Valuable comments of the journal assigned Associated Editor and two anonymous reviewers helped to improve significantly the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dante Castellanos-Acuña
    • 1
  • Kenneth W. Vance-Borland
    • 2
  • J. Bradley St. Clair
    • 3
  • Andreas Hamann
    • 1
  • Javier López-Upton
    • 4
  • Erika Gómez-Pineda
    • 5
  • Juan Manuel Ortega-Rodríguez
    • 6
  • Cuauhtémoc Sáenz-Romero
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Renewable ResourcesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.The Conservation Planning InstituteCorvallisUSA
  3. 3.USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research StationCorvallisUSA
  4. 4.Postgrado en Ciencias ForestalesColegio de PostgraduadosTexcocoMexico
  5. 5.Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias y Forestales, Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo (IIAF-UMSNH)MoreliaMexico
  6. 6.Facultad de Biología, UMSNHCiudad UniversitariaMoreliaMexico

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