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ARS Home » Plains Area » Temple, Texas » Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #350645

Research Project: Resilient Management Systems and Decision Support Tools to Optimize Agricultural Production and Watershed Responses from Field to National Scale

Location: Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory

Title: Climate variability and trends in climate extremes in the priority conservation area El Tokio and adjacent areas in Northeastern Mexico

Author
item Baez-gonzalez, Alma - Instituto Nacional De Investigaciones Forestales Y Agropecuarias (INIFAP)
item Torres-meza, Maria - Instituto Nacional De Investigaciones Forestales Y Agropecuarias (INIFAP)
item Royo-marquez, Mario - Instituto Nacional De Investigaciones Forestales Y Agropecuarias (INIFAP)
item Kiniry, James

Submitted to: Weather and Climate Extremes
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/5/2018
Publication Date: 10/5/2018
Citation: Baez-Gonzalez, A.D., Torres-Meza, M.D., Royo-Marquez, M.O., Kiniry, J.R. 2018. Climate variability and trends in climate extremes in the priority conservation area El Tokio and adjacent areas in Northeastern Mexico. Weather and Climate Extremes. 22:36-47. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wace.2018.10.001.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wace.2018.10.001

Interpretive Summary: The El Tokio region in northeastern Mexico is a small but significant conservation area that holds the world’s last remaining colonies of the Mexican Black-tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys mexicanus) and many rare and endangered species of plants and animals and critical wintering habitat for some migrating grassland birds. El Tokio is a designated Grassland Priority Conservation Area for North America. While alarming changes in distribution and migration patterns of species existing in the study area have been reported, studies on the role of climate in these changes are scarce, partly because of the lack of climate information in the region. To fill this gap, a climatic characterization of ecoregions in this area was made, using historical data from weather stations, bioclimatic variables, climate indices, and geographic information systems. Climate change trends were also analyzed. Climate change trends detected in the northeastern part of the this region, where some prairie dog colonies are located, showed greater intensity of rain, but also longer dry periods during the year, while an adjacent ecoregion, which borders some colonies, showed trends of warmer winters, summers with fewer days with high minimum temperatures, and precipitation that is less in amount and intensity. The generated climate datasets and analyses will be essential input for biological studies and conservation programs for the species present in this biologically rich region under climatic change.

Technical Abstract: The El Tokio region and adjacent areas in Northeastern Mexico constitute relatively small but globally significant conservation areas as they hold the world’s last remaining colonies of the Mexican Black-tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys mexicanus) and many rare, endemic and endangered species of flora and fauna. These areas also provide critical wintering habitat for global grassland birds. El Tokio has been designated one of the Grassland Priority Conservation Areas in North America. While alarming changes in distribution and migration patterns of species existing in the study area have been reported, studies on the role of climate in these changes are scarce, partly because of the lack of climate information in the region. To fill this gap, a climatic characterization of ecoregions in El Tokio and adjacent areas was made, using historical data from weather stations, bioclimatic variables, climate indices, geographic information systems, and the software RClimDex 1.0 RCs. Climate change trends in ecoregions with 30-year climate data were also analyzed. Results show fourteen climate types in five ecoregions, mainly arid and semiarid temperate climates with mean annual temperatures 14 C to 18 C, coldest month temperatures -3 C to 8 C, hottest month temperatures <22 C, and winter precipitation 5% to 10% of total precipitation in arid areas and greater than 18% in semi-arid areas. Climate change trends detected in the northeastern part of the Plains of the Zacatecano-Potosino Plateau ecoregion, where some prairie dog colonies are located, showed greater intensity in precipitation, but also longer dry periods during the year, while the adjacent Sierra with Forests ecoregion, which borders some colonies, showed trends of warmer winters, summers with fewer days with high minimum temperatures, and precipitation that is less in amount and intensity. The generated climate datasets and analyses will be essential input for biological studies and conservation programs for the species present in this biologically rich region under climatic change.