Exploitation and conservation of ironwood (Olneya tesota) in the Sonoran desert

Humberto Suzán, Duncan T. Patten, Gary P. Nabhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


An increasing trend in desert ironwood (Olneya tesota) exploitation in Sonora has affected the population structure, growth, and recruitment of this species near the Gulf of California in the Sonoran desert. In a survey of protected and unprotected sites in Mexico and the United States, we determined that the damage has resulted in a significant reduction in the amount of shaded area for the plant communities. Exploitation is highest in the Mexican stands near the international border, but high basal area percentages of damaged trees were detected in protected areas in both the United States and Mexico. One area of particular interest is the administrative boundary of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (ORPI) with Mexico, where harvesting of ironwood in the border creates a boundary effect with the ironwood populations that inhabit both sides of the ORPI border. Harvesting of ironwood is for firewood, charcoal, and wood carving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)948-957
Number of pages10
JournalEcological Applications
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1997


  • Allometry
  • Biosphere Reserves
  • Border effects
  • Charcoal
  • Ironwood
  • Ironwood carvings
  • Population structure
  • Sonoran Desert

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology


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