Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt pine–oak forests

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Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt pine–oak forests
Pinus hartwegii forest.jpg
Popocatépetl, Puebla state
Trans-Mexican Vocanic Belt Pine-Oak Forests map.svg
Location of the ecoregion
BiomeTropical and subtropical coniferous forests
Area92,503 km2 (35,716 sq mi)
Conservation statusCritical/endangered[2]

The Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt pine–oak forests is a subtropical coniferous forest ecoregion of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt of central Mexico.


The Volcano rabbit inhabits the region

The Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt pine–oak forests occupy an area of 92,503 square kilometers (35,716 sq mi), extending from Jalisco state in the west to Veracruz in the east.

The main mass of the volcanic belt extends east to west through the states of Jalisco, Michoacán, México, Morelos, Tlaxcala, Puebla, and Veracruz. The ecoregion includes the smaller mountain ranges which rise from the Mexican Plateau, including the Sierra de Santa Rosa, Sierra de Lobos, and Sierra de Pénjamo in Guanajuato, and northwards to El Gogorrón National Park in San Luis Potosí.

The pine–oak forests are surrounded by tropical dry forests at lower elevations to the west, northwest, and south; the Jalisco dry forests to the west and southwest; the Balsas dry forests to the south in the basin of the Balsas River, and the Bajío dry forests to the northwest in the basin of the Río Grande de Santiago and the lower Rio Lerma. The Central Mexican matorral lies to the north of the range in the high basins of the Plateau, including the Valley of Mexico and the upper reaches of the Lerma around Toluca. The Tehuacán Valley matorral lies in the rain shadow valley to the southeast in Puebla and Tlaxcala states. To the east, the moist Veracruz montane forests and Oaxacan montane forests are the transition between the pine–oak forests and the lowland tropical forests along the Gulf of Mexico.

Pockets of montane grassland and shrubland can be found among the pine–oak forests, and constitute a separate ecoregion, the Zacatonal.


The chief plant communities are pine forests, pine–oak forests, oak forests, pine–cedar forests, and pine–fir forests. The plant communities vary with elevation and rainfall.

Pine forests are generally found between 2,275 and 2,600 m. Pine–oak forests occur between 2,470 and 2,600 m. Pine–cedar forests can be found above 2,700 m. Pine–fir forests occur above 3000 m.

In the pine forests, Montezuma pine (Pinus montezumae) is generally predominant, with smooth-bark Mexican pine (P. pseudostrobus) predominant in more humid areas, and Hartweg's pine (P. hartwegii) and P. tecote in dry areas with shallow soils.

Pine–fir forests are composed almost entirely of Hartweg's pine (Pinus hartwegii) and sacred fir (Abies religiosa).

Two species of oak are native to the western portion of the ecoregion. Quercus iltisii is found in the mountains of Jalisco and Colima.[3] Quercus cualensis is known only from the Sierra de Cuale in western Jalisco between 1,800 and 2,300 meters elevation, and is endangered.[4]


The Transvolcanic jay, (Aphelocoma ultramarina), Sierra Madre sparrow (Xenospiza baileyi) and the green-striped brushfinch (Atlapetes virenticeps) are near-endemic species, limited to the pine–oak forests of the Transvolcanic Range and the southern Sierra Madre Occidental. Other native birds include the great horned owl (Bubo virginianus), long-tailed wood partridge (Dendrortyx macroura), white-tipped dove (Leptotila verreauxi), Montezuma quail (Cyrtonyx montezumae), banded quail (Philortx fasciatus), northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus), and grey-barred wren (Campylorhynchus megalopterus).[2]

The volcano rabbit (Romerolagus diazi) and the Mexican volcano mouse (Neotomodon alstoni) are endemic to the ecoregion.

Monarch butterflies[edit]

The Volcanic Belt pine–oak forests of eastern Michoacán and western México states is the winter habitat of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus), which migrate from temperate regions of North America east of the Rocky Mountains. The Mariposa Monarca Biosphere Reserve is within this habitat.

Protected areas[edit]

17.85% of the ecoregion is in protected areas. Protected areas include:[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt pine-oak forests". DOPA Explorer. Accessed 7 September 2021. [1]
  2. ^ a b "Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt pine-oak forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.
  3. ^ Wenzell, K., Kenny, L. & Carrero, C. 2020. Quercus iltisii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T78924006A78966942. Accessed on 08 August 2022.
  4. ^ Wenzell, K., Kenny, L., Beckman, E. & Jerome, D. 2020. Quercus cualensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T194105A2299318. Accessed on 08 August 2022.