Abstract

Dendrochronological studies are used to reconstruct some climatic variables; in México these studies have focused on central and northern temperate forests where trees present well defined annual rings. Few studies have been carried out in the southern part of the country where annual ring growth is not easily identified and thus makes cross-dating problematic. We analyzed the dendrochronological potential of Pinus oocarpa Schiede for reconstructing climatic variables in the northwest portion of Lagunas de Montebello, Chiapas. We used a selective sampling approach and collected 65 increment cores from 34 trees. While our samples showed a high frequency of false rings (8 to 60 %), we were able to date 30 samples from 22 trees (46 %) using standard dendrochronological techniques and developed total chronologies for total ring width, earlywood, and latewood for a period of 91 years (1925-2015). We found a significant influence of mean precipitation and mean maximum and minimum temperature over the annual ring growth of P. oocarpa in the period 1961-2004. Our results show that winter-spring precipitation (January-May) was the most important for the species’ annual ring growth. However, we found the highest correlation between spring (March-May) precipitation and the earlywood chronology (r = 0.719, P < 0.05). The earlywood chronology also showed potential for reconstructing minimum temperatures (March to May) (r = 0.732, P < 0.05), while the latewood chronology had the potential for reconstructing the maximum temperature (September to January) (r = 0.714, P < 0.05). These results showed that P. oocarpa can be used to reconstruct climatic variables in the Mexican tropics. We recommend that new areas with older trees should be explored in order to increase the depth of chronologies and reconstruct climate records several centuries into the past.