Marco Aurelio Gonzalez Tagle, Javier Jimenez Perez:
Reconstructing Patterns in Fire Regimes from Fire-scar in Mixed Pine-Oak Forest, Northeast Mexico


1Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Institute of Silviculture, Germany
2University of Nuevo Leon, Departament of Silviculture, Mexico

Wildfire is a prevalent natural disturbance in most of the world`s forest ecosystems, (FALL, 1998, AGEE, 1991). Recently, scientists and forest managers have recognised the important role, fire plays in regulating forest ecosystems and maintenance of biodiversity. The effects of intense wildfires are a critical question in Mexico in respect to the year 1998, in which over 14,000 fires burned approximately 160,000ha of temperate and tropical forests, and 425,000ha of other vegetation types (SEMERNAP 1998).

In the case of Mexico, fire is a frequent phenomenon in many ecosystems and especially in protected areas such as national parks and biosphere reserves, where humans not influence natural processes. Fire in protected areas seems for many people as a controversial issue. Fire history reconstruction and also fire effects have been little studied in these ecosystems, therefore this research aims to reconstruct the actual status of forest fire history patterns and fire return intervals in mixed pine-oak forest in the Parque Ecológico Chipinque (PECH), Sierra Madre Oriental, Nuevo León in Mexico.

The historical frequency of fire in forests is computed by using the Mean Fire Return Interval (MFI). A chronosequence of natural fires occurring during more than 140 years has been reconstructed for PECH's forest by dendrochronology (determination of fire scars in annual rings of living trees). In the period from 1860 to 1998, five fire dates have been determined in 1624ha area of PECH. Fire samples were taken from living trees and as well from stumps of the species Pinus pseudostrobus and Pinus teocote, exhibiting fire history evidence. All this contributions trying to define fire management strategies oriented to improve ecological conservation and sustainable forest management in Mexico.

Keywords: Fire ecology, fire history, Mean Fire Return Interval


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Contact Address: Marco Aurelio Gonzalez Tagle, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Institute of SilvicultureBüsgenweg 1, 37077 Göttingen, Germany, e-mail:
Andreas Deininger, September 2004