Date of Award


Semester of Degree


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. in Environmental and Forest Biology


Environmental and Forest Biology

Major Professor

Stewart Diemont

Steering Committee Member

Theresa Selfa

Steering Committee Member

Melissa Fierke


Many indigenous cultures use observations of the natural world to forecast the weather. This traditional system is important for reliable agricultural decision making. In Lacanja Chansayab, Chiapas, Mexico, the traditional system of rainfall forecasting is potentially threatened by the impacts of climate change. This research involved quantitative data collection on 20 indicators of rainfall in the farm fields and rainforests around an indigenous community and qualitative interviews with knowledgeable Lacandón Maya farmers. This study revealed several indicators are driven by environmental factors such as humidity and temperature, and that people often rely on information generated from multiple indicators to make weather-related decisions. Therefore, if climate change affects local temperature and humidity regimes, it is expected that this system of rainfall forecasting will remain useful.