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Thomas Minckley

Department of Geography

Associate Professor

Ph.D., University of Oregon, Eugene, 2003

M.A., University of Oregon, Eugene, 1999

B.S., University of Arizona, Tucson, 1996

B.S., University of Northern Arizona, 1987

A&S Building, Room 331


Image of Thomas Minckley


Biogeography, Conservation, Paleoecology, Palynology, Fire Ecology, Natural Environments of the American West

Research Projects 

1) Resilience of arid and semi-arid ecosystems to disturbance;

2) Near-real time prediction of fire propagation to mitigate risk of communities and natural resource loss;

3) Understating spatial and temporal patterns of Holocene diversity development;

4) Conservation and environmental history of desert wetlands; 4) Natural Trap Cave, WY: examination of the landscape change during the last glacial period and the mega-fauna it supported;

5) Reimagination of the West: a prospective examination of the Colorado River Basin and its potential futures.

Research Emphasis

My regional focus is the water-stressed western North America. My projects are aligned with the conservation issues of the West the capacity of the ecosystems of the West to support the stresses of land-use change and growing populations and the resources they need. To this end I am co-editing a commemoration of the upcoming sesquicentennial of John Wesley Powell’s historic 1869 expedition down the Green and Colorado rivers—tentatively entitled, Vision & Place: John Wesley Powell and Reimagination of the Colorado River Basin. This book will explore how we might approach the next 150 years in the American West.

My perspective comes from the study of the long-term history of ecosystems, spanning thousands of years. My interest is how plant communities respond to environmental stress, like drought and fire. These stresses can affect biodiversity and might ultimately cause ecosystems to reorganize into new, novel plant associations or ecosystems. I primarily study arid and semi-arid ecosystems, which are may be vulnerable to changes in water availability. If we can understand how ecosystems have responded to disturbance in the past, we might be able to better manage these natural resources in the future.


1.      Pelton, S, M Kornfeld, ML Larson, TA Minckley. 2017. An absolute occupational chronology for Locality 1 of the Hell Gap Site, Wyoming, USA. Quaternary Research 88, 234-247

2.      Carter, VA, A Brunelle, TA Minckley, S Brewer, J Shaw, J DeRose, 2017 The effects of climate variability and fire on Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) 2000 to 4500 years ago from southeastern Wyoming, USA. Journal of Biogeography44, 1280-1293

3.      Commerford, JL, KK McLauchlan, TA Minckley. 2016. High dissimilarity with a multi-year annual record of pollen assemblages from a North American tallgrass prairie. Ecology and Evolution 6. 5273-5289

4.      Hendy, I, TA Minckley, C Whitlock. 2016. Expansion of Coastal Mangroves during Deglaciation: The interplay between coastal vegetation, sediment trapping and the oxygen minimum zone. Quaternary Science Reviews 145,152-160

5.      Kim, SL, BN Shuman, TA Minckley, JP Marsicek. 2016. Biogeochemical change during climate-driven afforestation: a paleoecological perspective from the Rocky Mountains. Ecosystems 19, 615-624. DOI: 10.1007/s10021-015-9955-9

6.      Minckley, TA, CJ Long. 2016. Paleofire severity and vegetation change in the Cascade Range, Oregon, USA. Quaternary Research 85, 211-217.


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1000 E. University Ave

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-3311


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