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Department of Geology and Geophysics
1000 E. University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071-2000
Phone: (307) 766-4141
Fax: (307) 766-6679

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Dr. Thomas (Tom) Minckley



Office Phone: (307) 766-2925
Office: Earth Sciences Bldg. Rm 3020


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


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) Understanding spatial and temporal patterns of Holocene biodiversity development;
4) Conservation and environmental history of desert wetlands;
5) Natural Trap Cave, WY: examination of the landscape change during the last glacial period and the mega-fauna it supported;
6) Paleoecological perspectives on the vulnerability of arid-lands to climate change

Research Statement

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. 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.

Recent Publications

Co Editor: Vision & Place: John Wesley Powell & Reimagining the Colorado River Basin, 2020

Minckley, TA, MT Clementz, M Kornfeld, JB Finley, ML Larson 2021. Late Pleistocene environments of the Bighorn Basin Wyoming-Montana, USA. Quaternary Research 99, 128-141

Ott, CW, B Adhikari, SP Alexander, P Hodza, C. Xu, TA Minckley. 2020. Predicting Fire Propagation across Heterogeneous Landscapes Using WyoFire: A Monte Carlo-Driven Wildfire Model. Fire 3(4), 71

Haws, JA, MM Benedetti, CL Funk, NF Bicho, MJ Daniels, SL Forman, TA Minckley, RF Denniston. 2020. Late Pleistocene landscape and settlement dynamics of Portuguese Estremadura, Journal of Field Archaeology 45, 222-248

Rust, R, TA Minckley. 2020. Disturbance mediated diversity change in sub-alpine forests through the Holocene. Journal of Vegetation Science 31, 380-391

Nicholson, C, TA Minckley, JJ Shinker. 2019. Validating CCSM3 paleoclimate data using pollen-based reconstruction in the Intermountain West. Quaternary Science Reviews 222,

Long, CJ, JJ Shinker, TA Minckley, MJ Power, PJ Bartlein. 2019 7600 year vegetation and fire history from Anthony Lake, Northeastern Oregon, USA, Quaternary Research 91, 705-713

Edwards, CE, J Swift, RF Lance, T Minckley, DL Lindsay. 2019. Evaluating the efficacy of sample collection approaches and DNA metabarcoding for identifying the diversity of plants utilized by nectivorous bats. Genome 62, 19-29

Minckley, TA, N Felstead, S Gonzalez. 2019. Novel vegetation and the establishment of Chihuahuan Desert communities in response to Late Pleistocene moisture availability in the Cuatrociénegas Basin, NE Mexico. The Holocene 29, 457-466. 10.1177/0959683618816490

Brunelle, A, TA Minckley, JJ Shinker, J Heyer. 2018. Filling a Geographical Gap: New Paleoecological Reconstructions from the Desert Southwest, USA. Frontiers in Earth Science 6, 10.3389/feart.2018.00106

Brussel, T, TA Minckley, SC Brewer, CJ Long. 2018. Community-level functional interactions with fire track long-term structural development and fire adaptation. Journal of Vegetation Science 29, 450-458

Pelton, S, M Kornfeld, ML Larson, TA Minckley. 2018. A chronostratigraphic model for the Hell Gap Paleoindian site: Methods for refining chronologies at open stratified sites -- Response to commentary by V. Holliday and V. Haynes. Quaternary Research 90, 248-250

Pandey, S, TA Minckley. 2018. Modern pollen and vegetational relationships in the Sajnekhali Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Sundarbans, eastern India, Palynology

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, 234-2472.     

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

Teaching Statement

I have a strong commitment to teaching and feel that learning is a shared process between students and myself. I feel teaching provides the opportunity to expands one’s knowledge beyond their specialty and identify new ways of understanding the world. In the classroom I work on developing interactive course material that is student-centered. Through combinations of lectures and exercises, students are able to bring their own expertise into class discussions personalizing their education into experience. Effective learning comes from getting students involved and invested in subject matter. In the classroom I use recent research for my examples whenever possible. Using research personalizes the instructors’ investment and expertise for the class and shows that science is not static, but represents a dynamic and iterative process.


Geog/ENR 4040 – Conservation of Natural Resources
Geog 4460 – Biogeography
Geog 4080 – Management of Major Rivers
Geog 4470/5470 – Fire Ecology
Geog 4880/5880 – Quaternary Ecology
Geog 5060 – Landscape Ecology
Geog 4480/5880 – Vegetation History of the Intermountain West
Geog 4502/5502 – Images WY and West

Graduate Students

Austen Hawley (MA)
Benjamin Kraushaar (MA)
Cory Ott (MA)

Graduated Students

Rica Fulton (MA, 2019)
Shannon Mazzie (MA 2018)
Robert Rust (MA 2017)
Elizabeth Dilbone (MA 2017)
Thomas Brussel (MA 2015)

Contact Us

Department of Geology and Geophysics
1000 E. University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071-2000
Phone: (307) 766-4141
Fax: (307) 766-6679

Geology & Geophysics Logo

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