Cathy Whitlock

Cathy Whitlock
Montana State University | MSU · Department of Earth Sciences

Doctor of Philosophy

About

245
Publications
52,708
Reads
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15,547
Citations
Additional affiliations
January 2011 - April 2016
Montana State University
Position
  • co-Director
January 2011 - April 2016
Montana State University
Position
  • co-Director, Montana Institute on Ecosystems

Publications

Publications (245)
Article
Hydrothermal explosions are significant potential hazards in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA. The northern Yellowstone Lake area hosts the three largest hydrothermal explosion craters known on Earth empowered by the highest heat flow values in Yellowstone and active seismicity and deformation. Geological and geochemical studies of eighteen...
Article
Full-text available
Significance Understanding how people have shaped landscapes requires detailed information on past changes in climate, vegetation, fire, and land use. The environmental and human history of four sites along the eastern Andes of southern South America (34–52°S) shows the changing influence of people and climate on landscape development over the last...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract and backgroundWidespread changes in forest structure and distribution have been documented in northern Patagonia over the past century. We employed LPJ-GUESS, a dynamic global vegetation model (DGVM) to investigate the role of climate, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), and fire on simulated forest cover during the twentieth century. Our ob...
Article
A composite 11.82 m-long (9876e-67 cal yr BP) sediment record from Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming was analyzed using a robust set of biological and geochemical proxies to investigate the paleoenvironmental evolution of the lake and its catchment in response to long-term climate forcing. Oxygen isotopes from diatom frustules were analyzed to reconstruct...
Article
Full-text available
Changes in climate and fire regime have long been recognized as drivers of the postglacial vegetation history of Yellowstone National Park, but the effects of locally dramatic hydrothermal activity are poorly known. Multi-proxy records from Goose Lake have been used to describe the history of Lower Geyser Basin where modern hydrothermal activity is...
Article
We aim to understand how did cool temperate rainforest respond to changes in climate and fire activity over the past 18 kcal yrs, interrogating the role that flammable plant species (such as Eucalyptus) have in the long-term dynamics of rainforest vegetation. We used high-resolution pollen and charcoal analysis, radiometric dating (lead and carbon)...
Article
Aim Although it is established that climate and fire have greatly influenced the long‐term ecosystem dynamics of Patagonia south of 40°S, the environmental history from northernmost Patagonia (37–40°S), where endemic and endangered monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) occurs, is poorly known. Here we ask: (a) What is the Holocene vegetation and...
Article
Full-text available
Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dating of pollen concentrates is often used in lake sediment records where large, terrestrial plant remains are unavailable. Ages produced from chemically concentrated pollen as well as manually picked Pinaceae grains in Yellowstone Lake (Wyoming) sediments were consistently 1700–4300 cal years older than ages es...
Chapter
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Fire history is the study of the spatial and temporal patterns of past wildland fires. Information on recent wildland fires comes from documentary records and satellite observations that span years to decades. On longer time scales, fire history is reconstructed from tree rings, including fire scars and the origin dates of postfire cohorts of trees...
Article
Volcanic and hydrothermal processes produce disturbances by diverse mechanisms and ecological responses are varied. New and published pollen records from the Northern Rocky Mountains and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem document the response of vegetation to three different types of volcanic and hydrothermal disturbances: (1) Pleistocene rhyolite lava...
Article
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Forest dynamics are driven by top-down changes in climate and bottom-up positive (destabilizing) and negative (stabilizing) biophysical feedbacks involving disturbance and biotic interactions. When positive feedbacks prevail, the resulting self-propagating changes can potentially shift the system into a new state, even in the absence of climate cha...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Hydrothermal explosions represent a significant potential hazard in Yellowstone and particularly in Yellowstone Lake. The northern part of the lake is an area within the Yellowstone Caldera characterized by high heat flow, recent faulting and seismicity, caldera deformation, landslides, and hundreds of active hydrothermal features, including severa...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The Hydrothermal Dynamics of Yellowstone Lake (HD-YLAKE) project seeks to understand the cause-and-effect relationships among tectonic, magmatic, and environmental processes within the hydrothermal basin underlying Yellowstone Lake. The lake floor hosts a variety of hydrothermal features, including acidic vapor-dominated fields, neutral-chloride li...
Article
Full-text available
Fire management around the world is now undergoing extensive review, with a move toward fire management plans that maintain biodiversity and other ecosystems services, while at the same time mitigating the negative impacts to people and property. There is also increasing recognition of the historical and anthropogenic dimensions that underlie curre...
Poster
Full-text available
Here, we present a 10,580-year history of vegetation, fire, climate, and land use from Laguna Portezuelo (37.9°S, 71.0°W; 1730 m elev.), located along the Araucaria araucana forest-steppe border in southern South America. We then compare the last 1000 years of paleoenvironmental history along a north-south flammability gradient from dry L. Portezue...
Article
Full-text available
Postglacial vegetation dynamics at high elevation from Fairy Lake in the northern Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Montana, USA – Corrigendum - James V. Benes, Virginia Iglesias, Cathy Whitlock
Article
Full-text available
The postglacial vegetation and fire history of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is known from low and middle elevations, but little is known about high elevations. Paleoecologic data from Fairy Lake in the Bridger Range, southwestern Montana, provide a new high-elevation record that spans the last 15,000 yr. The records suggest a period of tundra-...
Article
Conifer forests of the western US are historically well adapted to wildfires, but current warming is creating novel disturbance regimes that may fundamentally change future forest dynamics. Stand‐replacing fires can catalyze forest reorganization by providing periodic opportunities for establishment of new tree cohorts that set the stage for stand...
Article
Full-text available
Deforestation associated with the initial settlement of New Zealand is a dramatic example of how humans can alter landscapes through fire. However, evidence linking early human presence and land-cover change is inferential in most continental sites. We employed a multi-proxy approach to reconstruct anthropogenic land use in New Zealand's South Isla...
Article
Full-text available
Aim Reconstruct the long‐term ecosystem dynamics of the region across an elevational gradient as they relate to climate and local controls. In particular, we (1) describe the dominant conifers' history; (2) assess changes in vegetation composition and distribution; and (3) note periods of abrupt change versus stability as means of better understand...
Article
Full-text available
Mixed coniferous forests are widespread at middle elevations in the Northern Rocky Mountains, yet relatively little is known about their long-term vegetation and fire history. Pollen and charcoal records from Twin Lakes, in the Mission Range of northwestern Montana provide information on mixed-coniferous forest development and fire activity over th...
Article
The Yellowstone National Park ecosystem is a product of dynamic earth system processes, which have been of interest to scientists and the public since the park's discovery. Here, we outline the history of two successive generations of scientific collaboration in Yellowstone National Park. Early collaboration was spurred by the discovery of an unkno...
Article
Full-text available
Analyses of long-term ecosystem dynamics offer insights into the conditions that have led to stability vs. rapid change in the past and the importance of disturbance in regulating community composition. In this study, we (1) used lithology, pollen, and charcoal data from Mallín Casanova (47°S) to reconstruct the wetland, vegetation, and fire histor...
Article
Full-text available
High-resolution records of geochemical data from four lakes in the Greater Yellowstone region were used to investigate watershed and lake history during the late-glacial and early-Holocene periods. Clastic input to regional lakes was high and variable during the early stages of lake development, when the surrounding landscape was geomorphically uns...
Article
Full-text available
Quaternary records provide an opportunity to examine the nature of the vegetation and fire responses to rapid past climate changes comparable in velocity and magnitude to those expected in the 21st-century. The best documented examples of rapid climate change in the past are the warming events associated with the Dansgaard–Oeschger (D–O) cycles dur...
Article
Mountain ecosystems are characterized by their complex vegetation responses to past climate variability because of the interplay between large-scale climate changes and local-scale biotic and abiotic conditions. This study reconstructs the early postglacial expansion of conifer populations in the northern Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). The ob...
Article
Full-text available
Conservation efforts to protect forested landscapes are challenged by climate projections that suggest significant restructuring of vegetation and disturbance regimes in the future. In this regard, paleoecological records that describe ecosystem responses to past variations in climate, fire and human activity offer critical information for assessin...
Article
Pollen assemblages from 50 small hollows were used to resolve fire-caused vegetation patterns in a ~2-km² subalpine landscape on the Central Plateau of Tasmania, Australia. Sites were characterized by varying abundance of the dominant tree species, Athrotaxis cupressoides, reflecting mortality from a wildfire that occurred 53 years prior to samplin...
Article
Full-text available
Wildfires across western North America have increased in number and size over the past three decades, and this trend will continue in response to further warming. As a consequence, the wildland–urban interface is projected to experience substantially higher risk of climate-driven fires in the coming decades. Although many plants, animals, and ecosy...
Article
Invasive plant species that have the potential to alter fire regimes have significant impacts on native ecosystems. Concern that pine invasions in the Southern Hemisphere will increase fire activity and severity and subsequently promote further pine invasion prompted us to examine the potential for feedbacks between Pinus contorta invasions and fir...
Article
Full-text available
Quaternary records provide an opportunity to examine the nature of the vegetation and fire responses to rapid past climate changes comparable in velocity and magnitude to those expected in the 21st century. The best documented examples of rapid climate change in the past are the warming events associated with the Dansgaard-Oeschger (D-O) cycles dur...
Article
Full-text available
Invasive plant species that have the potential to alter fire regimes have significant impacts on native ecosystems. Concern that pine invasions in the Southern Hemisphere will increase fire activity and severity and subsequently promote further pine invasion prompted us to examine the potential for feedbacks between Pinus contorta invasions and fir...
Article
Vegetation reconstructions rest on modern vegetation–pollen rain relationships and deductive reasoning. Establishing this relationship is a nontrivial task because differences among pollen assemblages are not necessarily proportional to differences in vegetation. This task is particularly challenging in Patagonia, where some tree taxa have indistin...
Article
Mountain forest ecosystems in central Europe are a product of millennia of land use and climate change, and this historical legacy shapes their vulnerability to projected climate change and related disturbance regimes (e.g. fire, wind throw, insect outbreaks). The transitional and highly dynamic state of present-day forests raises questions about t...
Article
Full-text available
On centennial to millennial timescales fire regimes are driven by climate changes, vegetation composition and human activities. We reconstructed the postglacial vegetation and fire history based on pollen and charcoal data from a small lake in Cradle Mountain National Park and investigated the influence that climate, people, and vegetation had on p...
Article
Paleoenvironmental records from Patagonia reveal the importance of latitude, longitude and elevation in shaping the response of vegetation to climate change. We examined the vegetation, fire and watershed history from two sites at lat. 44°S, as inferred from pollen, charcoal and lithologic data. These reconstructions were compared with independent...
Article
The revegetation of islands following retreat of Pleistocene glaciers is of great biogeographical interest. The San Juan Islands, Washington, feature regionally distinctive xerophytic plant communities, yet their vegetation history, as it relates to past climate and sea level, is poorly known. We describe a 13,700-year-old pollen record from Killeb...
Research
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A white paper outlining important insights from wildfire science on seven key issues facing future fire policy decisions. http://headwaterseconomics.org/wildfire/insights
Article
Full-text available
A new global synthesis and biomization of long (> 40 kyr) pollen-data records is presented and used with simulations from the HadCM3 and FAMOUS climate models and the BIOME4 vegetation model to analyse the dynamics of the global terrestrial biosphere and carbon storage over the last glacial–interglacial cycle. Simulated biome distributions using BI...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Although much is known about the environmental history of the Yellowstone region, comparatively little is known about the vegetation and fire history of the Rocky Mountains of northwestern Montana. The Mission Range was intensively glaciated in late-Pleistocene time, and has been occupied by humans for at least 10,000 years. These two factors make...
Article
The Cascade Range of southwestern Oregon contains some of North America's most diverse forests, but the ecological history of this area is poorly understood. A 7900-yr-long pollen and charcoal record was examined to better understand past changes in vegetation and fire activity in relation to large-scale climate variability. From 7900 to 3500 cal y...
Article
Full-text available
Western Tasmania, Australia contains some of the highest levels of biological endemism of any temperate region in the world, including vegetation types that are conservation priorities: fire-sensitive rainforest dominated by endemic conifer species in the genus Athrotaxis; and fire-tolerant buttongrass moorlands. Current management focuses on fire...
Article
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Ecological niche models predict plant responses to climate change by circumscribing species distributions within a multivariate environmental framework. Most projections based on modern bioclimatic correlations imply that high-elevation species are likely to be extirpated from their current ranges as a result of rising growing-season temperatures i...
Article
Full-text available
A new global synthesis and biomization of long (>40 kyr) pollen-data records is presented, and used with simulations from the HadCM3 and FAMOUS climate models to analyse the dynamics of the global terrestrial biosphere and carbon storage over the last glacial–interglacial cycle. Global modelled (BIOME4) biome distributions over time generally agree...
Article
Full-text available
The relative importance of people and climate in shaping prehistoric fire regimes is debated around the world, and this discussion has helped inform our understanding of past and present ecosystem dynamics. Evidence for extensive anthropogenic burning of temperate closed-canopy forests prior to European settlement is geographically variable, and th...
Article
Full-text available
Fire is a key ecological process affecting vegetation dynamics and land cover. The characteristic frequency, size, and intensity of fire are driven by interactions between top-down climate-driven and bottom-up fuel-related processes. Disentangling climatic from non-climatic drivers of past fire regimes is a grand challenge in Earth systems science,...
Article
Fire history research allows us to understand fire dynamics within a broad temporal and spatial framework that provides ecological information not available from short-term observations. Methods to describe past fire activity include the use of historical documents, fire-scar tree rings, and forest stand age measurements over the past few centuries...
Article
Professor Herbert E. Wright passed away on November 12, 2015 in his 98 th year. His passing leaves many in Quaternary community reflecting on his enormous contributions to the discipline, as well as the many ways in which he touched our lives. Herb's legacy, writ large, is evidenced by decades of scholarly contributions to the fields of glacial geo...
Article
Full-text available
Forest/steppe boundaries are among the most dynamic ecosystems on Earth and are highly vulnerable to changes in climate and land use. In this study we examine the postglacial history of the Patagonian forest/steppe ecotone (41-43°S) to better understand its sensitivity to past variations in climate, disturbance, and human activity before European c...