Ph.D. • Assistant Professor
Department of Geography & Environmental Sciences

Mailing Address:
Dept. of Geography & Environmental Sciences
Campus Box 172
P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364

Physical Location:
Auraria Campus
North Classroom Building
Room 3514-B

Expertise Areas:
Paleoecology, Biogeography, Climate Change, Palynology

PhD 2008, MS 2003 -- University of Oregon (Geography)
BS 1999 -- University of Denver (Environmental Science)

I am a biogeographer and paleoecologist that grew up in the heart of the US Rocky Mountains, in beautiful Colorado. I have lived and studied in the Pacific Northwest, Montana, Texas, and even southeastern Australia (a biogeographers treasure chest). I spent a great deal of time in the outdoors, camping, skiing, hiking and fishing with family and friends, and through these experiences gained an appreciation and curiosity of the environment. I have a particular fascination with biodiverse regions and understanding the controls that have allowed them to develop and be maintained. My research interests are in the areas of vegetation and climate history and the role of disturbance, in particular fire, as a catalyst for environmental change during the Quaternary. Pollen, macrofossils and charcoal preserved in lake and wetland sediments, including their chemistry, are the main proxies that I use to reconstruct vegetation, fire and climate. I am also interested in the use of pollen as a geolocation tool in other arenas including in the authentication of food products such as honey and bee nutrition and foraging patterns. My work informs environmental policy and management, is applied and interdisciplinary, and has a strong field and laboratory component. My past and present investigations are located in the US, Australia and northern Vietnam, are experimental in nature, and address a number of important questions in the fields of paleoecology, ecology, geology, biogeography, palynology and forest management. I am the director of the Paleoecology, Palynology and Climate Change Laboratory.

Rathburn, S., Bennett, G., Wohl, E., Briles, C.E., McElroy, B., Sutfin, N. in press. Splitting the seams: The fate of sediment, wood and organic carbon eroded during an extreme flood, Colorado Front Range, USA. Geology.

Briles, C.E.. in press. Controls on Mountain Plant Diversity in Northern California: a 14,000 year Overview. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. Special Issue 2017 Mountains.

Kinoshita, A.M., Chin, A, Simon, G.L., Briles, C.E., Hogue, T.S., O’Dowd, A.P., Gerlak, A.K., Albornoz, A.U., 2016. Wildfire, water, and society: Toward integrative research in the “Anthropocene.” Anthropocene. 16: 16-27.

Cook, P.L.M., Jennings, M., Holland, D.P., Beardall, J., Briles, C.E., Atun, Z., Doan, Pl., Mills, K., Gell, P. 2016. Blooms of cyanobacteria in a temperate Australian lagoon system post and prior to European settlement. Biogeosciences 113(12): 3677-3686.

White, A, Briles,  C.E., Whitlock, C. 2015. Postglacial vegetation and fire history of the southern Cascade Range, Oregon, USA. Quaternary Research. 84(3):  348-357.

Higuera, P.E., Briles, C.E., Whitlock, C. Fire regime complacency and sensitivity to centennial- through millennial-scale climate variability in Rocky Mountain subalpine forests, Colorado, USA. Journal of Ecology. 102: 1429-1441.

Dunnette, P.V., Higuera, P.E., McLauchlan, K.K., Derr, K.M., Briles, C.E., and Keefe, M.H., 2014. Biogeochemical impacts of wildfires over four millennia in a Rocky Mountain subalpine watershed. New Phytologist. 203: 900-912.

Morey, A.E., C. Goldfinger, C.E. Briles, D. Gavin, D. Colombaroli, and J.E. Kusler. 2013. Are great Cascadia earthquakes recorded in the sedimentary records from small forearc lakes? Natural Hazards and Earth System Science, 13, 2441-2463.

Briles, C.E., Whitlock, C., and Meltzer, D. 2012. Late-glacial-interglacial environments in the southern Rocky Mountains, USA and implications for Younger Dryas-age human occupation. Quaternary Research. 77: 96-103.

Marlon, J.R., Bartlein, P.J., Long, C., Gavin, D.G., Anderson, R.S., Briles, C.E, Brown, K.J., Colombaroli, D., Hallett, D.J., Power, M.J., Scharf, E.A., Walsh, M.K. 2012. A long-term perspective on wildfires in the western U.S. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2012. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1112839109

Briles, C.E., Whitlock, C., Skinner, C., and Mohr, J. 2011. Holocene forest development and maintenance on different substrates in the Klamath Mountains, northern California.  Ecology92, 590-601.

Whitlock, C., Briles, C.E., Fernandez, M.C., and Gage, J. 2011. Holocene vegetation, fire, and climate history of the Sawtooth Range, central Idaho, USA.  Quaternary Research, 75: 114-124.

Whitlock, C., Higuera, P.E., McWethy, D., Briles, C.E. 2010. Paleoecological perspective on fire ecology: revisiting the fire-regime concept. The Open Ecology Journal, 3: 6-23.

Marlon, J.R., Bartlein, P.J., Walsh, M.K., Harrison, S.P.,Brown, K.J., Edwards, M.E., Higuera, P.E., Power, M.J., Anderson, R.S., Briles, C.E., Brunelle, A., Carcaillet, C., Daniels, M., Hu, F.S., Lavoie, M., Long, C., Minckley, T., Richard, P.J.H, Shafer, D.S., Tinner, W., Umbanhowar, C.H., Whitlock, C.2009. Wildfire responses to abrupt climate change in North America.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. www.pnas.org_cgi_doi_10.1073_pnas.0808212106.

Briles, C.E., Whitlock, C, Bartlein, P.J and Higuera, P.E. 2008. Regional and local controls on postglacial vegetation and fire in the Siskiyou Mountains of northern California and southern Oregon. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 265:  159-169.

Whitlock, C., Marlon, J., Briles, C.E., Brunelle, A., Long, C. and Bartlein, P.J. 2008. Long-term relations between fire, fuel, and climate in the northwestern U.S. International Journal of Wildland Fire 17: 72-83.

Briles, C.E., Whitlock, C., and Bartlein, P.J. 2005. Postglacial vegetation, fire and climate history of the Siskiyou Mountains, Oregon, USA.  Quaternary Research 64: 44-56.

GEOG 1202: Introduction to Physical Geography (Spring semester)
GEOG 3232: Weather and Climate (Fall semester)
GEOG/ENVS 4720/ 5720: Climate Change: Causes, Impacts, and Solutions (Spring semester)
GEOG/ENVS 4731/5731: Mountain Biogeography (Fall semester)
ENVS 6800: Community-Based Practicum (Spring semester)