Christy E Briles

Ph.D. • Assistant Professor (Dr. Briles is on sabbatical for 2021)
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

Lab: North Classroom 3208

Expertise Areas:
Paleoecology, Biogeography, Climate Change, Palynology

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

As a second-generation Coloradan raised on a small rural farm surrounded by majestic mountain peaks, I have always been interested in understanding natural and anthropogenic landscapes. Now as a biogeographer and paleoecologist, I use environmental proxies (e.g., pollen, charcoal and geochemistry) to understand how biotic (e.g., humans and animals) and abiotic factors (e.g., climate, fire, and geology) influence species and ecosystems at different scales of both space and time. My interests stem from a desire to understand the natural world to sustain and promote valuable natural resources and be a versed steward of the environment. These interests have resulted in a variety of experiences and perspectives that have been integral in defining my teaching and research. Teaching continuously challenges me to think of new and exciting ways of conveying scientific information to students. I involve undergraduates and graduate students in all aspects of my research. I thoroughly enjoy mentoring students who aim to become future scientists and, in my classes, getting students to see the value of scientific thinking. Outside of academia, I enjoy working with the community, grade school kids and organizations on a range of environmental topics. Promoting and strengthening earth system science in academia and the community is a career goal.


Briles, C.E., *Serenchenko, O., Stevens, L., White, A.J., and Huong, Mai. 2019. Late Holocene climate and human impacts on a tropical ecosystem in northern Vietnam. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 7(121), 1-11. (doi: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00121).

Briles, C.E., 2017. Controls on mountain plant diversity: a 14,000-year overview. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 107(2), 238-249. (doi: 10.1080/24694452.2016.1232617).

Rathburn, S.L., Bennett, G.L., Wohl, E.E., Briles, C.E., McElroy, B., Sutfin, N. 2017.The fate of sediment, wood and organic carbon eroded during an extreme flood, Colorado Front Range, USA. Geology 45(6), 499-502. (doi: 10.1130/G38935.1).

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, 16-17. (doi: 10.1016/j.ancene.2016.09.001).

Cook, P.L.M, *Jennings, M., Holland, D.P., Beardall, J., Briles, C.E., Atun, Z., Doan, P.L., 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. (doi: 10.5194/bg-13-3677-2016).

*White, A., Briles, C.E., Whitlock, C. 2015. Postglaical vegetation and fire history of the southern Cascade Range, Oregon, USA. Quaternary Research 84, 348-357. (doi: 10.1016/j.yqres.2015.09.007).

Higuera, P.E., Briles, C.E., Whitlock, C. 2014. 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. (doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.12296).

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. (doi: 10.1111/nph.12828).

Morey, A.E., Goldfinger, C., Briles, C.E., Gavin, D., Colombaroli, D. and Kusler, J.E. 2013. Are great Cascadia earthquakes recorded in the sedimentary records from small forearc lakes? Natural Hazards and Earth System Science 13, 2441-2463. (doi: 10.5194/nhess-13-2441-2013).

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. (doi: 10.1016/j.yqres.2011.10.002).

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 109, 3203-3204. (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. Ecology 92, 590-601. (doi:.1890/09-1772.1).

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. (doi:

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. (doi: 10.2174/1874213001003020006).

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. 106, 2519-2524. (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. (doi: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2008.05.007).

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. (doi: 10.1071/WF07025).

Power, M.J., Marlon, J., Ortiz, N., Bartlein, P.J., Harrison, S.P., Mayle, F.E., Ballouche, A., Bradshaw, R., Carcaillet, C., Cordova, C., Mooney, S., Moreno, P., Prentice, I.C., Thonicke, K., Tinner, W., Whitlock, C., Zhang, Y., Zhao, Y, Anderson, R.S., Beer, R., Behling, H., Briles, C., Brown, K.J., Brunelle A, Bush, M., Camill, P, Chu, G.Q., Clark, J., Colombaroli, D., Connor, S., Daniels, M.,, Daniau, A.-L., Dodson, J., Doughty, E., Edwards, M.E., Fisinger, W., Foster, D., Frechette J., Gaillard, M.-J., Gil-Romera, G., Gavin, D.G., Gobet, E., Haberle, S., Hallett, D.J., Higuera, P., Hope, G., Horn, S., Impagliazzo, S., Inoue, J., Kaltenrieder, P., Kennedy, L., Kong, Z.C., Larsen, C., Long, C.J., Lynch, J., Lynch, B., McGlone, M., Meeks, S., Mensing, S., Meyer, G., Minckley, T., Mohr, J, Nelson, D., New, J., Newnham, R., Noti, R., Oswald, W., Pierce, J., Richard, P.J.H., Rowe, C., Sanchez Goñi, M.F., Shuman, B.J., Takahara, H., Toney, J., Turney, C., Umbanhower, C., Vandergoes, M., Vanniere, B., Vescovi, E., Walsh, M., Wang, X., Williams, N., Wilmshurst, J., Zhang, J.H. 2008. Changes in fire regimes since the Last Glacial Maximum: an assessment based on a global synthesis of charcoal data. Climate Dynamics 30, 887-907. (doi: 10.1007/s00382-007-0334-x).

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. (doi: 10.1016/j.yqres.2005.03.001).


Skinner, C.N., Taylor, A.K., Agee, J.K., Briles, C.E., and Whitlock, C. 2018. Klamath Mountains Bioregion. In: N. G. Sugihara, J. W. van Wagtendonk, J. Fites-Kaufmann, K. E. Shaffer, and A. E. Thode, editors. Fire in California's Ecosystems. University of California Press, Berkeley. pp. 171-193.

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)