Zachary P. Taylor

Zachary P. Taylor


  • Ph.D. Geography, University of Tennessee, 2011
  • M.S. Geography, University of Tennessee, 2005
  • B.S. Environmental Science, University of Denver, 2003


Introduction to Environmental Science, Biogeography, Quaternary Paleoenvironments, Global Climate Change, Introduction to Physical Geography, Senior Seminar

Research Interests

My research primarily centers on understanding the mechanisms and impacts of environmental change.  I use an interdisciplinary approach and a variety of techniques to study past climate, vegetation assemblages, disturbance regimes, and human-environment interactions.  Much of my work relies on the analysis of lake sediments.  Lake sediments provide a window to the past that helps provide context for modern environmental changes and possible analogues for future conditions.

Much of my research has focused on Latin America.  Using a sediment core from a lake in eastern Bolivia, I constructed a 5,000-year record of vegetation and climate change at the southern boundary of the Amazon forest.  I have also worked in southwestern Costa Rica, where I used a network of five lake sediment cores to investigate sediment deposition processes and the effects of droughts on prehistoric agriculture.  At Willamette, my students have used soil cores to examine prehistoric fire frequency and oak savannah/forest dynamics at Zena Forest.  In the future, I plan to continue working with students to study past climate and vegetation in the Willamette Valley.


  • Taylor, Z.P., Horn, S.P., Finkelstein, D.B.  Evaluating the use of maize pollen concentrations in lake sediments as indicators of prehistoric agriculture. In press, The Holocene.
  • M.J. Power, Mayle, F.E., Bartlein, P.J., Marlon, J.R., Anderson, R.S., Behling, H., Brown, K.J., Carcaillet, C., Colombaroli, D., Gavin, D.G., Hallett, D.J., Horn, S.P., Kennedy, L.M., Lane C.S., Long, C., Moreno, P.I., Paitre, C., Robinson, G., Taylor, Z.P., Walsh, M. Climatic control of the biomass-burning decline in the Americas after AD 1500.  In press, The Holocene.
  • Taylor, Z.P, Horn, S.P., Mora, C.I., Orvis, K.H., Cooper, L.C.  2010.  A multiproxy palaeoecological record of late-Holocene forest expansion in lowland Bolivia.  Palaeogeography, Palaeoecology, Palaeoclimatology 293: 98–107.
  • Taylor, Z.P., Finkelstein, D.B., and Horn S.P.  2010.  Evaluating isotopic and geochemical spatial variability in lake sediments (abstract).  Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 74 (12, Supplement 1): A1032.
  • Lane, C.S., Horn, S.P., Taylor, Z.P., Mora, C.I.  2009.  Assessing the scale of prehistoric human impact in the neotropics using stable carbon isotope analyses of lake sediments: A test case from Costa Rica.  Latin American Antiquity 20 (1): 120–133.