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February 14

10:00 am-noon

Open to the Public – Free


Speaker: Geof Spaulding, Terra Antigua

In the late 20th Century the introduction of packrat (Neotoma spp.) midden analysis led to an amazing increase in the resolution of paleovegetation reconstructions in western North America. 

Along with a more comprehensive paleontological record, these lines of evidence allow extinct ecosystems to be examined at a level of detail never before possible. 

We will describe tools developed to understand plant communities of the Pleistocene, especially fossil packrat analysis, which is particularly useful in the deserts. The results of these studies will then be discussed, and in the process we’ll touch on:

  • The Pleistocene ecosystems of the interior deserts
  • Paleoclimates of the last 20,000 years
  • How plant species responded to glacial-age climate change
  • Implications for rates of evolutionary change
  • Coevolution between plants and extinct Pleistocene herbivores


Dr. Geof Spaulding is a Paleobiologist and Quaternary Geologist with primary research focus on deserts and their environmental history.  

He earned his advanced degrees at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and has extensive experience in the paleoecology, geomorphology, paleohydrology, and biogeography of the American West. 

He also is accomplished in paleoclimatic reconstruction, and in age-determinations of archaeological and paleontological sites in the West. 

Prior to going into private practice Dr. Spaulding was an environmental project manager for Dames & Moore (10 years), and a Senior Technical Consultant with the international engineering and environmental firm CH2M Hill for15 years. Before joining industry, he was a Research Professor of Botany at the University of Washington, Seattle, specializing in arid‑lands studies and paleoenvironments of the southern Great Basin and Mojave Desert. 

Dr. Spaulding now lives in Henderson, Nevada and manages the non-profit Terra Antiqua, dedicated to a better understanding of environmental change in arid lands.