Dr. Peter E. Wigand


Graduate Faculty, Department of Geography, University of Nevada, Reno


Research Faculty, Graduate Program of Hydrological Sciences, University of Nevada, Reno


Graduate Faculty, Department of Geology, California State University, Bakersfield


Affiliate Associate Research Professor, Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno


Primary Investigator, Great Basin & Mojave Paleoenvironmental Research & Consulting, Reno




Ph.D., Anthropology, Washington State University, Pullman, 1985
M.A., Anthropology, Washington State University, Pullman, 1978
B.A., Anthropology, University of Washington, Seattle, 1970




Dr. Wigand is a late Quaternary paleoecologist/paleobotanist with research interests focused on the reconstruction of past vegetation communities and the climates that affected them in the arid and semi-arid regions of the world. Using palynological (pollen) and plant macrofossil (primarily packrat midden analysis) expertises, he is has spent the last 27 years in reconstruction of late Pleistocene and Holocene vegetation history and environments of western North America, especially that of the Great Basin. Using pollen and plant macrofossil evidence he has reconstructed the dynamics of past plant communities. During the last 13 years he has been involved various aspects of applied paleoecology including paleoclimatic site characterization of the Yucca Mountain High-level Nuclear Waste Storage facility in southern Nevada. In this research the variability, magnitude of extremes, rates of change and seasonal distribution of past precipitation and associated temperatures in the Great Basin were reconstructed for input into geohydrological ground water recharge models. Extremes of past climates were derived through assessment of changes in past plant distribution and in physiological stress as evidenced in carbon 13 enrichment. Ongoing research in the central Great Basin and northeastern California have resulted in more detailed information regarding climates of the last 5,000 years an their spatial extent. New research in the Los Angeles and the Tulare Lake basins has resulted in new understandings regarding early and middle Holocene climates in the region.


Continuing with an interest in the eastern Mediterranean developed during fieldwork and paleoenvironmental research in Egypt's Western Desert and Fayum Depression 23 years ago his current interests involve examination of the correspondences between the past climates of the American Southwest and southwestern Asia as they reflect their similar placement in the global climatic system. He is especially interested in the possibility that these correspondences may provide understandings for prediction of future climates, water availability and vegetation response in both regions. Underlying all these studies is an ongoing interest, developed during graduate school, of the link between environmental and human cultural change. Currently, Dr. Wigand is private paleoenvironmental consultant. He is also on the graduate faculty of the Geography Department at the University of Nevada, Reno. He teaches once a year either in the Department of Geography of the University of Nevada, Reno or in the Department of Physics and Geology of California State University, Bakersfield. He also serves on graduate thesis and dissertation committees.


Currently he is conducting ongoing landscape reconstruction research in southern Italy, and investigating Glacial Maxima spruce forest in central Alaska.  He is continuing research in the Tulare Lake basin begun ten years ago, as well as research of pluvial lakes in the Mojave Desert.














SELECTED PUBLICATIONS: (see Research Gate for additional research contributions)



1.     Wigand, P. E.  2013. Southwestern North America. In: Elias S.A. (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science, vol. 4, pp. 142-155. Amsterdam: Elsevier.


2.     Wigand, P. E. 2009.  Identification of Artifact Wood from Gypsum Cave, Nevada.  Appendix C.  Pp. C1 – C37.  In Gilreath, A. (ed.), Volume II: Appendices.  Gypsum Cave Revisited.  Nevada Cultural Resources Report # CR5-2462-4(p).


3.     Wigand, P. E. 2007. Pp. 37-48. Chapter 4: Pleistocene and Pre-European Grassland Ecosystems - Late Quaternary Paleoecology of Grasslands and other Grassy Habitats. In Stromberg, M, J. Corbin, and C D'Antonio (eds.). Ecology and Management of California Grasslands. University of California Press, Berkeley, California. 390 pp.


4.     Nicholas E. Graham, Malcolm K. Hughes, Caspar M. Ammann, Kim M. Cobb, Martin P. Hoerling, Douglas J. Kennett, James P. Kennett, Bert Rein, Lowell Stott, Peter E. Wigand, and Taiyi Xu. 2007. Tropical Pacific-Mid-latitude Teleconnections in Medieval Times. Climatic Change 83(1-2):241-285.Wigand, P. E. 2007. Postglacial pollen Records of Southwestern North American Pp. 2773- 2783. In Elias, S. A. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science, volumes 1-4. Elsevier, London, UK.


5.     Negrini, R.M., P.E. Wigand, S. Draucker, K. Gobalet, J.K. Gardner, M.Q. Sutton, R.M. Yohe, II. 2006. The Rambla highstand shoreline and the Holocene lake-level history of Tulare Lake, California, USA. Quaternary Science Reviews 25:1599-1618.

6.     Banks, W. E. and P. E. Wigand. 2005. Reassessment of Radiocarbon Age Determinations for the Munkers Creek Phase. Plains Anthropologist 50(194):173-183.


7.     Wigand, P. E. and D. Rhode. 2002. Great Basin Vegetation History and Aquatic Systems: The Last 150,000 years. Pp. 309-367. In Hershler, R., D. B. Madsen and D. R. Currey (eds.), Great Basin Aquatic Systems History. Smithsonian Contributions to Earth Sciences 33. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

8.     Mladen Zic, Robert M. Negrini, Peter E. Wigand. 2002. Evidence of synchronous climate change across the northern hemisphere between the north Atlantic and the northwestern Great Basin, USA. Geology 30(7):635-638.

9.     Jahren, A. H., R. Amundson, C. Kendall and P. E. Wigand. 2001. Paleoclimatic reconstruction using the Correlation in d 18 O of hackberry carbonate and environmental water, North America. Quaternary Research 56(2):252-263.

10.   Hallett, J. C. and P. E. Wigand. 2001. The role of dietary fiber in dung size of bushy-tailed woodrat, Neotoma cinerea: its potential application to paleoclimatic interpretation. Western North American Naturalist 61(1):57-63.

11.   Cohen, A. S., M. Palacios, R. M. Negrini, P. E. Wigand, and D. B. Erbes. 2000. A paleoclimate record for the past 250,000 years from Summer Lake, Oregon, U.S.A.: II. Sedimentology, paleontology, and geochemistry. Journal of Paleolimnology 24 (2):151-182.

12.   Negrini, R. M., D.l B. Erbes, K. Faber, A. M. Herrera, A. P. Roberts, A. S. Cohen, P. E. Wigand, and Franklin F. Foit, Jr. 2000. A paleoclimate record for the past 250,000 years from Summer Lake, Oregon, U.S.A.: I. Chronology and magnetic proxies for lake level. Journal of Paleolimnology 24 (2):125-149.

13.   Wigand, P. E. 1999. Stable isotopes in biotic materials and regional climatic reconstruction. Pp. 119-138. In Rose, M. R. and P. E. Wigand (eds.) Proceedings of the Southern California Climate Symposium, 25 October 1991: Trends and Extremes of the Past 2000 Years. Technical Reports #11. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. 269 pp.

14.   Harvey, A. M., P. E. Wigand and S. G. Wells. 1999: Response of alluvial fan systems to the late Pleistocene to Holocene climatic transition: contrasts between the margins of pluvial Lakes Lahontan and Mojave, Nevada and California, U.S.A. Catena 36:255-281.

15.   Wigand, P. E. and A. Simmons. 1999:. Chapter 8: The Dating of Arkotiri Aetokremenos. In Simmons, A. (ed.), Faunal Extinction in an Island Society: Pygmy Hippopotamus Hunters of Cyprus. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York.

16.   Wigand, P. E. 1997: Native American diet and environmental contexts of the Holocene revealed in the pollen of human fecal material. Nevada Historical Society Quarterly 40(1):105-116.

17.   Plummer, M. A., F. M. Phillips, J. Fabryka-Martin, H. J. Turin, P. E. Wigand, P. Sharma. 1997: Chlorine-36 in fossil rat urine: an archive of cosmogenic nuclide deposition over the past 40,000 years. Science 277(5325):538-541.

18.   Wigand, P. E. 1997. A late-Holocene pollen record from Lower Pahranagat Lake, southern Nevada, USA: High resolution paleoclimatic records and analysis of environmental responses to climate change. Pp. 63-77. In Isaacs, C. M. and V. L. Tharp (eds.), Proceedings of the Thirteenth Annual Pacific Climate (PACLIM) Workshop, April 15-18, 1996. Interagency Ecological Program. Technical Report 53. California Department of Water Resources.

19.   Wigand, P. E. and Hemphill, M. L., 1995: Great Basin woodland dynamics during the Holocene. In Waugh, W. J., Petersen, K.L., Wigand, P.E. and Louthan, B.D., (eds.). Proceedings of the Workshop-Climate Change in the Four Corners and Adjacent Regions: Implications for Environmental Restoration and Land-Use Planning. CONF-9409325, U.S. Department of Energy, Grand Junction, Colorado.

20.   Miller, R. F. and Wigand, P.E., 1994: Holocene Changes in Semiarid Woodlands: Response to climate, fire and human activities in the Great Basin. Bioscience 44(7):465-474.

21.   Wigand, P. E., Hemphill, M.L. and (Manna) Patra, S., 1994: Late Holocene climate derived from vegetation history and plant cellulose stable isotope records from the Great Basin of western North America. Pp. 2574 -2583. Proceedings of the fifth Annual International High-Level Radioactive Waste Management Conference and Exposition, May 22-26, 1994.

22.   Simmons, A. and Wigand, P.E., 1994: Assessing the Radiocarbon Determinations from Akrotiri Aetokremnos, Cyprus. Pp. 247-264. In Bar-Yosef, O. and R. S. Kraa, (eds.), Late Quaternary Chronology and Paleoclimates of the Eastern Mediterranean. Radiocarbon, Tucson , AZ.

23.   Nowak, C. L., Nowak, R.S., Tausch, R.J. and Wigand, P.E., 1994: A 30,000 year record of vegetation dynamics at a semi-arid locale in the Great Basin. Journal of Vegetation Science 5:579-590.



Email: pewigand@gmail.com / home