Associate Professor (Ph.D. University of Oregon, 2006), Curator of the Garrett Herbarium (Utah Museum of Natural History), and Power Paleoecology Lab Director -- vegetation history, historical biogeography, fire, paleoecology and paleoclimatology



  • Office: Bldg 73 Room 204 / Natural History Museum
  • e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • phone: 801-581-6520
  • Link to lab page: Power Paleoecology Lab

Research Interests:

  • Vegetation History
  • Botany
  • Biogeography
  • Fire History
  • Paleoecology
  • Paleoclimatology



Biogeographer Mitchell Power holds a split position at the University of Utah with partnerships between the Natural History Museum of Utah and the Department of Geography.  His interests include botany, paleoecology, biogeography, fire history, and paleoclimatology. As Curator of the Garrett Herbarium, Mitchell has been investigating the history of vegetation and the role of fire during the past several thousand years in the western United States and other regions of the globe.  Mitchell studies fossil plant material preserved in sediment cores from lakes and meadows across the West and in tropical South America.   Mitchell has been an invited speaker at several international meetings including; the International Quaternary Association Paleofire meeting in Berne, Switzerland, the International Geosphere Biosphere meeting in Cape Town, South Africa and has been a member of the scientific steering committee for the Global Palaeofire Working Group and a co-chair of the International Multiproxy Paleofire Database.   His recent work explores the paleoclimate and disturbance history of tropical Amazonia with recent publications focusing on environmental change before and after the “Colombian Encounter,” when Europeans began to settle the New World during the 15th and 16th centuries.


  • Ph.D. Biogeography, University of Oregon (2006)
  • M.S. Paleobotany, Northern ArizonaUniversity (1998)
  • B.A. Archaeology, University of Maine (1992)

Courses Taught:

  • GEOG 5270 Biogeography
  • GEOG 6410 Paleoclimatology
  • GEOG 5275 Vegetation and Climate Change


  • 2013-present: Scientific Steering Committee LaAcer: Latin America paleo working group
  • 2009-present: Consortium of Intermountain Regional Herbaria founding member
  • 2009-present: Co-Chair International Multiproxy Paleofire Database
  • 2008-present: Director Power Paleoecology Lab, Natural History Museum of Utah
  • 2006-present: Scientific Steering Committee Global Palaeofire Working Group


  • Power MJ, Mayle, FE, Bartlein, PJ and co-authors (2013) 16th Century burning decline in the Americas: population collapse or climate change? The Holocene
  • Power MJ (in press) Biomass burning in the Earth system during the last 21,000 years: A paleofire perspective (Eds. C.Belcher and G.Rein) In Fire Phenomena and the Earth System, Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Molinari, C, Lehsten, V, Bradshaw, RH, Power MJ, Wittwer, T, Arneth, A, and MT Sykes (inpress) Exploring potential drivers of European biomass burning over the past 9000 years: a data-model comparison.
  • Morris, J, Brunelle, A, Munson, AS, Bares, R, Carter, V, DeRose, RJ, Seppa, H, Power, MJ (in review).  Using fire regimes to delineate zones in a high resolution lake sediment record. Quaternary Research,
  •  Marlon, JR, Bartlein, PJ, Daniau, A-L, Harrison, SP, Power, MJ, Tinner, W, Tracy S (2013) Global biomass burning: a synthesis and review of Holocene paleofire records and their controls.  Quaternary Science Reviews
  • Brown, KJ and Power, MJ (2013) Charred Particle Analyses. Invited chapter to Quaternary Science Encyclopedia, 2012
  • Daniau, A-L, Tinner, W, Bartlein, PJ, Harrison, SP, Prentice IC, Brewer, S, Friedlingstein, P,Harrison-Prentice, TI, Inoue, J, Marlon J, Mooney, S, Power, MJ, Stevenson, J and members of the Global Palaeofire Working Group  (2012) Predictability of biomass burning in response to climate changes. Global Change Biology 
  • Morris, J, Brunelle, A, Munson, AS, Spencer, J, and Power, MJ (2012). Holocene vegetation and fire reconstructions from the Aquarius Plateau, Utah, USA.  Quaternary International.
  • Roberts, N, Tinner, W, Colombaroli, D, Power, MJ, and Vannière B, (2013). Vegetation,land-use and fire history in Mediterranean ecosystems during the last two millennia. In: (Ed. J. Luterbacher) MedClivar Vegetation and Landuse History.
  • Whitlock C, Dean W, Fritz S, Stevens L, Stone JF, Power, MJ, Rosenbaum JR, Pierce KL, and Bracht-Flyr, B (2012) Holocene seasonal variability inferred from multiple proxy records from CreviceLake, Yellowstone National Park, USA.  Palaeogeography,Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, vol 331-332: 90-103
  • Iriarte, J,  Power, MJ,  Rostain, S, Mayle, FE, Jones, H, Watling, J, Whitney, BS, McKey, D (2012) Fire-free land-use in pre-1492 Amazonian savannas. Proceedings of theNational Academy of Sciences. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1201461109   
  • Marlon, JM, Bartlein, PJ, Long, C, Gavin, DG, Anderson, RS, Briles, C, Brown, K, Colombaroli, D, Hallett, DJ, Power, MJ, Scharf, E, Walsh, MK (2012) Natural versus human causes of fire in the western U.S.Proceedings of the National Academy ofSciences.   doi/10.1073/pnas.1112839109
  • Power MJ, Whitlock C, Bartlein PJ (2011) Postglacial fire, vegetation, and climate history across an elevational gradient in the Northern Rocky Mountains, USA. Quaternary Science Reviews, 30: 2520-2533.
  • Long, C and Power, MJ, McDonald, B (2011) Millennial-scale fire and vegetation history from a mesic hardwood forest of southeastern Wisconsin, USA. Journal ofQuaternary Science, 26:318-325.
  • Long, CJ, Power, MJ, Bartlein, PJ (2011) The effects of fire and tephra deposition on forest vegetation in the Central Cascades, Oregon.  Quaternary Research 75:151-158.
  • Vannière B, Power MJ, Roberts N, Tinner W, Carrión J, Magny M, Bartlein P(2011)Circum-Mediterranean fire activity and climate changes during the mid Holoceneenvironmental transition (8500-2500 cal yr BP). The Holocene, 21:53-73.
  • Power, MJ, Bush, M.B., Behling, H., Horn, S.P., Mayle, F.E., and D.H. Urrego (2010)Paleofire activity in tropical America during the last 21 ka.  PAGES SpecialEdition: (Eds.) C. Whitlock and W. Tinner, “Fire in the Earth System: A Paleo-perspective”, 18 (2): 73-75.
  • Power, MJ, Marlon, JR, Bartlein, PJ, Harrison, S (2010) Fire history and the global charcoal database: a new tool for hypothesis testing and data exploration.  Palaeogeography,Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 291(1-2):52-59.
  • Mayle, FE, Burn, MJ, PowerMJ, and Urrego, D (2010) Vegetation and fire at the LGM in tropical South America. Chapter in, (eds.) F. Sylvestre and F. Vimeux, Springer Pub.
  • Shuman, B, Henderson, A, Colman, SM, Stone, JR, Fritz, SC, Stevens, LR, Power, MJ, Whitlock, C. (2009) Holocene lake-level trends in the Rocky Mountains, U.S.A. Quaternary Science Reviews, 28(19-20):1861-1879.
  • Marlon, JR, Bartlein, PJ, Walsh, MK, Harrison, SP, Brown, KJ, Edwards, ME, Higuera, PE,
  • Power, MJ, Anderson, RS, Briles, C, Brunelle A, Carcaillet, C, Daniels, M, Hu, FS, Lavoie, M, Long, C, Minkley, T, Richard, PJH, Shafer, DS, Tinner, W, Umbanhowar, CE Jr, Whitlock, C (2009) Wildfire responses to abrupt climate change in North America. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences106(8): 2519-1524.
  • Marlon, JR, Bartlein, PJ, Carcaillet, C, Gavin, DG, Harrison, SP, Higuera, PE, Joos, F, Power, MJ, Prentice, IC (2008) A Climate-Driven Decline in Global Biomass Burning During the Past Two Millennia, Nature Geosciences, vol 1, October, p.697-702.
  • Mayle FE, and Power MJ (2008) Impact of a drier early-mid Holocene climate upon Amazonian forests. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 363:1829-1838.
  • Power MJ et al. (84 co-authors) (2008) Changes in fire regime since the Last Glacial Maximum: an assessment based on a global synthesis and analysis of charcoal data. Climate Dynamics, 30 (7-8):887-907.
  • Whitlock C, Dean W, Rosenbaum J, Stevens L, Fritz S, Bracht B, Power MJ (2008) A 2650-year-long record of environmental change from northern YellowstoneNational Park based on a comparison of multiple proxy data.  Quaternary International, 188:126-138.
  • Power MJ, Whitlock C, Bartlein PJ, Stevens L (2006).  Fire and vegetation history during the last 3800 years in northwestern Montana.  Geomorphology, 75:420-436.
  • Anderson RS, Power, MJ, Smith SJ, Springer K, Scott E (2002). Paleoecology of MIS-3 Pond Deposits from Riverside County, Southwestern California.  Quaternary Research, vol. 58(3):310-317.