Alan Taylor


I have broad research interests in ecological biogeography and vegetation dynamics, particularly the role of natural and human disturbance and climate variation on forest dynamics. Much of my recent research has focused on identifying the influence of changes and interactions of land use history and climate on fire disturbance and forest conditions in the western United States. I address both theoretical and applied questions in my research and use a wide range of methodological approaches including tree ring analysis, spatial analysis and statistical modeling, simulation modeling, and historical ecology. I have also conducted research on the dynamics of subalpine bamboo forests with giant pandas in southwest China and on highland bamboo forests in mountain gorilla habitat in the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda. At Penn State I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in Global Ecology and Biogeography, Geographical Ecology, Forest Geography, Landscape Ecology, Vegetation Dynamics, and Invasive Species.

Hometown: Berkeley, California
Distractions: Competitive trail riding, hiking, playing guitar, skiing

Research Interests

  • landscape ecology
  • fire ecology
  • disturbance and climate effects on vegetation
  • biogeography
  • biological conservation
  • environmental management
  • paleoecology


  • Ph.D. Geography, University of Colorado-Boulder, 1987
  • M.S. Geography (minor Botany), Oregon State University
  • B.S. Geography, California State University Hayward

Courses Taught

  • GEOG 411W
  • GEOG 110
  • GEOG 111