Erik Gulbranson

Assistant Professor
 (414) 229-3328
 Lapham Hall 168


PhD, University of California-Davis
BS, University of Minnesota-Duluth

Key Areas of Interest

Paleoclimatology and paleoecology, isotope geochemistry and geochronology, paleobotany, soils and paleosols

Research Interests

I am interested in broad questions concerning the response of plants to climate change and the influence of high-latitude ecosystems on global climate. For example, deciduous trees are hypothesized to be favored at polar latitudes, however, the fossil record indicates that this was not always the case. Therefore, this example raises the question about how plants adapt to different environments/climate, which fits into bigger questions about why plant traits vary with latitude/altitude. In order to address these questions I employ a research strategy that focuses on deep time examples of high-latitude ecosystems during time intervals of global change. I conduct field-based studies of sedimentology/stratigraphy and the analysis of paleosols to develop paleoenvironmental frameworks, and supplement this work with laboratory studies in the geochemistry and isotope geochemistry of plant fossils, paleosols, and sedimentary rocks to develop paleoclimate and paleoecologic reconstructions. Furthermore, I am developing new research areas to use extant vegetation and soils to develop and calibrate paleoclimate and paleoecology proxies.

Teaching Areas

Isotope geochemistry, soils and paleosols, paleoclimates, biogeochemical cycles

Selected Publications

Gulbranson, E.L., Ryberg, P.E., 2013. Paleobotanical and geochemical approaches to studying fossil tree rings: quantitative interpretations of paleoenvironment and ecophysiology. Palaios, 28, 137-140.

Gulbranson, E.L., Isbell, J.L., Taylor, E.L., Ryberg, P.E., Taylor, T.N., Flaig, P.P., 2012. Permian polar forests: deciduousness and environmental variation. Geobiology, 10, 479-495.

Isbell, J.L., Henry, L.C., Gulbranson, E.L., Limarino, C.O., Fraiser, M.L., Koch, Z.J., Ciccioli, P.L., Dineen, A.A., 2012. Evaluation of glacial paradoxes during the late Paleozoic ice age using the concept of the equilibrium line altitude (ELA) as a control on glaciation. Gondwana Research, 22, 1-19.

Gulbranson, E.L., Montanez, I.P., Tabor, N.J., 2011. A relative humidity and floral province proxy for paleosols. The Journal of Geology, 119, 559-573.

Gulbranson, E.L., Tabor, N.J., Montanez, I.P., 2011. Response of soil CO2 to variations in soil moisture content recorded in paleosol goethite. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 75, 7099-7116.

Gulbranson, E.L., Montanez, I.P., Schmitz, M.D., Limarino, C.O., Isbell, J.L., Marenssi, S.A., Crowley, J.L., 2010. High-precision U-Pb calibration of Carboniferous glaciation and climate history, Paganzo Group, NW Argentina. GSA Bulletin, 122, 1480-1498.