Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Geology and Geography

Committee Chair

Amy Hessl.


This dissertation is composed of three chapters addressing the broad issues of land use, climate variability, and wildfire in central Mongolia. The first chapter describes a GIS model developed to map human impacts in the Upper Tuul River watershed. Forest establishment data were used to validate the application of the model with results indicating a high level of correspondence with a field assessment of human disturbance. Chapter two is a tree-ring based reconstruction of Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) for the central Khan Khentii Mountains from 1675-2000. Changes in moisture availability were more frequent during the 20th century than any other period of the reconstruction, suggesting a growing need for increased adaptability of the livestock industry and natural resource managers. In the final chapter, we used tree rings to reconstruct wildfire frequency and extent in the Upper Tuul River watershed during the period 1875-2009. Results indicate a recent decrease in wildfire frequency and extent; trends which might be observed in other arid regions where prolonged drought and human land use inhibit fuel accumulation. Chapter one was formatted for and submitted to The Geographical Journal on July 2, 2011, while the remaining two chapters are pending submission to peer-reviewed journals.