Earth & Environmental Science Department, Lehigh University




International Society for Testate Amoeba Research (ISTAR)

Paleoecological section of the Ecological Society of America

Neotoma paleoecology database

PalEON: Paleo-ecological observatory network

American Quaternary Association

Paleoclimatology focus group at the American Geophysical Union






Robert K. Booth

I am an ecologist interested in the influence of environmental variability and disturbance on the structure and function of ecosystems. My research group generally utilizes the rich record of environmental variability preserved in the sediments of peatlands and lakes, although when possible we couple these studies with investigations of contemporary and historical ecology. Much of the research in my lab is designed to address issues in global change, with current projects focused on the impacts and climatology of prolonged drought events, the reconstruction of past environmental variability using biological and geochemical proxies, and the responses of forest and peatland systems to environmental variability and change.



  • Associate Professor, Lehigh University (2011-present)
  • Class of 1961 Professorship (2013-2015)
  • Associate Editor, Quaternary Research (2012-present)
  • Frank S. Hook Assistant Professor, Lehigh University (2010-2012)
  • Assistant Professor, Lehigh University (2006-2011)
  • Assistant Scientist (2005), University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Post-doctoral Fellow (2003-05), University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • PhD (2003), University of Wyoming
  • MS (1998), Georgia Southern University
  • BS (1995), The Pennsylvania State University

Recent and ongoing research themes and projects

Ecological change and responses to environmental variability

We have been investigating the responses of forest vegetation and peatlands to environmental variability and change, using the sediment archive contained in lakes and peatlands. Some recent and ongoing studies include:

  • Drought as a trigger for rapid state shifts in kettlehole ecosystems. Collaborators: Sara Hotchkiss (University of Wisconsin), Dante Fratta (University of Wisconsin), Alex Ireland (Lehigh University), Jennifer Schmitz (University of Wisconsin). (supported by NSF) (Link to project summary at NSF) (Link to blog posts)




Ecology, biogeography, and paleoenvironmental applications of testate amoebae.

Several ongoing studies are focused on improving our understanding of the ecology and biogeography of testate amoebae, a group of protozoa that produce decay-resistant and morphologically distinct shells. A few recent and ongoing projects include:

  • Ecology of testate amoebae in Sphagnum peatlands. Recent and ongoing work in the New Jersey Pine Barrens (Maura Sullivan, PhD research), and Alaska and the Pacific Northwest (Markel et al., 2010; Michael Clifford, PhD research). (link to related blog post)

  • Ecology of testate amoebae in the Florida Everglades (Travis Andrews, MS research)

Multiproxy archives of late Holocene climate variability from peatlands in North America

We are conducting multiproxy paleoclimate studies on peatlands, particularly ombrotrophic peatlands, in North America. These studies are being coupled with modeling efforts and analyses of historical climate variability, to assess the dynamics and causes of past episodes of widespread drought. Some ongoing and recent projects include:

  • Continental patterns of moisture anomalies associated with late Holocene mid-latitude megadroughts. (supported by NSF) (Link to project summary at NSF) (Michael Clifford, PhD student)

  • Spatiotemporal patterns of climate, hydrological, and wetland vegetation change in the western Great Lakes region. Collaborators: D.A. Wilcox (SUNY at Brockport), S.J. Baedke (James Madison University), T.A. Thompson (Indiana Geological Survey), and others. (Supported by USGS-GCC)



Recent and representative publications

In press

Last three years

Selected publications prior to 2010