Frank Magilligan


I attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and received a MS degree in Water Resources Management (1981), a MS in Geography (1983), and a Ph.D. in Geography (1988). My research interests focus primarily on fluvial geomorphology and surface water hydrology. In particular, my research addresses stream channel and watershed response to environmental change -- whether the change is generated by natural (e.g. climate change) or anthropogenic (e.g. agriculture, grazing, or logging) causes.  My main research interests have been on the response and recovery of stream channels to either large floods or watershed disturbance, and I have recently become especially interested in the links between channel processes and riparian ecology.  In particular, most of my research over the past few years has concentrated on the hydro-ecological impacts of dams.  In collaboration with Professor Carl Renshaw from the Earth Sciences Department and Keith Nislow from the Forest Service, we have been documenting the impacts of flow regulation on sediment transport, embeddedness, and benthic macro-invertebrate community structure.  In our recent NSF grant, we are exploring the downstream changes associated with flow regulation relative to overall watershed structure, especially that associated with tributary inputs of water and sediment.  In this work, we are using the fallout radionuclides 7Be and 210Pb as tracers but also to age in-channel deposits (we have an outstanding Fallout Radionuclide Lab with 7 Gamma Detectors).  Lastly, I have been working in Downeast Maine evaluating the long-term effects of logging on large woody debris (LWD) and salmonid habitat in coastal Maine rivers. 


I am currently involved in several other projects, including some recent work with an archaeologist from UC-San Diego, Paul Goldstein, working on El Nino floods in Peru and their significance on Tiwanaku site abandonment (See some recent papers below in Geomorphology and in Catena).  In this research, we are examining the long-term evolution of El Nino’s and their role in cultural history in the Moquegua River valley in Peru’s Atacama Desert. As part of this work, we are now developing the broader Late Pleistocene to modern hydro-climatology of the Atacama Desert.

In Iceland 2001