Department of Geography and the Environment

Molly Polk


LecturerPh.D. in Geography, University of Texas at Austin

Associate Director of Sustainability Studies and Lecturer
Molly Polk

Contact

Interests


Land Change Science, Sustainability, Mountain Geography, Landscape Ecology, Conservation

Biography


Molly H. Polk, PhD is the Associate Director of Sustainability Studies and a Lecturer in the Department of Geography and The Environment at the University of Texas at Austin.

Molly specializes in land change science in the tropical mountains of Latin America. Related themes of research and teaching include climate change, social-ecological system theory, landscape ecology, and critical physical geography. Publications have appeared in Mires and Peat, Wetlands, the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, Applied Geography, Urban Ecosystems, and The Southwestern Geographer. She has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the American Association of Geographers, DigitalGlobe Foundation, and the American Association of University Women, among others.

Molly's current research takes place in the Peru's Huascaran National Park. Using high Andean wetlands as a focal point, Molly investigates the coupled relationships between glacial recession, landscape change, and human activity. By evaluating the spatial dynamics of high Andean wetlands, much can be learned about the connectivity between hydrologic systems and vulnerable, yet adaptive human systems. Results of the study have been shared with in-country partners who are responsible for decsion-making in Huascaran National Park.

Courses


GRG 335N • Landscape Ecology

36340 • Fall 2019
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:30PM SAC 5.102

The study of spatial patterns in the earth's biosphere found within landscapes, typically areas measured in square kilometers. Examines the processes that create those patterns, drawing from ecology, biogeography, and many other disciplines. Also explores the practical applications of landscape ecology to the study of natural environments and those managed or altered by human activities. Geography 335N and 356T (Topic: Landscape Ecology) may not both be counted.

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing and three semester hours of coursework in physical geography or one of the geological or natural sciences.

SUS 379L • Directed Internships In Sus

36620 • Fall 2019
Meets W 6:00PM-9:00PM RLP 1.108

Please check with the advisor for more information

GRG 335N • Landscape Ecology

37000 • Spring 2019
Meets MW 11:30AM-1:00PM GAR 1.126

The study of spatial patterns in the earth's biosphere found within landscapes, typically areas measured in square kilometers. Examines the processes that create those patterns, drawing from ecology, biogeography, and many other disciplines. Also explores the practical applications of landscape ecology to the study of natural environments and those managed or altered by human activities. Geography 335N and 356T (Topic: Landscape Ecology) may not both be counted.

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing and three semester hours of coursework in physical geography or one of the geological or natural sciences.

SUS 379L • Directed Internships In Sus

37270 • Spring 2019
Meets W 6:00PM-9:00PM RLP 0.104

Please check with the advisor for more information

GRG 335N • Landscape Ecology

37120 • Fall 2018
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:30PM SAC 5.102

The study of spatial patterns in the earth's biosphere found within landscapes, typically areas measured in square kilometers. Examines the processes that create those patterns, drawing from ecology, biogeography, and many other disciplines. Also explores the practical applications of landscape ecology to the study of natural environments and those managed or altered by human activities. Geography 335N and 356T (Topic: Landscape Ecology) may not both be counted.

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing and three semester hours of coursework in physical geography or one of the geological or natural sciences.

SUS 379L • Directed Internships In Sus

37405 • Fall 2018
Meets W 6:00PM-9:00PM RLP 0.122

Please check with the advisor for more information

GRG 301C • The Natural Environment

36745-36785 • Spring 2018
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM MEZ 1.306
N2

Geomorphic processes that shape the earth's surface; origin and evolution of landforms. Groundwater and water resources. Pedogenesis and soil properties. 

Designed to accommodate 100 or more students.

A one-day field trip to be arranged.

GRG 301C • The Natural Environment

37220-37260 • Fall 2017
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM BEL 328
N2

Geomorphic processes that shape the earth's surface; origin and evolution of landforms. Groundwater and water resources. Pedogenesis and soil properties. 

Designed to accommodate 100 or more students.

A one-day field trip to be arranged.

GRG 335N • Landscape Ecology

37415 • Fall 2017
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:30PM SAC 5.102

The study of spatial patterns in the earth's biosphere found within landscapes, typically areas measured in square kilometers. Examines the processes that create those patterns, drawing from ecology, biogeography, and many other disciplines. Also explores the practical applications of landscape ecology to the study of natural environments and those managed or altered by human activities. Geography 335N and 356T (Topic: Landscape Ecology) may not both be counted.

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing and three semester hours of coursework in physical geography or one of the geological or natural sciences.

GRG 335N • Landscape Ecology

37350 • Spring 2017
Meets MW 11:30AM-1:00PM SAC 5.102

The study of spatial patterns in the earth's biosphere found within landscapes, typically areas measured in square kilometers. Examines the processes that create those patterns, drawing from ecology, biogeography, and many other disciplines. Also explores the practical applications of landscape ecology to the study of natural environments and those managed or altered by human activities. Geography 335N and 356T (Topic: Landscape Ecology) may not both be counted.

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing and three semester hours of coursework in physical geography or one of the geological or natural sciences.

GRG 335N • Landscape Ecology

37191 • Fall 2016
Meets TTH 8:00AM-9:30AM CLA 0.124

The study of spatial patterns in the earth's biosphere found within landscapes, typically areas measured in square kilometers. Examines the processes that create those patterns, drawing from ecology, biogeography, and many other disciplines. Also explores the practical applications of landscape ecology to the study of natural environments and those managed or altered by human activities. Geography 335N and 356T (Topic: Landscape Ecology) may not both be counted.

Prerequisite: Upper-division standing and three semester hours of coursework in physical geography or one of the geological or natural sciences.

GRG 335N • Landscape Ecology

37805 • Spring 2014
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM CLA 1.108

Landscape ecology is the study of spatial patterns in the Earth's biosphere and of the processes that produce those patterns. Landscapes can be defined in many ways and at many scales but in this course we will focus on landscapes at the level of a human observer. This interdisciplinary approach draws from ecology and geography, but it is also a perspective increasingly shared by hydrologists, foresters, wildlife biologists, social scientists, landscape architects, and others. We will examine the current state of knowledge and research on the patches and corridors that constitute landscape mosaics. We will cover the possible causal explanations for landscape heterogeneity from geographical and ecological points of view. Finally, we will explore practical applications of landscape ecology to the study of natural environments and those managed or altered by human activities. 

Publications


Polk, M.H., K.R. Young, A. Cano, B. León. 2019. Vegetation of Andean wetlands (bofedales) in Huascarán National Park, Peru. Mires and Peat. 24:Article 1. doi: 10.19189/MaP.2018.SNPG.387

Chimner, R.A., L. Borgeau-Chavez, S. Grelik, J.A. Hribljan, A. Planas Clarke, M.H. Polk,  E.A. Lilleskov, B. Fuentealba. 2019. Mapping extent and types of wetlands in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru. Wetlands. 29:1-11. doi: 10.1007/s13157-019-01134-1*

Aide, T.M., H.R. Grau, J. Graesser, M.J. Andrade-Nunez, E. Araoz, A. Barros, M. Campos-Cerqueira, E. Chacon-Moreno, F. Cuesta, R. Espinoza, M. Peralvo, M.H. Polk, X. Rueda, A. Sanchez, K.R. Young, L. Zarba, K. Zimmerer. 2019. Woody vegetation dynamics in the tropical and subtropical Andes from 2001 to 2014: The impacts of land use change and climate. Global Change Biology. 25:2112-2126. doi: 10.1111/gcb.14618

Polk, M.H. 2018. La Ruta del Cambio Climático: Climate change tourism in the Peruvian Andes. Portal Annual Review 26-31. Link
 
Young, K.R. J. Bury, M. Carey, B.G. Mark, J.M. McKenzie, M. Baraer, A. French, M.H. Polk. 2017. A socio-ecological perspective on climate change driven by both social and climatic factors: The Santa River in Peru in Rodríguez, L. and I. Anderson (eds.) pp. 116-121. The Lima Declaration on Biodiversity and Climate Change: Contributions from Science to Policy for Sustainable Development. Technical Series No. 89. Montreal: Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. http://www.iai.int/?p=29213
 
Mark, B.G., A. French, M. Baraer, M. Carey, J. Bury, K.R. Young, M.H. Polk, O. Wigmore, P. Lagos, R. Crumley, J. McKenzie, L. Lautz. 2017. Glacier loss and hydro-social risks in the Peruvian Andes. Global and Planetary Change 159:61-76 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloplacha.2017.10.003
 
Polk, M.H., K.R. Young, M. Baraer, B.G. Mark, J.M. McKenzie, J. Bury and M. Carey. 2017. Exploring hydrologic connections between tropical mountain wetlands and glacier recession in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca. Applied Geography 78:94–103 doi: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2016.11.004.*
 
Young, K.R., A. Ponette-González, M.H. Polk, J.K. Lipton. 2017. Snowlines and treelines in the tropical Andes. Annals of the American Association of Geographers 107:429-440 doi: 10.1080/24694452.2016.1235479. *
 
Polk, M.H. and K.R. Young. 2016. Bofedales y los efectos de cambios ambientales através de un sistema socio-ecológico alto-andino (Peatlands and consequences of climate change in a high Andean socio-ecological system) in Postigo, J. and K.R. Young (eds.) pp. 283-301. Naturaleza Y Sociedad: Perspectivas Socio-Ecológicas Sobre Cambios Globales En América Latina (Nature and Society: Socio-Ecological Perspectives On Global Change in Latin America). Lima, Peru: Institúto de Estudios Peruanos.*
 
Sounny-Slitine, M. A., K. A. Tasker, K. F. Doubleday, M. H. Polk, B. R. Knight, and C. Schneider. 2015. On Making and Becoming a Graduate. The Southwestern Geographer 18:C1–C3.*
 
French, A., M. Arenas Aspilcueta, M. Baraer, B. Mark, J. McKenzie, R.J. Gómez López, K.R. Young, M.H. Polk, M. Carey, J. Bury. 2013. Las Áreas Naturales Protegidas Informan. Los impactos del cambio global en las áreas naturales protegidas y sus zonas de influencia: El caso del Parque Nacional Huascarán y la cuenca del Río Santa. Ed. No. 1. SERNANP, Lima, Peru. download
 
Bury, J., B.G. Mark, K.R. Young, J. McKenzie, M. Baraer, A. French, and M.H. Polk. 2013. New geographies of water and climate change in Peru: coupled natural and social transformations in the Santa River watershed. Annals of the American Association of Geographers 103:363–374. download
 
Polk, M.H., K.R. Young, and K.A. Crews-Meyer. 2005. Biodiversity conservation implications of landscape change in an urbanizing desert of Southwestern Peru. Urban Ecosystems 8(3): 313–334. download

 

*Please email me if you would like a copy.

Curriculum Vitae


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  • Department of Geography and the Environment

    The University of Texas at Austin
    305 E. 23rd Street, A3100
    RLP 3.306
    Austin, TX 78712
    512-471-5116