Peter Douglas

Assistant Professor

Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences
3450 University St.
Montreal, Quebec
Canada H3A 0E8

Email: peter.douglas [at]

Tel: 514.404.7125

Research website






Both the Earth’s water and carbon cycles are highly sensitive to climate change, with important implications for both the future of global water resources and possible carbon-cycle feedbacks to global warming. My research is centered around analyzing the abundance of rare isotopes in individual organic molecules to trace water and carbon-cycle change in time and space. Much of my work focuses on analyses of freshwater and coastal sediments in order to understand both modern biogeochemical processes and environmental change on timescales ranging from months to millions of years. Specific questions I am interested in include: how methane production by microorganisms in aquatic environments responds to environmental change; how the transport and storage of organic carbon in terrestrial ecosystems is influenced by climate change and human land use; and how precipitation and ecohydrology have been affected by past intervals of global and regional climate change. I also have a long-standing interest in how ancient societies both altered biogeochemical cycles and were impacted by past climate change.

Recent Publications

Douglas P.M.J., Stolper D., Smith D., Walter Anthony K., Paull C., Dallimore S., Wik M., Crill P., Winterdahl M., Eiler J. and Sessions A. L. (2016)  Diverse origins of Arctic and Subarctic methane point source emissions identified with multiply-substituted isotopologues. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta v. 188, p. 163-188.

Douglas, P.M.J., Demarest, A.A., Brenner, M., and Canuto, M.A. (2016) Impacts of Climate Change on the Collapse of Lowland Maya Civilization. Annual Reviews of Earth and Planetary Sciences v. 44, p. 613-645

Douglas, P. M. J., Brenner, M., Curtis, J. H. (2016) Methods and future directions for paleoclimatology in the Maya Lowlands: Global and Planetary Change, v. 138, p. 3-24.

Douglas, P. M. J., Pagani, M., Eglinton, T. I., Brenner, M., Hodell, D. A., Curtis, J. H., and Canuto M. A. (2015) Drought, agricultural adaptation and sociopolitical collapse in the Maya Lowlands: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, v. 112, p. 5607-5612.

Stolper, D. A., Martini, A. M., Clog, M., Douglas, P. M. J., Shusta, S. S., Valentine, D. L., Sessions, A. L., and Eiler, J. E. (2015) Distinguishing and understanding thermogenic and biogenic sources of methane using multiply substituted isotopologues: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 161, p. 219-247.

Coutros, P., and Douglas, P. M. J. (2015) Coring Lake Fati and settlement archaeology of the Middle Niger Lakes Region: African Archaeological Review, v. 32, p. 249-266.

Douglas, P. M. J., Pagani, M., Eglinton, T. I., Brenner, M., Hodell, D. A., Ma, K. F., Curtis, J. H., and Breckinridge, A. (2014) Pre-aged plant waxes in tropical lake sediments and their influence on molecular paleoclimate proxy records: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 141, p. 346-364.

Douglas, P. M. J., Affek, H. P, Ivany, L. C., Houben, A. J. P., Sijp, W. P., Sluijs, A., Schouten, S., and Pagani, M. (2014) Pronounced zonal heterogeneity in Eocene southern high-latitude sea surface temperatures: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, v. 111, p. 6582-6587.

Sijp, W. P., Djikstra, H. A., Floegel, S., von der Heydt, A. S., Douglas, P. M. J., and Bijl, P.K. (2014) The role of ocean gateways on cooling climate on long time scales: Global and Planetary Change, v. 119, p. 1-22.

Complete list