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Diane M. Erwin
Sr. Museum Scientist (Paleobotany Collections)

Diane M. Erwin


Phone: (510) 642-3921

Web page:

Research interests: Diane's current research focuses on western North American Tertiary plants and their evolution and changing distributions. She notes, "Plant communities are always changing. The fossil record gives us that unique window into how plants that lived millions of years ago have changed in form, distribution and associations, and then ask why the change."

Collections: Diane also manages the paleobotany collections, and so by combining research with curation hopes to improve their scientific value. "Scientists worldwide use our paleobotany collection data. However, they are not always able to verify the identifications so their results may be flawed. I'm hoping through published revisions to provide a more accurate fossil plant record, while updating the UCMP paleobotany collection."

Why paleobotany? "I took a plant morphology course in college that was taught from a paleobotanical perspective and was hooked immediately. I always had strong interests in botany, field biology, geology and geologic time, so I was thrilled to find that paleobotany combined them all."


O'Dell, R.E., D.M. Erwin, P. Holroyd, B.D. Rankin and M. Ibraheem El - Faramawi. 2017. Flora and Fauna of the Holocene Oil Canyon oil-sands from the poorly understood San Joaquin Desert Biozone. In: Reynolds, R.E. (ed.) ECSZ Does It: Revisiting the Eastern California Shear Zone, 2017 Desert Symposium Volume, pp. 308 - 314.   Read it

Holden, A.R., D.M. Erwin, K.N. Schick and J. Gross. 2015. Late Pleistocene galls from the La Brea Tar Pits and their implications for cynipine wasp and native plant distribution in southern California. Quaternary Research, 84: 358-367.  Read it

Holden, A.R., J.B. Koch, T. Griswold, D.M. Erwin, and J. Hall. 2014. Leafcutter Bee Nests and Pupae from the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits of Southern California: Implications for Understanding the Paleoenvironment of the Late Pleistocene. PLoS ONE 9(4): e94724. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094724.   Read it

Ernst, D. 2013. Scientists study ancient Petrified Forest pollen. Napa Valley Press Democrat, December 13, 2013. Notes: Local newspaper article written about the Calistoga Petrified Forest by Doug Ernst for the Napa Valley Press Democrat in which Diane Erwin was interviewed.  Read it

Erwin, D.M., L.H. Fisk, D. Lawler, S. Gaponoff, J. Lucas-Clark and J.A. Doyle. 2013. An Excursion to California’s Gold Country in the Northern Sierra Nevada. AASP-TPS Field trip guide, 79 pp. Notes: Guidebook for field trip led by Erwin et al. on October 24, 2013 in conjunction with AASP-TPS meeting held in San Francisco, CA.

Fisk, L.H., D.M. Erwin and W.P. Elder. 2013. Fieldtrip Guide to the Napa Valley, Calistoga Petrified Forest, Muir Redwoods,and Golden Gate Bridge Headlands in Northern California. 2013 AASP-TPS Annual meeting, San Francisco, CA,22 pp. Notes: Guide book for pre-conference field trip on October 20, 2013 held in conjunction with the 46th Annual AASP-TPS meeting, San Francisco, CA.

Holden, A., D.M. Erwin, K.N. Schick, J. Gross, and J. Hall. 2013. Traces in asphalt: New observations of Pleistocene plant – insect interactions from the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, California, USA. Botany 2013, New Orleans, LA.  Read it

Erwin, D.M. and J.A. Myers. 2012. Securidaca-like samaras from the late Eocene Badger's Nose paleoflora, Modoc Co., CA, USA. Botany 2012, Columbus, OH.  Read it

Wheeler, E., D.M. Erwin, and R. O'Dell. 2012. More Maastrichtian. Woods from the Moreno Formation of Central California. Botany 2012, Columbus, OH.   Read it

Burge, D.O., D.M. Erwin, M.B. Islam, J. Kellermann, S.W. Kembel, D.H. Wilken, P.S. Manos. 2011. Diversification of Ceanothus (Rhamnaceae) in the California Floristic Province. International Journal of Plant Sciences. 172:1137-1164.  Read it

Erwin, D.M., J.A. Myers, and H.E. Schorn. 2011. Are there Neogene "lowland" floras preserved near the modern-day crest of the central Sierra Nevada, CA? Botany 2011, St. Louis, MO.  Read it

Bartley, R.H., S.E. Bartley, D.J. Springer, and D.M. Erwin. New observations on the Middle Fork Eel River coal-bearing beds, Mendocino County, California, USA. International Journal of Coal Geology. 83(2-3):204-228.

Hren, M.T., M. Pagani, D.M. Erwin, and M. Brandon. 2010. Biomarker reconstruction of the early Eocene paleotopography and paleoclimate of the northern Sierra Nevada. Geology. 38:7-10.

Erwin, D.M., R.H. Bartley, S.E. Bartley, and D.J. Springer. 2009. A new paleoflora from the Miocene Middle Fork Eel River coal-bearing beds, Mendocino County, California, U.S.A. Botany and Mycology Meeting, Snowbird, UT.   Read it

Erwin, D.M. 2008. Late Eocene pond weeds from the Bull Run Basin, NV, USA. Botany 2008, Botanical Society of America Annual Meeting, University of British Columbia, Canada, July 26-30, Paper No. 652.  Read it

Hren, M.T., M. Pagani, M. Brandon, and D.M. Erwin. 2008. Paleoelevation reconstruction of the Sierra Nevada from compound-specific stable isotopes of fossil leaves. Geological Society of America, Annual Meeting, Abstracts with Programs, Paper No. 126-6 (on CD-ROM).  Read it

Simpson, A.G. and D.M. Erwin. 2008. A Western Interior origin for the chaparral shrub genus Arctostaphylos (Ericaceae) in California? Geological Society of America, Annual Meeting, Abstracts with Programs, Paper No. 277-10 (on CD-ROM.)  Read it

Erwin, D.M. and H.E. Schorn. 2007. Tufa-encrusted plants from Late Pleistocene Searles Lake, California, USA. Botany and Plant Biology Joint Congress, Chicago, IL, July 7-12, Poster Abstracts volume p. 280.  Read it

Erwin, D.M. and K.N. Schick. 2007. New Miocene oak galls (Cynipini) and their bearing on the history of cynipid wasps in western North America. Journal of Paleontology 81(3):568-580.  Read it

Schorn, H.E., J.A. Myers, and D.M. Erwin. 2007. Navigating the Neogene: An updated chronology of Neogene paleofloras from the western United States. Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg 258: 139-146.

Erwin, D.M. and H.E. Schorn. 2006. Tufa encrusted trees from Late Pleistocene Searles Lake, California. Pp. 1-28 in R.L. Kaldenberg (ed.), A festschrift honoring the contributions of California archaeologist Jay von Werlhof. Maturango Museum Publication No. 20, Maturango Press, Ridgecrest, CA.

Erwin, D.M., and H.E. Schorn. 2006. Pinus baileyi (section Pinus) from the Paleogene of Idaho, USA. American Journal of Botany 93(2):197-205.  Read it

Erwin, D.M., H.E. Schorn, J. Myers, A. Thompson, L. Kouwenberg, S.A. Stuart, and L. Fisk. 2006. Flora of the northern Sierra Nevada. Field trip guidebook. Botany 2006, Chico, California. 44 pp.

Myers, J., D.M. Erwin, and H.E. Schorn. 2006. Navigating the Neogene: updating the paleobotanical record of the later Cenozoic in the Far West. Advances in Paleobotany — Recognizing the contributions of David L. Dilcher and Jack A. Wolfe, Gainesville, Florida.  Read it

Stuart S.A., and D.M. Erwin. 2006. Fertile sporophytes of Azolla from the early Eocene Wind River flora, Wind River Basin, Wyoming, USA. Botanical Society of America meeting, Chico, California. Abstract #609.  Read it

Erwin, D.M., and H.E. Schorn. 2005. Revision of the conifers from the Eocene Thunder Mountain flora, Idaho, USA. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 137:125-145.

Erwin, D.M., H.E. Schorn, R.C. Smith, L.M. Levy, C.I. Millar, R.D. Westfall, J.C. King, and V.S. Moran. 2005. Nevada's buried treasure: the Lund Petrified Forest. Botanical Society of America meeting, Austin, Texas. Abstract #271.  Read it

Ratcliffe, B.C., D.M. Smith, and D.M. Erwin. 2005. Oryctoantiquus borealis, new genus and species from the Eocene of Oregon, USA, the world's oldest fossil dynastine and largest fossil scarabaeid (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Dynastinae). The Coleopterists Bulletin 59(1):127-135.  Read it

Erwin, D.M., and C.N. Miller. 2004. A new closed-cone pine from the Miocene of Nevada. Botanical Society of America meeting, Snowbird, Utah. Abstract #367.  Read it

Robinson, D.T, K.R. Aalto, J.A. Barron, D.M. Erwin, and A.S. Jayko. 2001. Marine inundation of a late Miocene forest: stratigraphy and tectonic evolution of the Saint George Formation, Crescent City, California. California Geology, May/June, pp. 10-22.

Schorn, H.E., and D.M. Erwin. 2001. The Tertiary history of North American megafossil conifers: the few, the proud, and oft times neglected. North American Paleontology Convention 2001, Berkeley, California. PaleoBios 21(2, suppl.):114. Abstract.

Erwin, D.M., and H.E. Schorn. 2000. Revision of Lyonothamnus A. Gray (Rosaceae) from the Neogene of western North America. International Journal of Plant Sciences 161(1):179-193.

Schorn, H.E., and D.M. Erwin. 2000. The impression record history and ecological diversification of Pseudotsuga Carriere (Pinaceae) in western North America during the later half of the Cenozoic. Botany 2000, Portland, Oregon. Abstract.  Read it