Claudio Latorre Hidalgo
Departamento de Ecología
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Casilla 114-D, Santiago, Chile
Correo electrónico:
Teléfono: 56-2-3542610
Fax: 56-2-6862621

My current research is focused on understanding past and modern plant species distributions and associated climates in the Atacama Desert and Pacific slope of the Andes of northern Chile. Over the last few years, my collaborators and I have been using midden records (bones, plant material, insects and feces accumulated by rodents, encased in a solid crystalline matrix of urine, and preserved for thousands of years in rock shelters and caves) from the Atacama and adjacent semiarid regions to identify fluctuations in the regional hydrological cycle over the last 40,000-50,000 years. The Andes Cordillera of northern Chile (in the central Andes) straddles both the tropical and extratropical rainfall belts. My main research objective is to increase our understanding of how these climate systems have interacted in the past (through investigating the chronology, direction and structure of climate changes) and how they might do so in the future. On the other hand, as our knowledge on the distribution and diversity of past desert plant communities in northern Chile increases, we seek to understand the implications for biogeography and eventually, conservation of modern desert communities, many of which have been highly dynamic through time. Other recent lines of collaborative research involve aspects related to past climate and groundwater formation in northern Chile and the recent history of the unique Tillandsia fog ecosystems found in northern Chile.

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Licenciatura en Biología, 1992.
University of Arizona, M.Sc. in Geosciences, 1996.
Universidad de Chile, Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2002.
Postdoctoral Associate, Universidad de Chile, 2002-2004.

Present academic positions:
Assistant Professor, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.
Associate Investigator, Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity (

Honors and prizes:
BBVA Prize in Research on Conservation Biology, 2004.
"Frontiers in Science" Program, Chilean Academy of Sciences, 2004-2006.


Carrevedo, M. L., M. Frugone, C. Latorre, A. Maldonado, P. Bernardez, R. Prego, D. Cardenas & B Valero-Garces (2015) A 700-year record of climate and environmental change from a high Andean lake: Laguna del Maule, central Chile (36° S) The Holocene 25 (6):956-972


Pigati, J.S., C. Latorre, J. A. Rech, J. L. Betancourt, K. E. Martinez &  J. R. Budahn (2012) Accumulation of impact markers in desert wetlands and implications for the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis. PNAS 109 (19):7208-7212.    


Gayo, E. M., C. Latorre, C. M. Santoro, A. Maldonado & R. De Pol-Holz (2012) Hydroclimate variability in the low-elevation Atacama Desert over the last 2500 yr. Climate of the Past 8(1):287–306.


Diaz, F. P., C. Latorre, A. Maldonado, J. Quade & J. L. Betancourt (2012) Rodent middens reveal episodic, longdistance plant colonizations across the hyperarid Atacama Desert over the last 34,000 years. Journal of Biogeography 39:510–525.


Gayo, E.M,  C. Latorre, T. E. Jordan, P. L. Nester, S. A. Estay, K. F. Ojeda & M. C. Santoro (2012) Late Quaternary hydrological and ecological changes in the hyperarid core of the northern Atacama Desert (~ 21°S). Earth-Science Reviews 113(3–4):120–140.


Marquet, P., C. M. Santoro, C. Latorre, V. G. Standen, S. R. Avades, M. M. Rivadeneira, B. Arriaza & M. E. Hochberg (2012) Emergence of social complexity among coastal hunter-gatherers in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. PNAS 109(37):14754-114760.


Maldonado, A., C. Méndez, P. Ugalde, D. Jackson, R. Seguel & C. Latorre (2010) Early Holocene climate change and human occupation along the semiarid coast of north-central Chile. Journal of Quaternary Science 69: 343–360.


Hoke, G.D., C.N. Garzione, D.C. Araneo, C. Latorre, M.R. Strecker & K.J. Williams (2009) The stable isotope altimeter: Do Quaternary pedogenic carbonates predict modern elevations?. Geology 37: 1015-1018.


Moreno, A., C.M. Santoro, C. Latorre (2009) Climate change and human occupation in the northernmost Chilean Altiplano over the last ca. 11500 cal. a BP. Journal of Quaternary Science 24: 373-382.


Placzek, C., J. Quade, J.L. Betancourt, P.J. Patchett, J.A Rech, C. Latorre, A. Matmon, C. Holmgren & N.B. English (2009) Climate in the dry central Andes over geologic, millennial, and interannual timescales. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 96: 386-397.


Santoro, C. M. & C. Latorre (2009) Propuesta metodológica interdisciplinaria para poblamientos humanos Pleistoceno tardío/Holoceno temprano, precordillera de Arica, Desierto de Atacama Norte. Andes 7: 13-35.


Holmgren, C.A., E. Rosello, C. Latorre &  J.L. Betancourt (2008) Late-Holocene fossil rodent middens from the Arica region of northernmost Chile. Journal of Arid Environments 72: 677-686.    


Quade, J., J.A. Rech, J.L. Betancourt, C. Latorre, B. Quade, K.A. Rylander & T. Fisher (2008) Paleowetlands and regional climate change in the central Atacama Desert, northern Chile. Quaternary Research 69: 343–360.


Williams, A., C.M. Santoro, M.A. Smith & C. Latorre (2008) The impact of ENSO in the Atacama desert and Australian arid zone: exploratory time series analysis of archaeological records. Chungara 40: 245-259.


Behrensmeyer, A.K., J. Quade, T.E. Cerling, J. Kappelman, I.A. Khan, P. Copeland, L. Roe, J. Hicks, P. Stubblefield, B.J. Willis & C. Latorre (2007) The structure and rate of late Miocene expansion of C4 plants: Evidence from lateral variation in stable isotopes in paleosols of the Siwalik Group, northern Pakistan. Geological Society of America Bulletin 119: 1486-1505.


Latorre, C., P.I. Moreno, G. Vargas, A. Maldonado, R. Villa-Martínez, J.J. Armesto, C. Villagrán, M. Pino, L. Núñez & M. Grosjean (2007) Late Quaternary environments and paleoclimate. In: (T. Moreno & W. Gibbons, eds), “The Geology of Chile”, pp. 309-328 . London Geological Society Press, London


Nester, P.L., E. Gayó, C. Latorre, T.E. Jordan & N. Blanco (2007) Perennial stream discharge in the hyperarid Atacama Desert of northern Chile during the latest Pleistocene. Proceedings on the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 104: 19724-19729.


Quade, J., J.A. Rech, C. Latorre, J.L. Betancourt, E. Gleeson & M.T.K. Arroyo (2007) Soils at the hyperarid margin: The isotopic composition of soil carbonate from the Atacama Desert, Northern Chile. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 71: 3772-3795


Arroyo, M.T.K., J.J. Armesto, F. Bozinovic, L.A. Cavieres, J.R. Gutiérrez, C. Latorre, P. Marquet, D. Soto & F.A. Squeo (2006) Ciencias ambientales. Diagnóstico y mirada hacia el futuro. In: (J. Allende, J. Babul, S. Martínez & T. Ureta, eds), "Análisis y Proyecciones de la Ciencia Chilena 2005", pp. 295-331. Academia Chilena de Ciencias, Santiago.

 -1_Latorre_2006_Biodiversidad de Chile.pdf

Latorre, C. (2006) Fluctuaciones climáticas cuaternarias y sus impactos sobre la biodiversidad de Chile. In: (P. Saball, M.T.K. Arroyo, J.C. Castilla, C. Estades, J.M. Ladrón De Guevara, S. Larraín, C. Moreno, F. Rivas, J. Rovira, A. Sánchez & L. Sierralta, eds), "Biodiversidad de Chile. Patrimonio y Desafíos", pp. 60-67. Comisión Nacional del Medio Ambiente, Santiago.


Latorre, C., J.L. Betancourt & M.T.K. Arroyo (2006) Late Quaternary vegetation and climate history of a perennial river canyon in the Río Salado basin (22ºS) of Northern Chile. Quaternary Research 65: 450-466.


Latorre, C., J.L. Betancourt, J.A. Rech, J. Quade, C. Holmgren, C. Placzek, A.J.C. Maldonado, M. Vuille & K.A. Rylander (2005) Late Quaternary history of the Atacama Desert. In: (M. Smith & P. Hesse, eds), "23º S. The Archaeology and Environmental History of the Southern Deserts", pp. 73- 90. National Museum of Australia Press, Canberra.

 -1_Maldonado_etal_2005_ Quat_Science.pdf

Maldonado, A., J.L. Betancourt, C. Latorre & C. Villagrán (2005) Pollen analyses from a 50,000-yr rodent midden series in the southern Atacama Desert (25º30'S). Journal of Quaternary Science 20: 493-507.

Latorre, C., J.L. Betancourt, K.A. Rylander, J. Quade & O. Matthei (2003) A vegetation history from the arid prepuna of northern Chile (22-23º S) over the last 13,500 years. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 194: 223-246.
Kuch, M., N. Rohland, J.L. Betancourt, C. Latorre, S. Steppan & H.N. Poinar (2002) Molecular analysis of an 11,700- year-old rodent midden from the Atacama Desert, Chile. Molecular Ecology 11: 913-924.
 Latorre, C. (2002) Paleomadrigueras: Cambio climático en el Atacama. Investigación y Ciencia (España), Junio: 36-37.
Latorre, C., J.L. Betancourt, K.A. Rylander & J. Quade (2002) Vegetation invasions into absolute desert: A 45,000 yr rodent midden record from the Calama-Salar de Atacama basins, northern Chile (lat 22º-24º S). Geological Society of America Bulletin 114: 349-366.
Quade, J., J. Rech, J.L. Betancourt & C. Latorre (2001) Response: Mid-Holocene climate in the South-Central Andes: humid or dry? Science 292: 2391-2392.
Betancourt, J.L., C. Latorre, J.A. Rech, J. Quade & K.A. Rylander (2000) A 22,000-year record of monsoonal precipitation from northern Chile's Atacama Desert. Science 289: 1542-1546.

Romo, M., V. Castro, C. Villagrán & C. Latorre (1999) La transición entre las tradiciones de los oasis del desierto y de las quebradas altas del Loa Superior: etnobotánica del valle del Río Grande, 2da Región, Chile. Chungara 31: 319-360.
Villagrán, C., V. Castro, G. Sánchez, L.F. Hinojosa & C. Latorre (1999) La tradición altiplánica: estudio etnobotánico en los Andes de Iquique, Primera Región, Chile. Chungara 31: 81-186.

Villagrán, C., R. Villa, L.F. Hinojosa, G. Sánchez, M. Romo, A. Maldonado, L. Cavieres, C. Latorre, J. Cuevas, S. Castro, C. Papic & A. Valenzuela (1999) Etnozoología Mapuche: un estudio preliminar. Revista Chilena de Historia Natural 72: 595-627.
Latorre, C. (1998) Paleontología de mamíferos del Alero Tres Arroyos I, Tierra del Fuego, XII Región, Chile. Anales del Instituto de la Patagonia, Serie Ciencias Naturales 26: 77-90.

Villagrán, C., V. Castro, G. Sánchez, M. Romo, C. Latorre, & L.F. Hinojosa (1998) La tradición surandina del desierto: etnobotánica del área del Salar de Atacama (Provincia de El Loa, Región de Antofagasta, Chile). Estudios Atacameños 16: 7-105.
Latorre, C., J. Quade & W.C. MacIntosh (1997) The expansion of C4 grasses and global change in the late Miocene: stable isotope evidence from the Americas. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 146: 83-96.