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Diane Pataki

Professor & Associate Vice President of Research, UofU


Graduate Program Membership:

Office/Building: ASB 510A
Phone: 801-585-1899
Email: diane.pataki@utah.edu
Pataki Lab: http://pataki.biology.utah.edu/

Research Statement


Plants and soils provide many services for society, such as the provision of food, water and materials; the regulation of atmospheric composition, hydrology, and water quality; and cultural and aesthetic services. In urban ecosystems where landscapes are intensively managed, there are also potential environmental and economic costs of creating and maintaining different soil and vegetation types. However, the environmental benefits and costs of urban landscapes have seldom been directly measured. We use a variety of methods to measure urban plant and soil processes and translate these processes into ecosystem services and costs of interest to urban residents, managers, and policy-makers. We have a number of ongoing projects focusing on the role of different plant species, landscape types, and land cover in influencing urban climate, water resources, atmospheric composition, and greenhouse gas emissions. We are investigating these processes in Los Angeles, California and Salt Lake City, Utah with direct measurements of plant physiology, ecosystem water balance, soil nutrient cycling, and greenhouse gases. Current projects include: Drivers of biodiversity in urban forests, including attitudes and preferences for species and plant functional types Environmental costs and benefits of different types of urban landscapes The water use and water relations of plants in irrigated urban landscapes The role of urban landscapes in urban energy and water balance Carbon cycling, nitrogen cycling, and biodiversity in urban lawns, part of a study of the "ecological homogenization" of urban America

Research Interests


General Interests

Selected Publications


  • Litvak E, McCarthy HR, Pataki DE. 2017. A method for estimating transpiration of irrigated urban trees in California. Landscape and Urban Planning 158: 48-61.
  • Groffman PM, Cadenasso ML, Cavendar-Bares J, Childers DL, Grimm NB, Grove JM, Hobbie SE, Hutrya LR, Jenerette GD, McPhearson T, Pataki DE, Pickett STA, Pouyat RV, Rosi-Marshall E, Ruddell BL. 2017. Moving towards a new urban systems science. Ecosystems 20:38
  • Gillespie TW, de Goede J, Aguilar L, Jenerette GD, Fricker GA, Avolio ML, Pincelt S, Johnston T, Clarke LW. Pataki DE. 2016. Predicting tree species richness in urban forests. Urban Ecosystems doi:10.1007/s11252-016-0633-2.
  • Jenerette GD, Clarke LW, Avolio ML, Pataki DE, Gillespie TW, Pincetl S, Nowak DJ, Hutyra LR, McHale M, McFadden JP, Alonzo M. 2016. Climate tolerances and trait choices shape continental patterns of urban tree biodiversity. Global Ecology and Biogeography 25(11):1367-1376.
  • Litvak E, Pataki DE. 2016. Evapotranspiration of urban lawns in a semi-arid environment: an in situ evaluation of microclimatic conditions and watering recommendations. Journal of Arid Environments 135: 87-96.

Courses Taught


  • Biol 5440: Urban Ecology