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CLAS Faculty & Staff Directory

Diana F. Tomback, Ph.D.




Office Location:
SI 4105

My Website:
Forest Ecology Tomback Lab »

Office Hours:
Starting Aug. 20th to Dec. 15th Tentative: T 11:30-12:30p THU 2:00-3:00p Or by appointment

Phone: 303-315-7642

Fax: 303-315-7601

Curriculum Vitae »

Department of Integrative Biology »

Expertise Areas:
The evolution, ecology, and population biology of bird-dispersed pines and their corvid dispersers; and, the conservation and restoration of five-needle white pines in western North America.

My Addresses:

Mailing Address:
Department of Integrative Biology
Campus Box 171
P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364

Physical Location:
1151 Arapahoe
SI 2071
Denver, CO 80204

Member of the CLAS Speakers Bureau

University of California at Santa Barbara        1972-1977            Ph.D.                     Biological Sciences

University of California at Los Angeles            1971-1972            M.A.                      Zoology

University of California at Los Angeles            1966-1970            B.A.                        Zoology

Diana Tomback is Professor (and Associate Chair) of Integrative Biology at the University of Colorado Denver.  Her expertise includes evolutionary ecology, with application to forest ecology and conservation biology. She is known for her studies of Clark’s nutcracker, a bird of high mountain forests, and its interaction with several white pine species, particularly whitebark pine, leading to her election in 1994 as Fellow of the American Ornithologists' Union.  Her research over time has revealed major ecological and evolutionary consequences to pines from avian seed dispersal, including growth form, population structure, regeneration biology, and the effects of exotic disease and mountain pine beetles on the bird-pine mutualism. Tomback was lead organizer and editor of the book, Whitebark Pine Communities: Ecology and Restoration, published by Island Press in 2001. This latter work has grown in significance, with the recent status review of whitebark pine under the Endangered Species Act by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Dr. Tomback’s current research involves studies of the functional role of whitebark pine at treeline, and the effects of whitebark pine mortality on seed dispersal by Clark’s nutcracker in the central and northern Rocky Mountains.  In 2001, Tomback together with several colleagues started the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation http://www.whitebarkfound.org, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit based in Missoula, MT.  The WPEF is dedicated to the restoration of whitebark pine ecosystems and educating the public and resource management agencies about the importance of this pine.  She has served as volunteer Director of this organization since its inception.


Selected recent publications

Smith-McKenna, E. K., G. P. Malanson, L. M. Resler, L. W. Carstensen, S. P. Prisley, and D. F. Tomback.  2014.  Cascading effects of feedbacks, disease, and climate change on alpine treeline dynamics.  Environmental Modelling and Software, in press.

Card, D. C.,  D. R. Schield, J. Reyes-Velasco, M. K. Fujita, A. L. Andrew, S. J. Oyler-McCance, J. A. Fike, D. F. Tomback, R. P. Ruggiero, T. A. Castoe. 2014. Two low coverage bird genomes and a comparison of reference-guided versus de novo genome assemblies.  PloS one 9(9) e106649.  Doi: 10.1371/Journal.Pone.0106649.

Resler, L. M., Y.  Shao, D.  F. Tomback, and G. P. Malanson.  2014. Predicting functional role and occurrence of whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) at alpine treeline: Model accuracy and variable importance.  Annals of the Association of American Geographers 104 (4): 703-722. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00045608.2014.910072.

Tomback, D. F., K. G. Chipman, L. M. Resler, E. K. Smith-McKenna, and C. M. Smith.  2014. Relative abundance and functional role of whitebark pine at treeline in the northern Rocky Mountains.  Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research  46(2):407-418. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1657/1938-4246-46.2.407.

Smith-McKenna, E. K., L. M. Resler, D. F. Tomback, H. Zhang, and G. P. Malanson.  2013. Topographic influences on the distribution of white pine blister rust in Pinus albicaulis treeline communities.   Écoscience 20(3):215-229.

Barker, F. K., S. Oyler-McCance, and D. F. Tomback. 2013.  Blood from a turnip: tissue origin of low-coverage shotgun sequencing libraries affects recovery of mitogenome sequences.  Mitochondrial DNA.  DOI: 10.3109/19401736.2013.840588

Keane, R E., D. F. Tomback, C.A. Aubry, C.A., A.D. Bower, E.M. Campbell, C.L. Cripps, M.B. Jenkins, M. F. Mahalovich, M.  Manning, S.T. McKinney, M.P. Murray, D.L. Perkins, D.P. Reinhart, C. Ryan, A.W. Schoettle, C.M. Smith. 2012.  A range-wide restoration strategy for whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis).  Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-279.  Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 108 p.

Oyler-McCance, S. A., J. A. Fike, T. A. Castoe, D. F. Tomback, M. B. Wunder, and T. D. Schaming. 2012.  Development and characterization of thirteen microsatellite loci in Clark’s nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana).  Conservation Genetics Resources doi 10.1007/s 12686-012-9789-0

Barringer, L., D. F. Tomback, M. B. Wunder, and S. T. McKinney.  2012. Whitebark pine stand condition, tree abundance, and cone production as predictors of visitation by Clark’s Nutcracker. PloS one 7(5): e37663. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037663

Castoe, T.A., A. W. Poole, A. P. de Koning, K. L. Jones, D. F. Tomback, S. J. Oyler-McCance, E. N. Smith, and D. D. Pollock.  2012. Rapid microsatellite identification from Illumina paired-end genomic sequencing in two birds and a snake.  PLoS one 7(2): e30953. doi: 10.137/journal .pone.0030953

McKinney, S. T., and D. F. Tomback.  2011.  Altered community dynamics in Rocky Mountain whitebark pine forests and the potential for accelerating declines.  Pages 45-78 in:  Mountain Ecosystems:   Dynamics, Management and Conservation. K.E. Richards, ed.  Nova Science Publishers, Inc., Hauppauge, N.Y.

Wenny, D. G., T. L. DeVault, M. D. Johnson, D. Kelly, Ç. ┼×ekercio─člu, D. F. Tomback, and C. J. Whelan. 2011.  On the need to quantify ecosystem services provided by birds.  Perspectives in Ornithology.  The Auk 128:1-14.

Tomback, D.F., P. Achuff, A.W. Schoettle, J.W. Schwandt, and R. J. Mastrogiuseppe. 2011.  The magnificent high-elevation five-needle white pines: Ecological roles and future outlook. Plenary presentation.  Pp. 2 to 28. In:  Keane, R.E., D.F. Tomback, M.P. Murray, C. M. Smith, eds.  Proceedings: “High-Five” symposium: the future of high-elevation five-needle white pines in western North America. Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation. June 28-30, 2010, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  Proceedings RMRS-P-63: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Ft. Collins, CO.

Murray, M. P., and D. F. Tomback.  2010.  Clark’s Nutcrackers harvest sugar pine seeds from cones.  Western North American Naturalist 70 (3):413-414.

Tomback, D. F., and P. Achuff. 2010. Blister rust and western forest biodiversity: Ecology, values, and outlook for white pines. Invited contribution for special issue.  Forest Pathology 40:186-225.

McKinney, S. T., C. E. Fiedler, and D. F. Tomback. 2009. Invasive pathogen threatens bird-pine mutualism:  implications for sustaining a high-elevation ecosystem.  Ecological Applications 19:597-607.

Tillman-Sutela, E., A. Kauppi, K. Karppinen, and D. F Tomback. 2008. Variant maturity in seed structures of Pinus albicaulis (Engelm.) and Pinus sibirica (Du Tour): key to an unusual soil seed bank?  Trees 22:225-236 (published online in 2007)

Resler, L. M., and D. F. Tomback. 2008. Blister rust prevalence in krummholz whitebark pine: Implications for treeline dynamics.  Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 40: 161-170.  

Malanson, G. P., D.R. Butler, D. B. Fagre, S. J. Walsh, D. F. Tomback, L. D. Daniels, L. . Resler, W. K. Smith, D. J. Weiss, D. L. Peterson, A. G. Bunn, C. A. Hiemstra, D. Liptzin, P. S. Bourgeron, Z. Shen, and C. Millar.  2007.  Alpine treeline in western North America: linking organism-to-landscape dynamics. Invited contribution for special issue on alpine treeline. Physical Geography 28: 378-396.

Tomback, D. F., and L. M. Resler.  2007.  Invasive pathogens at treeline: consequences for treeline dynamics.  Invited contribution for special section on alpine treeline.  Physical Geography 28 (5):397-418.

McKinney, S. T., and D. F. Tomback. 2007. The influence of white pine blister rust on seed dispersal in whitebark pine.  Canadian Journal of Forest Research 37:1044-1057.

Other selected publications

Tomback, D.F., S. F. Arno, and R. E. Keane, editors.  2001.  Whitebark Pine Communities: Ecology and Restoration.  Island Press, Washington, D.C.

Tomback, D.F., A.J. Anderies, K.S. Carsey, M.L. Powell, and S. Mellman-Brown.  2001.  Delayed seed germination in whitebark pine and regeneration patterns following the Yellowstone fires.  Ecology 82:2587-2600.

Feldman, R., D.F. Tomback, and J. Koehler.  1999. Cost of mutualism: competition, tree morphology, and pollen cone production in limber pine clusters. Ecology 80:324-329.

Bruederle, L.P., D.F. Tomback, K.K. Kelly, and R.C. Hardwick. 1998.  Population genetic structure in a bird-dispersed pine, Pinus albicaulis Engelm.  (Pinaceae).  Canadian Journal of Botany 76: 83-90.

Tomback, D.F. 1998.  Clark’s Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana).  In The Birds of North America, No. 331, A. Poole and F. Gill (eds.).  The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, DC, 24 pp. (peer-reviewed)

Tomback, D.F., J.K. Clary, J. Koehler, R.J. Hoff, and S.F. Arno.  1995.  The effects of blister rust on post-fire regeneration of whitebark pine: the Sundance Burn of northern Idaho.  Conservation Biology, 9:654-664.

Carsey, K.S., and D.F. Tomback.  1994.  Growth form distribution and genetic relationships in tree clusters of Pinus flexilis, a bird-dispersed pine.  Oecologia 98:402-411.

Tomback, D.F., F.-K. Holtmeier, H. Mattes, K.S. Carsey, and M.L. Powell.  1993.  Tree clusters and growth from distribution in Pinus cembra, a bird-dispersed pine.  Arctic and Alpine Research 25:374-381.

Tomback, D.F., S.K. Sund, and L.A. Hoffmann.  1993.  Post-fire regeneration of Pinus albicaulis: height-age relationships, age structure, and microsite characteristics.  Canadian Journal of Forest Research 23:113-119.

Tomback, D.F., and Y.B. Linhart.  1990. The evolution of bird-dispersed pines.  Evolutionary Ecology, 4:185-219.

Keane, R.E., S.F. Arno , J.K. Brown, and D.F. Tomback.  1990. Modelling stand dynamics in whitebark pine forests.  Ecological Modelling, 51:73-95.

Tomback, D.F.  1986. Post-fire regeneration of krummholz whitebark pine: a consequence of nutcracker seed caching.  Madroño 33:100-110.

Linhart, Y.B. and D.F. Tomback.  1985. Seed dispersal by Clark's nutcrackers causes multi-trunk growth form in pines.  Oecologia 67:107-110.

Tomback, D.F.  1982. Dispersal of whitebark pine seeds by Clark's Nutcracker: a mutualism hypothesis. Journal of Animal Ecology 51:451-467.

Tomback, D.F. 1980.   How nutcrackers find their food stores.  Condor 82:10-19.

Tomback, D.F.  1978. Foraging strategies of Clark's Nutcracker.  Living Bird 16:123-161.




Biology 3411 Principles of Ecology

Biology 4974/5974  Evolution

Biology 4154/5154  Conservation Biology

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