Diana F. Tomback

Profile portrait of Diana Tomback.
Ph.D. • Professor • Interim Chair • Biology Research Faculty
Department of Integrative Biology

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

Physical Location:
1150 12th Street
SI 4105
Denver, CO 80204


Office Hours: 

Tu, Th 11:30 am -1 pm, Science Bldg. (Speer wing) 4105. You may arrange an appointment at other times on Tuesday or Thursday or another day: email Diana.Tomback@ucdenver.edu. 

Please note: Office hours and lectures will not be held during Fall Break. Office hours may be rearranged occasionally if conflicts arise with instructor travel or university obligations. Notices will appear on Canvas.

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.

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 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, 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.

Recent selected publications

Tomback, D. F., R. E. Keane, R.A. Sniezko. 2022.  Why this special issue is focused on the high elevation five-needle white pines.  Commentary by the guest editors for special issue on Ecology and Restoration of High Elevation Five-Needle White Pines.  Forest Ecology and Management, 521 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2022.120425
Schoettle, A. W., K. S. Burns, S.T. McKinney, J. Krakowski, K.M. Waring, D. F. Tomback, M.  Davenport. 2022.  Integrating forest health condition and species adaptive capacities to infer and affect future trajectories of the high elevation five-needle pines. Special issue on Ecology and Restoration of High Elevation Five-Needle White Pines. Forest Ecology and Management, 521 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2022.120389
Tomback, D.F., and E. Sprague. 2022. The National Whitebark Pine Restoration Plan: restoration model for the high elevation five-needle white pines. Special issue on Ecology and Restoration of High Elevation Five-Needle White Pines. Forest Ecology and Management, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2022.120204
Tomback, D. F., Keane, R. E., Schoettle, A.W., Sniezko, R.A., Jenkins, M. B., Nelson, C. R., Bower, A. D., DeMastus, C. R., Guiberson, E., Krakowski, J., Murray, M. P., Pansing, E. R., Shamhart, J.  2022. Tamm Review: Current and recommended management practices for the restoration of whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis Engelm.), an imperiled high-elevation western North American forest tree. Special issue on Ecology and Restoration of High Elevation Five-Needle White Pines. Forest Ecology and Management, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2021.119929.
Gill, N.S., M. G. Turner, C. D. Brown, S. I. Glassman, S. L. Haire, W. D. Hansen, E. R. Pansing, S. B. St. Clair, and D. F. Tomback. 2022.  More fire, fewer forest legacies, and the rising influence of propagule dispersal limitation.  BioScience Published online 1/26/22.  https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article- abstract/doi/10.1093/biosci/biab139/6512408 
Keane, R. E., Schoettle, A. W., Tomback, D. F. 2021. Effective actions for managing resilient high elevation five-needle white pine forests in western North America at multiple scales under changing climates. Forest Ecology and Management 505, 119939. Published online 12/21 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2021.119939

Wheeler, B. E., A. J. Andrade, E. R. Pansing, and D. F. Tomback. 2021. Conifer canopy cover hinders digital estimation of understory plant cover in post-fire subalpine forests. Applied Vegetation Science Post‐fire conifer regeneration hinders digital estimation of understory plant cover in subalpine forest vegetation - Wheeler - - Applied Vegetation Science - Wiley Online Library

Andrade, A. J., D. F. Tomback, T. R. Seastedt, and S. Mellmann-Brown. 2021. Soil moisture regime and canopy closure structure subalpine understory development during the first three decades following fire.  Forest Ecology and Management https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2020.118783

Pansing, E. R., D. F. Tomback, and M. B. Wunder. 2020. Novel fire regimes increase extirpation risk in an upper subalpine conifer species of management concern.  Ecosphere 11(8): e03220  https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ecs2.3220 .

Sindewald, L. A., D. F. Tomback, and E. R. Neumeyer. 2020. Community structure and functional role of limber pine (Pinus flexilis) in treeline communities in Rocky Mountain National Park. Forests 11(8): https://doi.org/10.3390/f11080838

Williams, T. J., D. F. Tomback, N. Grevstad, and K. Broms. 2020.Temporal and energetic drivers of seed resource use by Clark’s nutcracker, keystone seed disperser of coniferous forests. Ecosphere 11(3): e03085. 10.1002/ecs2.3085 https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ecs2.3085

Degrassi, A. L., S. Brantley, C. R. Levine, J. Mohan, S. Record, D. F. Tomback, and A. M. Ellison.  2019. Loss of foundation species revisited: conceptual framework with lessons learned from eastern hemlock and whitebark pine. Ecosphere 10(11):e02917. 10.1002/ecs2.2917 www.esajournals.org

Pansing, E. R., and D. F. Tomback. 2019.  Survival of whitebark pine seedlings grown from direct seeding: implications for regeneration and restoration under climate change. Forests 10, 677; doi: 10.3390/f10080677.

Lea, M. V., J. Syring, T. Jennings, R. Cronn, L. P. Bruederle, J. Ramp Neale, and D. F. Tomback. 2018.  Development of nuclear micro-satellite loci for Pinus albicaulis Engelm. (Pinaceae), a conifer of conservation concern.  PLOS one, in press.

Wagner, A. C., D. F. Tomback, L. M. Resler, and E. R. Pansing. 2018. Whitebark pine prevalence and ecological function in the treeline communities of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, U.S.A.: Potential disruption by white pine blister rust. Forests 9: 635; doi: 10.3390/f9100635          

Pansing, E. R., D. F. Tomback, M. B. Wunder, J. P. French, and A. C. Wagner.  2017. Simulated seed dispersal reveals microsite- and community structure-based patterns of seed pilferage, germination, and seedling survival in whitebark pine. Ecology and Evolution. Doi: 10.1002/ece3.3421

McLane, A. J., C. Semeniuk, G. J. McDermid, D. F. Tomback, T. Lorenz, and D. Marceau.  2017.  Energetic behavioral-strategy prioritization of Clark’s nutcrackers in whitebark pine communities: An agent-based modeling approach.  Ecological Modelling 354:123-139.

Carver, A. R., J. D. Ross, D. J. Augustine, S. K. Skagen, A. M. Dwyer, D. F. Tomback, and M. B. Wunder.  2017. Weather radar data correlate to hail-induced mortality in grassland birds.  Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation  Doi: 10.1002/rse2.41.

Malanson, G. P., L. M. Resler, and D. F. Tomback. 2017. Ecotone response to environmental variability depends on stress gradient interactions.  Climate Change Responses  Doi: 10.1186/S40665-017-0029-4

Keane, R. E., L. M. Holsinger, M. R. Mahalovich, and D. F. Tomback. 2016.  Evaluation of future success of whitebark pine ecosystem restoration under climate change using simulation modelling.  Restoration Ecology.

Tomback, D. F., S. C. Blakeslee, A. C. Wagner, M. B. Wunder, L. M. Resler, J. C. Pyatt, S. Diaz.  2016.  Whitebark pine facilitation at treeline: Potential interactions for disruption by an invasive pathogen.  Ecology and Evolution

Pyatt, J. C., D. F. Tomback, S. C. Blakeslee, M. B. Wunder, L. M. Resler, L. A. Boggs, and H. Bevency.  2016. The importance of conifers for facilitation at treeline: Comparing biophysical characteristics of leeward microsites in whitebark pine communities. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 48(2) 427-444. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.165/AAAR0015-055.

Tomback, D. F., L. M. Resler, R. E. Keane, E. R. Pansing, A. J. Andrade, and A. C. Wagner.   2016. Community structure, biodiversity, and ecosystem services in treeline whitebark pine communities: potential impacts from a non-native pathogen.  Forests 7, 21:  doi:10.3390/f7010021

Leirfallom, S. B., R. E. Keane, D. F. Tomback, and S. Dubrowski. 2015. The effects of seed source health on whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) regeneration density after wildfire.  Canadian Journal of Forest Research 45:1597-1606. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/cjfr-2015-0043.

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 62:85-96.

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.

Biology 3411 Principles of Ecology
Biology 4974/5974  Evolution
Biology 4154/5154  Conservation Biology