Pataki Lab

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 disservices 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 the Los Angeles metropolitan area with direct measurements of plant physiology, ecosystem water balance, soil nutrient cycling, and greenhouse gases.

Current projects include:

  • Biogeochemistry and global warming potential of urban and surburban lawns
  • The environmental impacts of tree planting in Los Angeles and the implications for decision-making related to the Million Tree Initiative
  • Spatial mapping of plant and soil isotope tracers in the Los Angeles Basin
  • Greenhouse gas sources across urban to rural gradients in southern California
  • Plant water relations and ecohydrology of urban landscapes
Research Group Information
Lab Phone: 
Lab Location: 
Croul Hall, Room 2224
Research Area: 
Biogeochemical Cycles