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Robert Nowak, Ph.D.

Professor, Department Chair

Contact Information


  • Ph.D., Utah State University, 1984
  • M.S., Utah State University, 1980
  • B.S., University of Minnesota, St. Paul, 1977

Research Interests

Plant physiological ecology. Current research areas: 1) Invasion, competition, and ecology of exotic annual grasses, especially cheatgrass and red brome, in arid ecosystems. 2) Effects of global changes on vegetation dynamics and on plant ecophysiology and productivity. 3) Dynamics of water and nutrients in native plant communities and their effects on carbon balance, water balance, rooting dynamics, and competition for soil resources. 4) Ecology, physiology, and conservation of rare or endemic plant species. 5) Effects of de-icing compounds on vegetation in the Lake Tahoe basin.


  • Shang, Z., Li, X. R., Nowak, R. S., Wu, P., Gao, Y. H., Zhao, Y., Huang, L., Hu, Y. G., Jia, R. L. 2012, Effect of sand-stabilizing shrubs on soil respiration in a temperate desert., Plant and Soil, doi 10.1007/s11104-012-1465-3.
  • Perkins, L., Nowak, R. S. 2012, Native and non-native grasses generate common types of plant-soil feedbacks by altering soil nutrients and microbial communities., Oikos, 122, 199-208.
  • Li, J., Yu, B., Zhao, C., Nowak, R. S., Zhao, Z., Sheng, Y., Li, J 2012, Physiological and morphological responses of Tamarix ramosissima and Populus euphratica to altered groundwater availability., Tree Physiology, doi: 10.1093/treephys/tps120.
    Perkins, L., Nowak, R. S. 2012, Soil conditioning and plant-soil feedbacks affect competitive relationships between native and invasive grasses., Plant Ecology, 213, 1337-1344.
  • Mazzola MB, Chambers JC, Blank RR, Pyke DA, Schupp EW, Allcock KG, Doescher PS, Nowak RS. 2011, Effects of resource availability and propagule supply on native species recruitment in sagebrush ecosystems invaded by Bromus tectorum., Biological Invasions 13:513-526. Read More...
  • Ferguson, S. D., Nowak, R. S. 2011, Transitory effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 on fine root dynamics in an arid ecosystem do not increase long-term soil carbon input from root litter, New Phytologist, 190, 953-967 Read More...
    Munck, I. A., Bennett, C. M., Camilli, K. S., Nowak, R. S. 2010, Long-term impact of de-icing salts on tree health in the Lake Tahoe Basin: environmental influences and interactions with insects and diseases., Forest Ecology and Management, 260, 1218-1229
  • Clark, N., Apple, M., Nowak, R. S. 2010, The effects of elevated CO2 on root respiration rates of two Mojave Desert shrubs., Global Change Biology, 16, 1566-1575.
  • Cable, J. M., Ogle, K., Lucas, R. W., Huxman, T. E., Loik, M. E., Smith, S. D., Tissue, D. T., Ewers, B. E., Pendall, E., Welker, J. M., Charlet, T. N., Cleary, M., Griffith, A., Nowak, R. S., Rogers, M., Steltzer, H., Sullivan, P. F., van Gestel, N. C. 2010, The temperature responses of soil respiration in deserts: a seven desert synthesis., Biogeochemistry
  • Clark, N., Rillig, M., Nowak, R. S. 2009, Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal abundance in the Mojave Desert: Seasonal dynamics and impacts of elevated CO2, Journal of Arid Environments, 73, 834-843
  • Devoe, N., Nowak, R. S., Florence, S. 2009, Effective management of invasive plants., Rangelands, 31, 21-24.
  • Allen, E., Nowak, R. S. 2008, Effect of pinyon-juniper tree cover on the soil seed bank., Rangeland Ecology & Management, 61(1), 63-73.
  • Allen, E., Chambers, J., Nowak, R. S. 2008, Effects of a spring prescribed burn on the soil seed bank in sagebrush steppe exhibiting pinyon-juniper expansion., Western North American Naturalist, 68, 265-277.

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