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About Thomas P. Rooney

My students and I work on both basic and applied problems in population ecology, community ecology, and conservation biology. Research in my lab addresses these three broad questions:
1. How do deer shape community composition and structure? By foraging selectively, deer affect the growth and survival of many herb, shrub, and tree species. Knock-on effects extend through vegetation, potentially altering gastropod, arthropod, bird and mammal communities. Because white-tailed deer occupy a broad range of habitats and can reproduce rapidly under favorable conditions, their populations have increased sharply in recent decades throughout much of the eastern United States. High deer densities create management conflicts in many parks and natural areas, as large numbers of deer have severe and often irreversible impacts on plant communities. My research investigates the web of interactions that connect deer to other organisms through changes in resource availability and quality. I am a founding member of the Forest Ungulate Research Network--an international collaborative group seeking sustainable solutions in the management of wild ungulates and natural resources management.
2. What is the velocity of biodiversity loss, how is community composition changing through time, and to what extent can these changes be attributed to human activities? Both human population growth and natural resource overexploitation stress natural systems. My students, collaborators and I try to understand how community composition will respond to future stress by looking back in time, observing the types of changes that have occurred during past decades while identifying the putative drivers of these changes. We combine information about species composition, management history, and landscape context within a "natural experiment" framework to identify patterns and processes contributing to changes in biodiversity.
3. How do we restore forest ecosystems? Land use legacies, management history, emerging pathogens, invasive species, ecological complexity, and inadequate inventory and monitoring contribute to the challenge of sustainable forest management. For the past 10 years, I have worked with a forest landowner to face these challenges. I have written a long-term land stewardship plan, and am now working on invasive species eradiation projects on the 2500 ha property.


August 2017 - 2021 Professor, Wright State University Biological Sciences
August 2011 - July 2017 Associate Professor, Wright State University Biological Sciences
August 2006 - July 2011 Assistant Professor, Wright State University ‐ Biological Sciences

Curriculum Vitae

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Contact Information

Biological Sciences Bldg 225D
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton, OH 45435-0001
(937) 775-4130


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