Thomas P. Rooney

Biological Sciences
Biological Sciences Bldg 225D, 3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy., Dayton, OH 45435-0001

Biographical sketch: Professor Rooney is an ecologist, conservation biologist, and advocate for good stewardship of wild places and the wild things that live there. His scientific reputation is built on the management problems and challenges posed by white-tailed deer. His research examines the role of deer, deer hunting, and apex predators in forest ecosystems. Because of his expertise and national reputation, he has been interviewed for articles in the New York Times (and again), Discover Magazine, Washington Monthly, Nautilus Magazine, Science Magazine (and again) other publications. He appeared on the Rewilding Earth podcast. You can also find his research highlighted in the following books:

DEERLAND: America’s hunt for ecological balance and the essence of wilderness by Al Cambrone (2013: Lyons Press)

Where the wild things were: life, death, and ecological wreckage in a land of vanishing predators by Will Stolzenburg (2008: Bloomsbury Press)

A species of arachnid, Eucynorta rooneyi, is named after him. He contributed to the discovery of Tiputinia foetida, a Neotropical mycotrophic plant.

Dr. Rooney is committed to advancing diversity and creating an environment of inclusiveness. He respects and values diversity in gender identity, gender expression, sex, race, ethnicity, disability status, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, age, Veteran status, economic background, and other important social identities, and expects students joining his research group to contribute to an inclusive and supporting research environment. His goal is to maintain a research and learning environment where everyone can succeed on their own terms, especially those people who are members of groups that have that have been and continue to be marginalized in science.


Education History: 

BA University of Delaware

MS Indiana University of Pennsylvania

PhD University of Wisconsin-Madison




BIO 2310 Evolution & Ecology

BIO 3850 Tropical Ecology


BIO 1150 Organisms and Ecosystems

BIO 4010/6010 and ENG 4460/6460 Eco-Narratives

BIO 4450/6450 Amazon Expedition (field course)

BIO 4470/6470 Population & Community Ecology

BIO 4840/6470 Biogeography

BIO 4720/6720 Ornithology

BIO 4920 Senior Seminar

BIO 8000 Graduate Seminar

Research statement: 

Students working with Professor Rooney adress both basic and applied problems in population ecology, community ecology, and conservation biology. Research in his lab addresses these 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 the distribution and abundance of herbivore and carnivore guilds. Because white-tailed deer occupy a broad range of habitats and can reproduce rapidly, their populations have increased sharply in recent decades. High deer densities create management conflicts in many parks and natural areas, as large numbers of deer often have severe and irreversible impacts. The lab group investigates the web of interactions that connect deer to other organisms through changes in resource availability and quality. Professor Rooney is founding member of the Forest Ungulate Research Network--an international group of scientists seeking sustainable management solutions to challenges posed by wild ungulates in forest ecosystems.
  2. How do we sustainably manage and 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 and resilient management of forest landscapes and wildlife. Since 1999, the lab group has collaborated with a forest landowner in Wisconsin to address these very challenges. Professor Rooney created a long-term land stewardship plan, and students use this 2500 ha property as a living laboratory for discovery, hypothesis testing, and long-term research in sustainability.

Professor Rooney also congtributes to capacity-building for conservation. Most of the world’s conservation biologists live in developed nations, while most of the need for conservation expertise is in developing nations.  He collaborates with an exceptional group of scientists in Pakistan to assess, manage, and protect wildlife and wild places.

Gray wolf on patrol
Trophic cascades involving wolves, deer, and forest vegetation
Local browse impact as a function of ungulate density and habitat heterogeneity




Students Advised: 

Janjua, Safia. 2020. Genetic analysis of snow leopard population using next generation sequencing for its improved conservation and management. Ph.D. Dissertation.

Engle, Elizabeth. 2020. Composition of dung beetle communities in a tropical montane forest alter the rate of dung removal more than species diversity alone. M.S. Thesis.

Rich, Mackenzie. 2020. Wolf occurrence is an important component of interspecific interactions within a Great Lakes carnivore community. M.S. Thesis.

Loreaux, Hosanna. 2019. Nutrient flux from aquatic to terrestrial invertebrate communities across a lakeside ecotone. M.S. Thesis.

Wright, Chelsea. 2018. Anthropogenic noise alters avian community composition in temperate forests. M.S. Thesis.

Watters, Kayla. 2018. Community structure and epizoonotic infection prevalence of northern Wisconsin anurans. M.S. Thesis.

Salminen, Mandy. 2017. Breeding bird and bat activity surveys at Dairymen’s. M.S. Thesis.

Westwood, Mary. 2017. Infection prevalence in a novel Ixodes scapularis population in northern Wisconsin. M.S. Thesis.

Woebbe, Eric. 2017. Survey of a Neotropical anuran assemblage (Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, Peru). M.S. Thesis.

Becker, Jon. 2017. The impacts of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) herbivory on the forage quality of forest vegetation. M.S. Thesis. M.S. Thesis.

Sullivan, Amy. 2015. Logging debris protects sugar maple (Acer saccharum) seedlings from white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) herbivory in wolf-occupied forest. M.S. Thesis.

Sancomb (Roberson), Libby. 2014. Direct and indirect effects of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) herbivory on beetle and Spider assemblages in northern Wisconsin. M.S. Thesis.

Damron, Brittany. 2013. Opiliones biodiversity in Cusuco National Park, Hondruas. M.S. Thesis.

Begley(-Miller), Danielle. 2013. Long-term effects of deer browsing on northern Wisconsin forest plant communities. M.S. Thesis.

Zelles, Alex. 2012. Positive feedback does not occur between garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) and European earthworms. M.S. Thesis.

Schooley, Chris. 2011. Analysis of post-wildfire precipitative run-off Impacts on downstream catchment water quality as a model for Cochiti Lake, NM, following the 2011 Las Conchas fire. M.S. Critical Review Paper.

Hays, Jennifer. 2011. Changes in avian community composition at Sugarcreek Metropark between 1978 and 2010. M.S. Thesis.

Rawal, Hetal. 2010. How timing of white-tailed deer herbivory influences plant growth and reproduction. M.S. Critical Review Paper.

Shafer, Bambi. 2010. An assessment of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) dynamics, management, and impacts in highly fragmented landscapes. M.S. Thesis.

Murray, Bryan. 2009. Risk-sensitive foraging facilitates species-level trophic cascades among terrestrial mammals: a meta-analysis. M.S. Thesis.

Bouchard, Krystle. 2009. Finding the trophic trickle: using herbaceous indicator species to investigate plant recovery from intense browsing by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) after the re-colonization of a top predator (Canis lupus). M.S. Thesis.




Waller, DM and TP ROONEY, eds. 2008. The Vanishing Present: Wisconsin’s changing lands, waters, and wildlife. University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London. 507 p.

Synthesis and Review Papers

ROONEY TP, R Buttenschøn, P Madsen, CR Olesen, AA Royo, and SL Stout. 2015. Integrating ungulate herbivory into forest landscape restoration. Pages 69 – 85 in JA Stanturf, ed. Restoration of Boreal and Temperate Forests, 2nd ed. CRC Press.

Côté, SD, TP ROONEY, JP Tremblay, C Dussault, and DM Waller. 2004. Ecological impacts of deer overabundance. Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics 35: 113-147. An ISI highly cited paper.

ROONEY TP and DM Waller. 2003. Direct and indirect effects of deer in forest ecosystems. Forest Ecology and Management 181: 165-176.

ROONEY, TP 2001. Impacts of white-tailed deer on forest ecosystems: a North American perspective. Forestry 74: 201-208.

Articles and Book Chapters

Westwood, ML, JL Peters, TP ROONEY. 2020. Prevalence and Co-Infection of Three Tick-Borne Pathogens in Questing Adult Blacklegged Ticks Ixodes scapularis (Vilas County, Wisconsin). Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases 20: 633-635.

Janjua, S, JL Peters, B Weckworth, FI Abbas, V Bahn, O Johansson, TP ROONEY. 2020. Improving our conservation genetic toolkit: ddRADseq for SNPs in snow leopards. Conservation Genetics Resources 12: 257-261.

Sass, GG, SL Shaw, TP ROONEY, AL Rypel, JK Rabbe, Q Smith, TR Hrabik, S Toshner. 2019. Coarse woody habitat and glacial lake fisheries in the Midwestern United States: knowns, unknowns, and an experiment to advance our knowledge. Lake and Reservoir Management 35: 382-395.

Gomper, M, B Patterson, R Peterson, D Pletscher, T ROONEY, T Van Deelen, J Vucetich, R Wayne, A Wydeven. 2018. Summary of subject matter experts technical input regarding options for bringing wolves to Isle Royale National Park. Pp. A1-A20 in Isle Royale National Park Environmental Impact Statement to Address the Presence of Wolves. US National Park Service. 234 p.

Milks, JR, J Hibbard, TP ROONEY. 2017. Exfoliating bark does not protect Platanus occidentalis from root-climbing lianas. Northeastern Naturalist 24: 520-525.

Roberson, EJ, MJ Chips, WP Carson, TP ROONEY. 2016. Deer herbivory reduces web-building spider abundance by simplifying forest vegetation structure. PeerJ 4:e2538.

Fakhar-i-Abbas, A Mian, T Akhtar, TP ROONEY. 2015. Status and future management of grey goral (Naemorhedus goral bedfordi) in Pakistan. Journal of Bioresource Management 2(4): 7-19.

Fakhar-i-Abbas, TP ROONEY, A Mian, ZI Bhatti, J Haider. 2015. The distribution, population status, and wildlife product trade of Himalayan musk deer in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. Journal of Bioresource Management 2(3): 38-47.

Beschta, RL, C Eisenberg, JW Laundré, WJ Ripple, and TP ROONEY. 2014. Predation risk, elk, and aspen: comment. Ecology 95: 2669-2671.

Begley-Miller, DR, A Hipp, B Brown, M Hahn, and TP ROONEY. 2014.  White-tailed deer are a biotic filter during community assembly, reducing species and phylogenetic diversity. AoB Plants (2014): plu030 doi: 10.1093/aobpla/plu030

Bouchard, K, JE Wiedenhoeft, AP Wydeven and TP ROONEY. 2013. Wolves facilitate the recovery of browse-sensitive understory herbs in Wisconsin forests. Boreal Environment Research 18 (Supp. A): 43-49.

Fakhar-i-Abbas, TP ROONEY, J. Haider, and A Mian. 2013. Food limitation as a potentially emerging contributor to the Asian vulture crisis. Journal of Animal and Plant Sciences 23: 1758-1760.

Callan, R, NP Nibbelink, TP ROONEY, JE Weidenhoeft, and AP Wydeven. 2013. Recolonizing wolves trigger a trophic cascade in Wisconsin. Journal of Ecology 101: 837-845. A Faculty of 1000 Prime Recommendation and an Editor's Choice paper.

Fakhar-i-Abbas, TP ROONEY, and A Mian.  2013. Gray wolf (Canis lupus L.) in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan: distribution, abundance, and persecution. Canid Biology & Conservation 16: 18-24.

Fakhar-i-Abbas, KE Ruckstuhl, A Mian, T Akhtar, and TP ROONEY. 2012. Distribution, population size and structure of Himalayan grey goral Naemorhedus goral bedfordi (Cetartiodactyla: Bovidae) in Pakistan. Mammalia 76: 143-147.

ROONEY TP and DA Rogers. 2011. Colonization and effects of Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), European Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), and Bell’s Honeysuckle (Lonicera × bella) on understory plants after five decades in southern Wisconsin forests. Invasive Plant Science and Management 4: 317-325.

ROONEY, TP, JL Peters, and JL Hays. 2010. Changes in the Sugarcreek Metropark bird community between 1978 and 2010. The Ohio Cardinal 34: 30-37.

ROONEY TP and MK Leach. 2010. Replacing hay-mowing with prescribed fire restores species diversity and conservation value in a tallgrass prairie sampled thrice: a 59-year study. American Midland Naturalist 164: 311-321.

Ripple, WJ, TP ROONEY, and RL Beschta. 2010. Large predators, deer, and trophic cascades in the mid-latitudes. Pages 141-161 in J Terborgh and JA Estes, eds. Trophic Cascades: Predators, Prey, and the Changing Dynamics of Nature. Island Press, Washington DC.

Rogers, DA, TP ROONEY, TJ Hawbaker, VC Radeloff, and DM Waller. 2009. Paying the extinction debt in southern Wisconsin forest understories. Conservation Biology 23: 1497-1506.

ROONEY, TP and DA Anderson. 2009. Are wolf-mediated trophic cascades boosting biodiversity in the Great Lakes region? Pages 205-215 in AP Wydeven, TR Van Deelen, and E Heske, eds. Recovery of Gray Wolves in the Great Lakes Region of the United States: an Endangered Species Success Story. Springer, New York.

ROONEY, TP. 2009. High white-tailed deer densities benefit graminoids and contribute to biotic homogenization of forest ground-layer vegetation. Plant Ecology 202: 103-111.

ROONEY, TP. 2008. Comparison of co-occurrence structure in temperate forest herb-layer communities in 1949 and 2000. Acta Oecologica 34: 354-360.

Rogers, DA, TP ROONEY, D Olson, and DM Waller. 2008. Fifty years of change in southern Wisconsin forests: Shifts in canopy and understory richness, composition and heterogeneity. Ecology 89: 2482-2492.

Waller, DM and TP ROONEY. 2008. Assembling the puzzle. Pages 1-12 in The Vanishing Present: Wisconsin's Changing Lands, Waters and Wildlife.

Rogers, DA, TP ROONEY, and R Henderson. 2008. Changes in southern upland forests. Pages 91-102 in The Vanishing Present: Wisconsin's Changing Lands, Waters and Wildlife.

ROONEY, TP and DM Waller. 2008. Plant species diversity in the once and future Northwoods. Pages 75-90 in The Vanishing Present: Wisconsin's Changing Lands, Waters and Wildlife.

ROONEY, TP and DJ Mladenoff. 2008. The future of forest conservation. Pages 458-459 in The Vanishing Present: Wisconsin's Changing Lands, Waters and Wildlife.

ROONEY, TP, JD Olden, MK Leach, DA Rogers. 2007. Biotic homogenization and conservation prioritization. Biological Conservation 134: 447-450.

ROONEY, TP. 2006. Deer density reduction without a 12-gauge shotgun (Wisconsin). Ecological Restoration 24: 205-206

ROONEY, TP, and KC Millam. 2006. Population demography and herbivory of Trillium grandiflorum: implications for Trillium conservation. Pages 591-595 in Columbus, JT, EA Friar, JM Porter, LM Prince, and MG Simpson, eds. Monocots:  Comparative Biology and Evolution (Excluding Poales).  Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont, CA.

Olden, JD and TP ROONEY. 2006. On defining and quantifying of biotic homogenization. Global Ecology and Biogeography 15: 113-120.

ROONEY, TP. 2005. Distribution of ecologically-invasive plants along off-road vehicle trails in the Chequamegon National Forest, Wisconsin. Michigan Botanist 44: 169-173.

ROONEY, TP, DA Rogers, SM Wiegmann, and DM Waller. 2004. Monitoring non-native plant invasions over 50 years in Wisconsin forests. Weed Technology 18: 1266-1268.

ROONEY, TP, SM Wiegmann, DA Rogers, and DM Waller. 2004. Biotic impoverishment and homogenization in unfragmented forest understory communities. Conservation Biology 18: 787-798.

Waller, DM and TP ROONEY. 2004. Nature is changing in more ways than one. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 19: 6-7.

LaRosa, RJ, DA Rogers, TP ROONEY, and DM Waller. 2004. Does steeplebush (Spiraea tomentosa) facilitate pollination of Virginia meadow beauty (Rhexia virginica)? Michigan Botanist 43: 57-63.

Steven, JC, TP ROONEY, OD Boyle, and DM Waller. 2003. Density-dependent pollinator visitation and self incompatibility in upper Great Lakes populations of Trillium grandiflorum. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 130: 23-29.

ROONEY, TP and K Gross. 2003. A demographic study of deer browsing impacts on Trillium grandiflorum. Plant Ecology 168: 267-277.

ROONEY, TP, SL Solheim, and DM Waller. 2002. Factors influencing the regeneration of northern white cedar in lowland forests of the Upper Great Lakes region, USA. Forest Ecology and Management 163: 119-130.

ROONEY, TP and DA Rogers. 2002. The modified Floristic Quality Index. Natural Areas Journal 22: 340-344.

Barry, GR, TP ROONEY, SJ Ventura, and DM Waller. 2001. Evaluation of biodiversity value based on wildness: a study of the western Northwoods, Upper Great Lakes, USA. Natural Areas Journal 21: 229-242.

ROONEY, TP and DM Waller. 2001. How experimental defoliation and leaf height affect growth and reproduction in Trillium grandiflorum. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 128: 393-399.

ROONEY, TP, RJ McCormick, SL Solheim and DM Waller. 2000. Regional variation in recruitment of hemlock seedlings and saplings in the upper Great Lakes, USA. Ecological Applications 10: 1119-1132.

ROONEY, TP, C Antolik and MD Moran. 2000. The impact of salamander predation on Collembola abundance. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 102: 308-312.

Borgmann, K, DM Waller, and TP ROONEY. 1999. Does balsam fir (Abies balsamea) facilitate the recruitment of eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)? American Midland Naturalist 141: 391-397.

ROONEY, TP and DM Waller. 1998. Local and regional variation in hemlock seedling establishment in the forests of the upper Great Lakes region, USA. Forest Ecology and Management 111: 211-224.

ROONEY, TP and WJ Dress. 1997. Patterns of plant diversity in overbrowsed primary and mature secondary hemlock-northern hardwood forest stands. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 124: 43-51.

ROONEY, TP and WJ Dress. 1997. Species loss over sixty-six years in the ground layer vegetation of Heart's Content, an old-growth forest in Pennsylvania USA. Natural Areas Journal 17: 297-305.

ROONEY, TP 1997. Escaping herbivory: refuge effects on the morphology and shootdemography of the clonal forest herb Maianthemum canadense. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 124: 280-285.

Moran, MD, TP ROONEY, and LE Hurd. 1996. Top-down cascade from a bitrophic predator in an old-field community. Ecology 77: 2219-2227.

ROONEY, TP, A Tetlow-Smith, and LE Hurd. 1996. Global warming and the regional persistence of a temperate-zone insect (Tenodera sinensis). American Midland Naturalist 136: 84-93.

ROONEY, TP 1995. Restoring landscape diversity and old growth to Pennsylvania's northern hardwood forests. Natural Areas Journal 15: 274-278.

Hurd, LE, RM Eisenberg, MD Moran, TP ROONEY, WJ Gangloff, and VM Case. 1995. Time, temperature, and food as determinants of population persistence in the temperate mantid Tenodera sinensis (Mantodea: Mantidae). Environmental Entomology 24: 348-353.

ROONEY, TP 1994.  Modelling climate-induced extinction in the temperate zone. Environmental Conservation 21: 257-259.


Best poster, Teaching for Student Success—Wright State University Reducing the Achievement Gap Symposium (2015)

Southwest Ohio Council for Higher Education Award for Excellence in Teaching (2011)

Wright State University President's Award for Faculty Excellence: Early Career Achievement (2010)

Wright State University College of Science and Mathematics Award: Teaching Excellence (2009)

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