The Rooney Lab
Wright State University

Department of Biological Sciences




Influence of white-tailed deer on patterns of biodiversity:
deer_browsing deer exclosure photo

Growing deer populations throughout eastern North America are having numerous social
and ecological impacts. I am broadly interested in understanding the pathways and
mechanisms by which deer affect biodiversity, and have a long-term deer exclosure study
running at the Dairymenís Inc. property in northern Wisconsin.

I am also interested in approaches that successfully integrate ungulate and forest
management, and I coordinate the activities of international teams on this topic:
IUFRO Working Group on Silviculture and Ungulates
Forest Ungulate Research Network

Deer herbivory research projects I am interested in pursuing include:

  • the role of herbivore compensatory responses in shifting the outcome of
    interspecific competition
  • land use history, deer, and their effects on plant species composition and
    community structure
  • trophic cascades following the reintroduction of top predators
  • trajectories of plant communities (and/or relaxation of chemical defense) following
    release from browsing pressure.

Natural history, ecology, conservation, and management
of Midwestern biodiversity
deciduous forest understory prairie landscape photo

There is still much to learn about the ecology of species and habitats throughout the
Midwest. The success of conservation and restoration efforts ultimately depends on the
extent to which we understand the natural community of which we are a part. My research
is conducted in the southwestern Ohio region or at the Dairymen's Inc. property in northern
Wisconsin. A few of these research topics include:

  • Assessing long-term changes in biodiversity through resurvey work.
  • The ecology, impacts and management of invasive plants.
  • Avian and floristic surveys of natural areas
  • Design and deployment of biodiversity sensor networks

Tropical Conservation Biology

biotic homogenization illustration detail ohio air photo landscape fragmentation
Interested in conducting ecological research in the tropics? Wright State has partnered
with Operation Wallacea, a network of European and North American academics that
conduct biodiversity and conservation biology research.

Operation Wallacea operates research centers in Indonesia, Madagascar, Honduras, Peru,
Mexico, and elsewhere. Research efforts are designed to produce data for a four-stage
conservation process, including assessing the biodiversity value of a site, monitoring
long-term changes in key taxa, assessing the socio-economic value of the protected areas,
and using data from the first three stages to establish evidence-based, "best practice"
conservation management projects.

My students "plug in" to existing research programs, and are co-advised by an Operation
Wallacea scientist. They still develop their own research questions and conduct independent
research, but with in-country logistic support and scientific expertise.

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