Terry L. Root primarily works on how wild animals and plants are changing with climate change, with a current focus on the possible mass extinction of species with warming. She actively works at making scientific information accessible to decision makers and the public. For example, she was a Lead Author for the Third (2001) and Fourth (2007) Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change and a Review Editor for the Fifth (2014) Assessment Report. In 2007 the IPCC was co-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Vice President Al Gore. In addition to other honors, Root was awarded the Spirit of Defenders Award for Science by the Defenders of Wildlife in 2010; in 1999 she was chosen as an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow; in 1992 as a Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment; and in 1990 as a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation. She served on the National Audubon Society Board of Directors from 2010 to 2016, and as Assistant Secretary from 2016 to present. Root is also Science Adviser to the American Wind and Wildlife Institute, Boreal Birds Foundation, Point Blue, to name a few.

Academic Appointments

Honors & Awards

  • Assistant Secretary, National Audubon Society (2016-2019)
  • Fellow, California Academy of Science (2010 to Present)
  • Spirit of Defenders Award for Science, Defenders of Wildlife (2010)
  • Review Editor, 5th Assessment Report, Working Group II, Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (2009-2014)
  • Lead Author, Nobel Peace Prize Co-Awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (2007)
  • Banksia International Award, Banksia Environmental Foundation. Co-Awardee with Stephen H. Schneider (2006)
  • Lead Author, 4th Assessment Report, Working Group II, Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (2003-2007)
  • Conservation Achievement Award, National Wildlife Federation. Co-Awardee with Stephen H. Schneider (2002)
  • Aldo Leopold Leadership Awardee, Ecological Society of America (1999)
  • Elected Member, International Ornithological Committee (1999)
  • Lead Author, 3rd Assessment Report, Working Group II, Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (1998-2001)
  • Outstanding Teaching Award, Students of the School of Natural Resources and Environment (1997/1998)
  • Fellow, American Ornithologists' Union (1995)
  • Elected Council Member, American Ornithologists' Union (1993)
  • Pew Scholar, Conservation and the Environment Program of the Pew Charitable Trust (1992)
  • Presidential Young Investigator Award, National Science Foundation (1990)
  • Elective Member, American Ornithologists' Union (1989)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Science Advisor, American Wind and Wildlife Institute (2014 - Present)
  • Undergraduate Advisory Panel Member, Stanford University (2012 - 2015)
  • Science Advisory Committee Member, Climate Communication (2011 - Present)
  • Science Advisory Committee Member, Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center (2011 - 2016)
  • Board Member, National Audubon Society (2010 - Present)
  • Science Advisory Board Member, National Audubon Society (2010 - Present)
  • Science Advisory Committee Member, Defenders of Wildlife (2010 - Present)
  • Board Member, Defenders of Wildlife (2010 - 2014)
  • Science Advisory Board Member, Alliance for Climate Education (2009 - Present)
  • Science Panel Member, International Boreal Conservation Campaign (2009 - Present)
  • Climate Change Scenarios Committee Member, National Research Council (2009 - 2010)
  • Advisory Board Member, Wind Research Initiative (2008 - 2015)
  • Science Advisory Board Member, Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring Network for Conservation International (2007 - 2013)
  • Jury Member, The Heinz Awards (2006 - 2007)
  • Board on Atmospheric Science and Climate Member, National Academy of Sciences (2004 - 2004)
  • Pierce's Disease in Vineyards of California Member, National Research Council (2003 - 2004)
  • Science Advisory Board Member, Point Blue (PRBO) Conservation Science (2002 - Present)
  • Executive Board Member, Point Blue (PRBO) Conservation Science (2002 - 2012)
  • Global Climate Change and Wildlife Technical Review Committee Member, The Wildlife Society (2002 - 2005)
  • Van Tyne Library Committee Chair, Wilson Ornithology Society (1999 - 2008)
  • Board of Editors Member, Ecology and Ecological Monographs (1997 - 1999)
  • Evaluate Indicators for Monitoring Aquatic and Terrestrial Environments Member, National Research Council (1997 - 1999)
  • Conservation Resolutions Committee Member, Cooper Ornithological Society (1995 - 2003)
  • Board of Directors Member, Center for Conservation Biology (1994 - 2005)
  • Elected Council Member, American Ornithologists' Union (1993 - 1996)
  • Board of Editors Member, Ecological Applications (1992 - 1995)
  • Science Advisory Board Member, The Nature Conservancy, Michigan Chapter (1991 - 2001)
  • Science and Faculty Advisor, Endangered Species UPDATE (1989 - 2001)
  • Conservation Committee Member and Chair, American Ornithologists' Union (1988 - 1995)
  • Membership Committee Member, American Ornithologists' Union (1988 - 1990)

Professional Education

  • PhD, Princeton University, Biology (1987)
  • MA, University of Colorado, Boulder, Biology (1982)
  • BS, University of New Mexico, Mathematics and Statistics (1975)

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

Impacts of climate change on wild plants and animals including extinction

All Publications

  • An assessment of the efficiency of protection status through determinations of biodiversity hotspots based on endemic bird species, Taiwan JOURNAL FOR NATURE CONSERVATION Ko, C., Murphy, S. C., Root, T. L., Lee, P. 2014; 22 (6): 570-576
  • Thinking globally and siting locally - renewable energy and biodiversity in a rapidly warming world CLIMATIC CHANGE Allison, T. D., Root, T. L., Frumhoff, P. C. 2014; 126 (1-2): 1-6
  • Warrior for Climate Science and Awareness: Stephen Schneider SIMULATION & GAMING Chadwick, S., Armel, C., Root, T., Crookall, D. 2013; 44 (2-3): 189–94
  • Managed Relocation: Integrating the Scientific, Regulatory, and Ethical Challenges BIOSCIENCE Schwartz, M. W., Hellmann, J. J., McLachlan, J. M., Sax, D. F., Borevitz, J. O., Brennan, J., Camacho, A. E., Ceballos, G., Clark, J. R., Doremus, H., Early, R., Etterson, J. R., Fielder, D., Gill, J. L., Gonzalez, P., Green, N., Hannah, L., Jamieson, D. W., Javeline, D., Minteer, B. A., Odenbaugh, J., Polasky, S., Richardson, D. M., Root, T. L., Safford, H. D., Sala, O., Schneider, S. H., Thompson, A. R., Williams, J. W., Vellend, M., Vitt, P., Zellmer, S. 2012; 62 (8): 732-743
  • Global Change Projections for Taiwan Island Birds: Linking Current and Future Distributions NATURE CONSERVATION-BULGARIA Ko, C., Root, T. L., Lin, S., Schneider, S. H., Lee, P. 2012: 21-40
  • CORRESPONDENCE: Difficult but not impossible NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE Hoegh-Guldberg, O., Hegerl, G., Root, T., Zwiers, F., Stott, P., Pierce, D., Allen, M. 2011; 1 (2): 72
  • Movement distances enhance validity of predictive models ECOLOGICAL MODELLING Ko, C., Root, T. L., Lee, P. 2011; 222 (4): 947-954
  • Bridging the gap: linking climate-impacts research with adaptation planning and management CLIMATIC CHANGE Mastrandrea, M. D., Heller, N. E., Root, T. L., Schneider, S. H. 2010; 100 (1): 87-101
  • Sound the stressor: how Hoatzins (Opisthocomus hoazin) react to ecotourist conversation BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION Karp, D. S., Root, T. L. 2009; 18 (14): 3733-3742
  • Multidimensional evaluation of managed relocation PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Richardson, D. M., Hellmann, J. J., McLachlan, J. S., Sax, D. F., Schwartz, M. W., Gonzalez, P., Brennan, E. J., Camacho, A., Root, T. L., Sala, O. E., Schneider, S. H., Ashe, D. M., Clark, J. R., Early, R., Etterson, J. R., Fielder, E. D., Gill, J. L., Minteer, B. A., Polasky, S., Safford, H. D., Thompson, A. R., Vellend, M. 2009; 106 (24): 9721-9724


    Managed relocation (MR) has rapidly emerged as a potential intervention strategy in the toolbox of biodiversity management under climate change. Previous authors have suggested that MR (also referred to as assisted colonization, assisted migration, or assisted translocation) could be a last-alternative option after interrogating a linear decision tree. We argue that numerous interacting and value-laden considerations demand a more inclusive strategy for evaluating MR. The pace of modern climate change demands decision making with imperfect information, and tools that elucidate this uncertainty and integrate scientific information and social values are urgently needed. We present a heuristic tool that incorporates both ecological and social criteria in a multidimensional decision-making framework. For visualization purposes, we collapse these criteria into 4 classes that can be depicted in graphical 2-D space. This framework offers a pragmatic approach for summarizing key dimensions of MR: capturing uncertainty in the evaluation criteria, creating transparency in the evaluation process, and recognizing the inherent tradeoffs that different stakeholders bring to evaluation of MR and its alternatives.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0902327106

    View details for Web of Science ID 000267045500033

    View details for PubMedID 19509337

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2694035

  • Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change NATURE Rosenzweig, C., Karoly, D., Vicarelli, M., Neofotis, P., Wu, Q., Casassa, G., Menzel, A., Root, T. L., Estrella, N., Seguin, B., Tryjanowski, P., Liu, C., Rawlins, S., Imeson, A. 2008; 453 (7193): 353-U20


    Significant changes in physical and biological systems are occurring on all continents and in most oceans, with a concentration of available data in Europe and North America. Most of these changes are in the direction expected with warming temperature. Here we show that these changes in natural systems since at least 1970 are occurring in regions of observed temperature increases, and that these temperature increases at continental scales cannot be explained by natural climate variations alone. Given the conclusions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-twentieth century is very likely to be due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations, and furthermore that it is likely that there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent except Antarctica, we conclude that anthropogenic climate change is having a significant impact on physical and biological systems globally and in some continents.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature06937

    View details for Web of Science ID 000255868400043

    View details for PubMedID 18480817

  • Natural range expansion of Barred Owls? A critique of Monahan and Hijmans (2007) AUK Livezey, K. B., Root, T. L., Gremel, S. A., Johnson, C. 2008; 125 (1): 230–32
  • Changes in spring arrival of Nearctic-Neotropical migrants attributed to multiscalar climate GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY MacMynowski, D. P., Root, T. L., Ballard, G., Geupel, G. R. 2007; 13 (11): 2239-2251
  • Climate and the complexity of migratory phenology: sexes, migratory distance, and arrival distributions INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BIOMETEOROLOGY MacMynowski, D. P., Root, T. L. 2007; 51 (5): 361-373


    The intra- and inter-season complexity of bird migration has received limited attention in climatic change research. Our phenological analysis of 22 species collected in Chicago, USA, (1979-2002) evaluates the relationship between multi-scalar climate variables and differences (1) in arrival timing between sexes, (2) in arrival distributions among species, and (3) between spring and fall migration. The early migratory period for earliest arriving species (i.e., short-distance migrants) and earliest arriving individuals of a species (i.e., males) most frequently correlate with climate variables. Compared to long-distance migrant species, four times as many short-distance migrants correlate with spring temperature, while 8 of 11 (73%) of long-distance migrant species' arrival is correlated with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). While migratory phenology has been correlated with NAO in Europe, we believe that this is the first documentation of a significant association in North America. Geographically proximate conditions apparently influence migratory timing for short-distance migrants while continental-scale climate (e.g., NAO) seemingly influences the phenology of Neotropical migrants. The preponderance of climate correlations is with the early migratory period, not the median of arrival, suggesting that early spring conditions constrain the onset or rate of migration for some species. The seasonal arrival distribution provides considerable information about migratory passage beyond what is apparent from statistical analyses of phenology. A relationship between climate and fall phenology is not detected at this location. Analysis of the within-season complexity of migration, including multiple metrics of arrival, is essential to detect species' responses to changing climate as well as evaluate the underlying biological mechanisms.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00484-006-0084-1

    View details for Web of Science ID 000246098300002

    View details for PubMedID 17245563

  • Conservation and climate change: The challenges ahead CONSERVATION BIOLOGY Root, T. L., Schneider, S. H. 2006; 20 (3): 706-708
  • Human-modified temperatures induce species changes: Joint attribution PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Root, T. L., MacMynowski, D. P., Mastrandrea, M. D., Schneider, S. H. 2005; 102 (21): 7465-7469


    Average global surface-air temperature is increasing. Contention exists over relative contributions by natural and anthropogenic forcings. Ecological studies attribute plant and animal changes to observed warming. Until now, temperature-species connections have not been statistically attributed directly to anthropogenic climatic change. Using modeled climatic variables and observed species data, which are independent of thermometer records and paleoclimatic proxies, we demonstrate statistically significant "joint attribution," a two-step linkage: human activities contribute significantly to temperature changes and human-changed temperatures are associated with discernible changes in plant and animal traits. Additionally, our analyses provide independent testing of grid-box-scale temperature projections from a general circulation model (HadCM3).

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0502286102

    View details for Web of Science ID 000229417500014

    View details for PubMedID 15899975

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC1129055

  • Amphibian breeding and climate change: Reply to Corn CONSERVATION BIOLOGY Blaustein, A. R., Root, T. L., Kiesecker, J. M., Belden, L. K., Olson, D. H., Green, D. M. 2003; 17 (2): 626-627
  • Fingerprints of global warming on wild animals and plants NATURE Root, T. L., Price, J. T., Hall, K. R., Schneider, S. H., Rosenzweig, C., Pounds, J. A. 2003; 421 (6918): 57-60


    Over the past 100 years, the global average temperature has increased by approximately 0.6 degrees C and is projected to continue to rise at a rapid rate. Although species have responded to climatic changes throughout their evolutionary history, a primary concern for wild species and their ecosystems is this rapid rate of change. We gathered information on species and global warming from 143 studies for our meta-analyses. These analyses reveal a consistent temperature-related shift, or 'fingerprint', in species ranging from molluscs to mammals and from grasses to trees. Indeed, more than 80% of the species that show changes are shifting in the direction expected on the basis of known physiological constraints of species. Consequently, the balance of evidence from these studies strongly suggests that a significant impact of global warming is already discernible in animal and plant populations. The synergism of rapid temperature rise and other stresses, in particular habitat destruction, could easily disrupt the connectedness among species and lead to a reformulation of species communities, reflecting differential changes in species, and to numerous extirpations and possibly extinctions.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature01333

    View details for Web of Science ID 000180165500035

    View details for PubMedID 12511952

  • Amphibian phenology and climate change CONSERVATION BIOLOGY Blaustein, A. R., Root, T. L., Kiesecker, J. M., Belden, L. K., Olson, D. H., Green, D. M. 2002; 16 (6): 1454-1455
  • Ecological implications of climate change will include surprises BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION Schneider, S. H., Root, T. L. 1996; 5 (9): 1109–19

    View details for DOI 10.1007/BF00052720

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996VH80800008



    Natural and anthropogenic global changes are associated with substantial ecological disturbances. Multiscale interconnections among disciplines studying the biotic and abiotic effects of such disturbances are needed. Three research paradigms traditionally have been used and are reviewed here: scale-up, scale-down, and scale-up with embedded scale-down components. None of these approaches by themselves can provide the most reliable ecological assessments. A fourth research paradigm, called strategic cyclical scaling (SCS), is relatively more effective. SCS involves continuous cycling between large- and small-scale studies, thereby offering improved understanding of the behavior of complex environmental systems and allowing more reliable forecast capabilities for analyzing the ecological consequences of global changes.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.269.5222.334

    View details for Web of Science ID A1995RK42700030

    View details for PubMedID 17841250