Terry L. Root, Ph.D.


Terry L. Root, Ph.D.
Terry Root
Senior Fellow
Woods Institute for the Environment
Stanford University
City, State, ZIP
Jerry Yang & Akiko Yamazaki Environmental & Energy Building, Room 377, Stanford, California 94305
[email protected]
Award year


Project Details

Terry Root utilized her fellowship to forecast the possible ecological consequences of global warming. Her research group focused on increasing the understanding of the basic physiological/ecological mechanisms that may be shaping the northern range boundaries of North American animals, particularly wintering birds.

Her allozyme and genetic studies of Northern Cardinals revealed that there were no recognizably distinct populations, thereby strongly suggesting that the geographic variation in physiology across their winter range is due to individual acclimatization. The reason that the northern boundaries of wintering ranges of various birds are not farther north is apparently due to the fact that enough fat cannot be stored by individuals in more northerly locations to sustain them throughout the cold night. This provided insight into the mechanism limiting species' northern range boundaries, which in turn allowed forecasting of range shifts with warming.

The similarity in individuals indicates that temperature, rather than day length, is the more important factor. Therefore, as the globe starts warming, these birds could potentially move northward. The locations of the northern boundaries of the winter ranges of birds shift annually. These results indicate that in warmer years individuals of at least some bird species winter farther north than they do in colder years.


Terry Root studies the ecology and physiology of wintering North American songbirds to learn how temperature affects the location of their ranges. The goal of her research is to increase understanding of how animals may respond to rapid climate change. For instance, species with ranges limited by temperature may be able to shift their ranges northward immediately, while species with ranges limited by vegetation will not be able to shift quickly. The latter will need to wait many decades for the vegetation to change. Such differential movement of species could cause a tearing apart "of species communities as we know them today."



Ph.D., Princeton University
1987: Biology, New Jersey, USA

Master of Arts, University of Colorado
1982: Biology, Colorado, USA

Bachelor of Science, University of New Mexico
1975: Mathematics and Statistics, New Mexico, USA


Wildlife Society
2002-Present: Global Climate Change and Wildlife Technical Review Committee

Wilson Ornithological Society
1999-Present: Van Tyne Library Committee Chair

Ecological Society of America, Board of Editors for Ecology and Ecological Monographs
1997-Present: Member

Cooper Ornithological Society
1995-Present: Conservation Resolutions Committee

American Ornithologists' Union
1995-Present: Elected Council Member

Center for Conservation Biology
1994-Present: Board of Directors

Center for Conservation Biology
1994-Present: Board of Directors and Member

Nature Conservancy, Michigan Chapter
1991-Present: Science Advisory Board Member

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Third Assessment Report
1998-2000: Lead Author for Wildlife

National Academy of Science, National Research Council
1997-1999: Committee to Evaluate Indicators for Monitoring Aquatic and Terrestrial Environments

International Ornithological Committee
1999: Elected Member

Ecological Society of America, Board of Editors for Ecological Applications
1992-1995: Member

American Ornithologists' Union
1995: Fellow

American Ornithologists' Union
1989-1995: Chair, Conservation Committee

Endangered Species Update
Faculty Advisor


National Conservation Achievement Award
2003: National Wildlife Federation

1999: Aldo Leopold Leadership Program

1995: American Ornithologists' Union

Marine Fellow
1992: Pew Fellows Program in Conservation and the Environment

Presidential Young Investigator Award
1990: National Science Foundation


American Ornithologists Union

American Society of Naturalists

Center for Conservation Biology

Cooper Ornithological Society

Ecological Society of America

Society for Conservation Biology

Wildlife Society

Wilson Ornithological Society


  • Root, T., J.T. Price, K.R. Hall, S.H. Schneider, C. Rosenzweig, and J.A. Pounds. 2003. Fingerprints of Global Warming on Plants and Animals. Nature 421:57-59
  • 2002. Wildlife Responses to Climate Change: North American Case Studies
  • Blaustein, A.R., L.K. Belden, D.H. Olson, D.M. Green, T.L. Root, J.M. Kiesecker. 2001. Amphibian breeding and climate change. Conservation Biology 15:1804-1809
  • Parmesan, C., T.L. Root and M.R. Willig. 2000. Impacts of extreme weather and climate on terrestrial biota. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 40:443-450
  • Sorenson, L.G., R. Goldberg, T.L. Root and M.G. Anderson. 1998. Potential effects of global warming on waterfowl populations breeding in the Northern Great Plains. Climactic Change 40:343-369
  • Schneider, S. H. and T. L. Root. 1996. Ecological implications of climate change will include surprises. Biodiversity and Conservation 5:1109-1119
  • Root, T. L. and J. D. Weckstein. 1995. Changes from 1901 to 1989 in the winter ranges of some birds. In: Our Living Resources: A Report to the Nation on the Distribution, Abundance and Health of U.S. Plants, Animals and Ecosystems (E.T. La Roe, G.S. Farris, C. Puckett, P.D. Doran and M. J. Mac eds.). NBS, USDOI, Washington, DC
  • Root, T. L. and L. McDaniel. 1995. State-by-state population trends of selected songbirds from 1960 to 1989. In: Our Living Resources: A Report to the Nation on the Distribution, Abundance and Health of U.S. Plants, Animals and Ecosystems (E.T. LaRoe, G.S. Farris, C. Puckett, P.D. Doran and M. J. Mac eds.). NBS, USDOI, Washington, DC
  • Root, T. L. and S. H. Schneider. 1995. Ecology and climate: Research strategies and implications. Science 269:334-341
  • Root, T. L. and J. D. Weckstein. 1994. Changes in distribution patterns of select wintering North American birds from 1901 to 1989. Studies in Avian Biology 15:191-201
  • Root, T. L. 1993. Effects of global climate change on North American birds and their communities. In: Biotic Interactions and Global Change (P.J. Kareiva, J. Kingsolver and R. Huey eds.). Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA, p. 280-292
  • Root, T. L. and S. H. Schneider. 1993. Can large-scale climatic models be linked with multi-scaled ecological studies? Conservation Biology 7:256-270

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