Robert A. Miller

Robert A. Miller
Boise State University | BSU · Intermountain Bird Observatory

MS Raptor Biology, BS Biology/Ecology, BS Mathematics/Computer Science, Graduate Certificate GIS

About

24
Publications
3,990
Reads
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95
Citations
Introduction
I work for the Intermountain Bird Observatory at Boise State University. I specialize in ecology, climate change and migration. I manage projects working with the Northern Goshawk, Short-eared Owl, Northern Hawk-owl, Belted Kingfisher, Mountain Quail, and all ten species of woodpecker that regularly occupy Idaho. Additionally, I manage most of the data for IBO and provide analysis and GIS support for other projects. I mentor students on undergraduate and sometimes graduate projects.
Additional affiliations
June 2009 - present
Boise State University
Position
  • Research Biologist

Publications

Publications (24)
Article
Migration is a significant event in the annual cycle of many avian species. During migration birds face many challenges, including unfamiliar foraging and refuge habitats, resulting in a much higher rate of mortality during migration than during other seasons of the year. Weather may significantly affect a bird’s decision to initiate migration, the...
Article
Full-text available
A critical element of diet analysis is species adaptability to alternative prey sources. The breed-ing-season diet of Northern Goshawks (Accipiter gentilis) includes both mammalian and avian species, varies geographically, and is often dependent upon tree squirrels of the genera Sciurus and Tamiasciurus. We studied alternative prey sources of North...
Article
Full-text available
We developed a habitat suitability model for predicting nest locations of breeding Northern Goshawks (Accipiter gentilis) in the high-eleva-tion mixed forest and shrub-steppe habitat of south-central Idaho, USA. We used elevation, slope, aspect, ruggedness, distance-to-water, canopy cover, and individual bands of Landsat imagery as predictors for k...
Article
Full-text available
The Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) is currently listed as a sensitive species by the U.S.D.A. Forest Service. Previous research in our study area, the South Hills of the Minidoka Ranger District of the Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho, identified possible signs of parasite infections among the banded adult and nestling goshawks, which could i...
Article
Full-text available
The Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) is a species of conservation concern in the western USA, with evidence for declining population sizes. Monitoring of Short-eared Owls is complicated because of their low site fidelity and nomadic movements. We recruited community-science participants to implement a multi-year survey of Short-eared Owls across eig...
Article
Full-text available
Weather is thought to influence raptor reproduction through effects on prey availability, condition of adults, and survival of nests and young; however, there are few long-term studies of the effects of weather on raptor reproduction. We investigated the effects of weather on Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis; henceforth goshawk) breeding rate,...
Article
Telomere length dynamics are an established biomarker of health and aging in animals. The study of telomeres in numerous species has been facilitated by methods to measure telomere length by real‐time quantitative PCR (qPCR). In this method, telomere length is determined by quantifying the amount of telomeric DNA repeats in a sample and normalizing...
Preprint
Full-text available
The role of telomere dynamics in health and aging has been facilitated by the development of qPCR-based telomere length measurements. However, the widespread application of this approach has been limited because of the challenge of developing appropriate reference primers in non-model organisms with genomes that have not been sequenced. Here we dev...
Article
Full-text available
Raptors wintering in Nevada comprise both local breeders and migrants from long distances, making winter surveys valuable for evaluating trends within multiple regional populations. We evaluated data on Nevada's wintering rap-tors recorded over six years from two programs-the statewide road-based surveys coordinated by the Nevada Department of Wild...
Article
Full-text available
Sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) steppe is one of north America's most imperiled ecosystems, as the result of many factors including grazing, development, fire, and invasion of exotic plants. threats to sagebrush steppe are expected to increase because of climate change and further human development. Many songbirds use sagebrush steppe opportunistically,...
Article
Full-text available
Sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) steppe is one of North America's most imperiled ecosystems, as the result of many factors including grazing, development, fire, and invasion of exotic plants. Threats to sagebrush steppe are expected to increase because of climate change and further human development. Many songbirds use sagebrush steppe opportunistically,...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Population regulation within an area is driven by many intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Understanding the effects and relative importance of these factors is essential to either prioritize management actions or to use population metrics of a given species as an indicator of ecosystem health. As populations become smaller or rarer on the landscape,...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The USDA Forest Service identifies management indicator species (MIS) as indicators of forest health. These species are often chosen to represent specific habitat types within the forest and, to be most effective as indicators, tend to be sensitive to changes within the forest. In 2016, we surveyed for three management indicator species – Northern...
Conference Paper
I gazed in wonder as I watched a pre-historic creature the size of a small car emerge from the surf, to do what her kind has done for more than 150 million years. I was working as a citizen scientist to help save this endangered species - the Leatherback Sea Turtle. On that dark moonless night, the assault of sandflies was relentless, sharp sand mi...
Article
Full-text available
The Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) is an open-country species breeding in the northern United States and Canada, and has likely experienced a long-term, range-wide, and substantial decline. However, the cause and magnitude of the decline is not well understood. We set forth to address the first two of six previously proposed conservation prioritie...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The most significant threat to Short-eared Owls in North America is the loss or alteration of native grasslands, shrublands, and wetlands across the species’ range. Despite evidence that Short-eared Owl populations are experiencing long-term, range-wide, substantial declines in North America, very little population monitoring has been dedicated to...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
While alteration of the migratory habit of birds is widely regarded as one of the most evident ecological effects of climate change, studies reporting shifts in migration phenology for long-lived, long-distance migrants have been few. We set forth to analyze the effects of local and regional weather conditions on the migration counts and evaluate t...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The most significant threat to Short-eared Owls in North America is the loss or alteration of native grasslands, shrublands, and wetlands across the species’ range. Despite evidence that Short-eared Owl populations are experiencing long-term, range-wide, substantial declines in North America, very little population monitoring has been dedicated to...
Chapter
Full-text available
Climate change is having a dramatic effect on many migratory species. Changes in climate may lead to changes in food availability or other proximate cues that affect migratory behavior. We used 13 years (2000–2012) of data on songbird banding and raptor migration counts and captures during autumn migration in the intermountain West to evaluate whet...
Article
Full-text available
Melanism (dark coloration) is a condition resulting from a greater than normal expres-sion of the eumelanin pigments in the plumage (Gill 1990). The dark coloration can be advantageous to raptors by increasing the feathers' resistance to bacterial degradation (Goldstein et al. 2004). conversely, abnormally dark pigmentation can reduce success in pa...
Article
Full-text available
Weather has a significant effect on avian migration, but whether the influence is similar across diverse geographic regions and across all species remains to be determined. We evaluated the effect of regional cold fronts and localized weather phenomena on the timing of autumn migration of multiple species of landbirds and raptors in southwest Idaho...

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Projects

Projects (9)
Project
Evaluate land use land cover composition and other habitat attributes associated with osprey Daily Survival Rates.
Project
Pursue collaborative research projects focused on avian migration that expand international perspectives, advance migration science, and provide educational opportunities and experiences for participants.
Project
Every year in late spring and summer, biologists and technicians travel across the mountains, prairies and deserts of the western U.S. to survey birds under the Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions (IMBCR) program. The program, coordinated by Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, is one of the largest of its kind in North America, stretching across public and private land in many states in the western United States. What the Intermountain Bird Observatory and our partners learn through the IMBCR program informs management decisions and contributes to the big picture for bird and habitat conservation. Data gathered as part of the program are available at no cost through the Rocky Mountain Avian Data Center: http://rmbo.org/v3/avian/Home.aspx. Strengths of the IMBCR program include a statistically rigorous design based on random sampling, a broad network of partners that support the program and its reach across many states and boundary lines, including public and private lands. Partners include (but are not limited to) the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, state wildlife agencies and organizations such as the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, the University of Montana Avian Science Center and the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database. Christian Meny supervises Montana's portion of the Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions (IMBCR) program. Jessica Pollock, Jeremy Halka, and Tempe Regan manage the program in Idaho and Utah.