University of St Andrews
 
 

Dr Patrick Miller
Reader

Bute Building
University of St Andrews
St Andrews
Fife
KY16 9TS
UK

My research focuses on social communication and behavioral ecology of marine mammals. I record and describe the behaviour patterns of marine mammals in order to elucidate their function, often using novel research tools. I seek to unravel how the marine environment influences foraging, social interactions, and swimming behaviour.

Current Projects

Foraging and social behaviour of sperm whales

Sperm whales are prodigious divers. We have used acoustic and motion-recording suction-cup tags their diving, sound production, and resting behaviour. We now know that sperm whales spend over 50% of their time actively pursuing prey at depth. My lab is working to describe other aspects of sperm whale behaviour, including how and when sperm whales rest, and possibly sleep, within their busy dive schedule.

Diverse feeding habits of killer whales:mammal –eaters versus herring - herders

Killer whales are generalist predators as a species, but each population is remarkably specialized on certain prey types. This project seeks to describe how prey type might relate to population-level differences in foraging and social behaviour.

Effects of noise on communication

To be effective in communication, signals must be detected and decoded in the presence of noise. I am using animal models ranging from the fruit fly D montana to the humpback whale to explore how noise influences communication systems and how signallers might respond to noise within ecological and evolutionary time scales.

 

Publications

Miller, P , Antunes, RN , Wensveen, PJ , Samarra, FIP , Alves, ACDC , Tyack, PL , Kvadsheim, PH, Kleivane, L, Lam, F-PA, Ainslie, MA & Thomas, L 2014, ' Dose-response relationships for the onset of avoidance of sonar by free-ranging killer whales ' Journal of the Acoustical Society of America , vol 135, no. 975.
Aoki, K , Sakai, M , Miller, P , Visser, F & Sato, K 2013, ' Body contact and synchronous diving in long-finned pilot whales ' Behavioural Processes , vol 99, pp. 12-20.
Oliveira, C, Wahlberg, M , Johnson, M , Miller, PJO & Madsen, PT 2013, ' The function of male sperm whale slow clicks in a high latitude habitat: Communication, echolocation, or prey debilitation? ' Journal of the Acoustical Society of America , vol 133, no. 5, pp. 3135-3144.
Cure, C , Antunes, RN , Alves, ACDC , Visser, F, Kvadsheim, PH & Miller, P 2013, ' Responses of male sperm whales ( Physeter macrocephalus ) to killer whale sounds: implications for anti-predator strategies ' Scientific Reports , vol 3, 1579.
von Benda-Beckman, A, Wensveen, PJ, Kvadsheim, P, Lam, FP , Miller, P , Tyack, PL & Ainslie, M 2013, ' Modeling effectiveness of gradual increases in source level to mitigate effects of sonar on marine mammals. ' Conservation Biology .
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