Prof Patrick Miller:

My research focuses on communication and behavioural ecology of marine mammals. I record and describe the behaviour patterns of marine mammals in order to elucidate their function, and how life in the sea affects behaviour and physiology.  This research often makes use of novel research tools such as hydrophone arrays to identify which whale within a group is calling, and animal-attached tags.   Marine mammals live in a world increasingly affected by anthropogenic activity, and I have conducted several studies of how underwater noise affects behaviour of cetaceans, and the potential that disturbance might lead to lasting harm.


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 and anthropogenic stressors such as sonar might influence foraging, social interactions, swimming behaviour, and body condition.

Current Projects

Novel methods to study body condition of cetaceans at sea

Body condition influences how animals trade-off foraging and anti-predator behaviors, and modulates responses to human disturbance. However, current methods for estimating lipid store body condition in cetaceans are descriptive or do not measure full-body fat stores. In this study, we are working to validate, establish and utilize a novel, non-invasive method to measure total body lipid-stores of free-ranging cetaceans by analysis of their underwater swimming pattern. The results of this study will establish and validate an innovative technique to measure body condition in cetaceans, and examine the interplay of body condition with foraging and anti-predator behaviors and reproductive status of females.

Killer whales in the North Atlantic

Killer whales are generalist predators as a species, but each population seems to be remarkably specialized on certain prey types. This project seeks to describe natural behaviour of killer whales in the North Atlantic, focusing upon interatctions between foraging behaviour, social interactions and acoustic communication of herring-feeding killer whales. Work in this area also seeks to explore interactions of killer whales with other speces, and how killer whales respond to underwater noise.

Effects of noise on cetaceans and other animals

The underwater environment is subject to the input of noise from human activities, but there are wide gaps in our understanding about how noise might affect marine mammals. My work within the international collaboration known as '3S' has focused on describing how several species of cetaceans respond to experimental presentation of sonar and various control sounds including killer whale sounds. To aid in management of this important problem, a key component of this work is to determine the levels of noise at which responses start I am using animal models ranging from the fruit fly D montana to long-finned pilot whale to explore how noise influences communication systems and how signallers might respond to noise within ecological and evolutionary time scales.

source: symbiosis

Recent Publications:

5 (of 112 /dk/atira/pure/researchoutput/status/published available) for pm29 (source: University of St Andrews PURE)
Please click title of any item for full details

Aerial photogrammetry and tag-derived tissue density reveal patterns of lipid-store body condition of humpback whales on their feeding grounds Kagari Aoki, Saana Isojunno, Charlotte Bellot, takahashi Iwata, Joanna Louise Kershaw, Yu Akiyama, Lucía Martina Martín López, Christian Ramp, Martin Biuw, Paul Wensveen, Patrick Pomeroy, Tomoko Narazaki, Ailsa Jane Hall, Katsufumi Sato, Patrick James Miller
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences 2021 vol. 288
Indication that the behavioural responses of humpback whales to killer whale sounds are influenced by trophic relationships Benjamin Benti, Patrick James Miller, Martin Biuw, Charlotte Curé
Marine Ecology Progress Series 2021 vol. 660 pp. 217-232
Modeling potential masking of echolocating sperm whales exposed to continuous 1–2 kHz naval sonar A M von Benda-Beckmann, Saana Isojunno, M Zandvliet, M A Ainslie, Paul Wensveen, Peter Lloyd Tyack, P H Kvadsheim, F P A Lam, Patrick James Miller
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 2021 vol. 149 pp. 2908-2925
Severity scoring of behavioral responses of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) to novel continuous versus conventional pulsed active sonar Charlotte Curé, Saana Isojunno, Marije J. Siemensma, Paul Wensveen, Célia Buisson, Lise D. Sivle, Benjamin Benti, Rune Roland, Petter H. Kvadscheim, Frans-Peter A. Lam, Patrick James Miller
Journal of Marine Science and Engineering 2021 vol. 9
Using an omnidirectional video logger to observe the underwater life of marine animals Takashi Iwata, Martin Biuw, Kagari Aoki, Patrick James Miller, Katsufumi Sato
Behavioural processes 2021 vol. 186