PhD and MS, Ecology, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL
BS, Wildlife Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Migratory birds matter. They are a remarkable part of our cultural, historical, and natural heritage; they provide ecosystem services including pest control and pollination; they are a source of recreation for tens of millions of people who feed, watch, and landscape their yards for birds; and they help support a vigorous wildlife watching industry.
My research explores the behavior and ecology of migratory birds and seeks to inform on their conservation and management. The work follows three broad themes: 1) understanding the behavior, ecology, and conservation of migrating birds, 2) determining how flying animals may be influenced by anthropogenic activity, especially in relation to energy development, and 3) advancing the remote sensing technologies biologists use to study birds and other wildlife.
Science and Products
Today, the alternative energy and telecommunications industries are developing the airspace much the way metropolitan growth and mechanized agriculture develop the landscape. NOROCK scientists and partners are using both historical and traditional technologies in new and innovative ways to observe wildlife behaviors in response to these changing habitats.
NOROCK scientists and collaborators are working to advance their tools of the trade. Specifically, weather radars, portable radars, thermal imaging cameras, and automated radio tracking are capable mature technologies, able to detect the movement patterns and other behaviors of flying animals at night and at distances far beyond the limits of human vision.
U.S. Geological Survey research contributes to conservation measures and improved management of migratory bird populations and their habitats across the United States. Migratory birds provide ecosystem benefits that include pest control, pollination of plants and serve as food sources for other wildlife. They are also a source of recreation for millions of bird watchers and enthusiasts who...
Linking animals aloft with the terrestrial landscape
Despite using the aerosphere for many facets of their life, most flying animals (i.e., birds, bats, some insects) are still bound to terrestrial habitats for resting, feeding, and reproduction. Comprehensive broad-scale observations by weather surveillance radars of animals as they leave terrestrial habitats for migration or feeding flights can be...Buler, Jeffrey J.; Barrow, Wylie; Boone, Matthew; Dawson, Deanna K.; Diehl, Robert H.; Moore, Frank R.; Randall, Lori A.; Schreckengost, Timothy; Smolinsky, Jaclyn A.
Evaluating the effectiveness of wildlife detection and observation technologies at a solar power tower facility
Solar power towers produce electrical energy from sunlight at an industrial scale. Little is known about the effects of this technology on flying animals and few methods exist for automatically detecting or observing wildlife at solar towers and other tall anthropogenic structures. Smoking objects are sometimes observed co-occurring with reflected...Diehl, Robert H.; Valdez, Ernest W.; Preston, Todd M.; Wellik, Mike J.; Cryan, Paul
Fat, weather, and date affect migratory songbirds’ departure decisions, routes, and time it takes to cross the Gulf of Mexico
Approximately two thirds of migratory songbirds in eastern North America negotiate the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), where inclement weather coupled with no refueling or resting opportunities can be lethal. However, decisions made when navigating such features and their consequences remain largely unknown due to technological limitations of tracking small...Deppe, Jill L.; Ward, Michael P.; Bolus, Rachel T.; Diehl, Robert H.; Celis-Murillo, A.; Zenzal, Theodore J.; Moore, Frank R.; Benson, Thomas J.; Smolinsky, Jaclyn A.; Schofield, Lynn N.; Enstrom, David A.; Paxton, Eben H.; Bohrer, Gil; Beveroth, Tara A.; Raim, Arlo; Obringer, Renee L.; Delaney, David; Cochran, William W.
Community for Data Integration 2014 annual report
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) researches Earth science to help address complex issues affecting society and the environment. In 2006, the USGS held the first Scientific Information Management Workshop to bring together staff from across the organization to discuss the data and information management issues affecting the integration and...Langseth, Madison L.; Chang, Michelle Y.; Carlino, Jennifer; Birch, Daniella D.; Bradley, Joshua; Bristol, R. Sky; Conzelmann, Craig; Diehl, Robert H.; Earle, Paul S.; Ellison, Laura E.; Everette, Anthony L.; Fuller, Pamela L.; Gordon, Janice M.; Govoni, David L.; Guy, Michelle R.; Henkel, Heather S.; Hutchison, Vivian B.; Kern, Tim; Lightsom, Frances L.; Long, Joseph W.; Longhenry, Ryan; Preston, Todd M.; Smith, Stan W.; Viger, Roland J.; Wesenberg, Katherine; Wood, Eric C.
Spring resource phenology and timing of songbird migration across the Gulf of Mexico
Migratory songbirds are advancing their arrival to breeding areas in response to climatic warming at temperate latitudes. Less is understood about the impacts of climate changes outside the breeding period. Every spring, millions of migrating songbirds that overwinter in the Caribbean and Central and South America stop to rest and refuel in the...Paxton, Eben H.; Cohen, Emily B.; Németh, Zoltan; Zenzal, Theodore J.; Paxton, Kristina L.; Diehl, Robert H.; Moore, Frank R.
Behavior of bats at wind turbines
Wind turbines are causing unprecedented numbers of bat fatalities. Many fatalities involve tree-roosting bats, but reasons for this higher susceptibility remain unknown. To better understand behaviors associated with risk, we monitored bats at three experimentally manipulated wind turbines in Indiana, United States, from July 29 to October 1, 2012...Cryan, Paul M.; Gorresen, P. Marcos; Hine, Cris D.; Schirmacher, Michael; Diehl, Robert H.; Huso, Manuela M.; Hayman, David T.S.; Fricker, Paul D.; Bonaccorso, Frank J.; Johnson, Douglas H.; Heist, Kevin W.; Dalton, David C.
Bird mortality during nocturnal migration over Lake Michigan: A case study
Millions of birds die each year during migration. Most of this mortality goes unobserved and conditions surrounding the actual events are often not thoroughly documented. We present a case study of substantial migrant casualties along the shores of southwestern Lake Michigan during May 1996 when we found 2,981 dead birds of 114 species, mostly...Diehl, Robert H.; Bates, John M.; Willard, David E.; Gnoske, Thomas P.
Factors influencing the movement biology of migrant songbirds confronted with an ecological barrier
Whether or not a migratory songbird embarks on a long-distance flight across an ecological barrier is likely a response to a number of endogenous and exogenous factors. During autumn 2008 and 2009, we used automated radio tracking to investigate how energetic condition, age, and weather influenced the departure timing and direction of Swainson...Smolinsky, J. A.; Diehl, Robert H.; Radzio, T. A.; Delaney, D. K.; Moore, F. R
The airspace is habitat
A preconception concerning habitat persists and has gone unrecognized since use of the term first entered the lexicon of ecological and evolutionary biology many decades ago. Specifically, land and water are considered habitats, while the airspace is not. This might at first seem a reasonable, if unintended, demarcation, since years of education...Diehl, Robert H.
Partly cloudy with a chance of migration: Weather, radars, and aeroecology
Aeroecology is an emerging scientific discipline that integrates atmospheric science, Earth science, geography, ecology, computer science, computational biology, and engineering to further the understanding of biological patterns and processes. The unifying concept underlying this new transdisciplinary field of study is a focus on the planetary...Chilson, Phillip B.; Frick, Winifred F.; Kelly, Jeffrey F.; Howard, Kenneth W.; Larkin, Ronald P.; Diehl, Robert H.; Westbrook, John K.; Kelly, T. Adam; Kunz, Thomas H.
Potential use of weather radar to study movements of wintering waterfowl
To protect and restore wintering waterfowl habitat, managers require knowledge of routine wintering waterfowl movements and habitat use. During preliminary screening of Doppler weather radar data we observed biological movements consistent with routine foraging flights of wintering waterfowl known to occur near Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge (...Randall, Lori A.; Diehl, Robert H.; Wilson, Barry C.; Barrow, Wylie C.; Jeske, Clinton W.
Bird migration patterns in the arid southwest-Final report
To ensure full life-cycle conservation, we need to understand migrant behavior en route and how migrating species use stopover and migration aerohabitats. In the Southwest, birds traverse arid and mountainous landscapes in migration. Migrants are known to use riparian stopover habitats; we know less about how migrant density varies across the...Ruth, Janet M.; Felix, Rodney K.; Dieh, Robert H.
Robb Diehl, research ecologist at the USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, explains how he uses remote sensing technology — particularly weather radar — to better understand how flying animals affect human activities.
Producer: Jacob Massey, USGS
Camera: Paul Laustsen, USGS
Video surveillance is the most effective method for detecting animals flying around solar power towers, according to a study of various techniques by the U.S. Geological Survey and its partners at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System facility in southeastern California.