Profile for Markus Mika

Markus Mika profile photo

Specialty area(s)

Breeding ecology, life history, phylogeography, and evolution in birds

Brief biography

I am an avian biologist with a background in ecology, evolution, and conservation. I started working on a northern Utah Flammulated Owl project during the summer field seasons from 1999 to 2002 for my MS degree gathering breeding and foraging data. My doctoral research at the University of Nevada Las Vegas included travel between southern Mexico and British Columbia for five years (2003-2008) investigating the evolutionary history of bird populations, specifically small owls, using genetic markers. After finishing the Ph.D., I returned to Utah gathering longterm nesting data on Flammulated Owls ever since 2011. I worked as Science Director at HawkWatch International leading raptor conservation and citizen science efforts across the western United States. Starting in January 2015, I have been teaching in the Biology Department here at UWL.

Current courses at UWL

Fall semester: Bio 488 (mammalogy), Bio 203 lab (organismal biology), and Bio 105 lab (general biology)

Spring semester: Bio 203 lab and Bio 321 (ornithology)

Bio 491 (capstone)


  • B.S. Conservation Biology (Wildlife emphasis) BYU 1995
  • M.S. Zoology BYU 2003
  • Ph.D. Biological Sciences UNLV 2010

Teaching history

Associate Lecturer at UW La Crosse since January 2015. Graduate faculty status since March 2018.

Professional history

  • 2001 Independent biological consultant working on avian and mammalian conservation projects
  • 2010 Science Director at HawkWatch International
  • 2015 Associate Lecturer at UW La Crosse

Research and publishing

I conduct summer research in northern Utah and southeastern Arizona on breeding, foraging, and resource availability for Flammulated Owls (Psiloscops flammeolus) and other small forest owl species. Field research includes the trapping (mist netting & capture at nest sites), handling, and banding of birds, setting up Malaise insect traps, and evaluating of habitat characteristics and quality. In lab, students help with estimates of timing, diversity, and abundance of food resources in relation to owl nesting sites.

I also offer a variety of chances to learn curatorial skills managing the department bird collection used for ornithology and a museum exhibit in Cowley Hall and later at Prairie Springs Science Center.