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James Belthoff, Ph.D.

James Belthoff

Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
Year arrived at Boise State University:   1993

Mailing Address:
Department of Biological Sciences
1910 University Drive, Boise State University
Boise, ID 83725-1515

Office Location:   Science Building,  Room 119
Office Number:   208-426-4033
Fax Number:   208-426-1040
E-Mail Address:


  • B.S., Wildlife Biology, Colorado State University, 1982
  • M.S., Biological Sciences, Eastern Kentucky University, 1987
  • Ph.D., Zoology, Clemson University, 1992


  • BIOL 433/533 Behavioral Ecology
  • BIOL 434/534 Animal Behavior
  • BIOL 603 Advanced Biometry
  • BIOL 425 Basic and Applied Data Analysis in Biology
  • BIOL 505 Applied Raptor Biology
  • BIOL 562 Advanced Topics in Animal Behavior
  • BIOL 598 Graduate Seminar


burrowing owl banding, Birds of Prey Area, REU students with Jim Beltoff, Biology, John Kelly photoburrowing owl banding, Birds of Prey Area

I am interested in the behavioral ecology, physiology, conservation, and management of birds. Much of my research focuses on birds of prey as part of our Raptor Biology program, although my students and I also pursue research on other species. I have current projects related to the behavioral ecology and conservation of burrowing owls, roadway mortality of barn owls, population viability analysis of barn owls, post-fledging behavior of western screech-owls, the role of burrowing owls in plague ecology, host-parasite relationships in burrowing owls, and ecotoxicology of ferruginous hawks.

Students interested in graduate projects leading to either an MS or PhD can contact me directly. I am currently recruiting for  MS students to study in the Raptor Biology program to begin in Fall 2019 (see below).


I am currently recruiting for MS students for study in the Raptor Biology program at Boise State to begin in Fall 2019. These students would complete thesis research projects focused on either barn owls or burrowing owls with flexibility to help develop specific research questions. Applicants must have a BS in biology, ecology, conservation, evolution, or related field with ≥ 3.0 GPA and GRE scores that average in the upper 50%. If selected, students would be supported by departmental teaching assistantships that provide a stipend, tuition and fees, and student health insurance.

If interested, please send the following documents in one email to Dr. Belthoff by December 30, 2018: 1) A cover letter describing your interests, career goals, relevant research experiences and skills, 2) Your curriculum vitae with the contact information of three references, 3) A copy of academic transcripts (unofficial is fine), and 4) A copy of GRE scores (unofficial is fine). Finalists must be prepared to submit a formal application to the Boise State University Graduate College by 15 January 2019.


I also serve as Principal Investigator and Project Director for a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site in Raptor Research at Boise State University. This REU site is funded by the National Science Foundation, and Boise State University partners with the Raptor Research Center, Intermountain Bird Observatory, College of Western Idaho, The Peregrine Fund, Inc., and the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area to provide opportunities for undergraduate research focused on birds of prey. Please see our program web site for further information

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  • Wade, J.L. and J.R. Belthoff. Behavioral responses of burrowing owls to experimental conspecific brood parasitism. Journal of Avian Biology: submitted.
  • Navock, K.A., D.H. Johnson, S. Evans, M. Kohn, and J.R. Belthoff. 2019. Investigation of the geographic origin of burrowing owl fleas with implications for the ecology of plague. The Auk: Ornithological Advances: in press.
  • Regan, R., C.J.W. McClure, and J.R. Belthoff. Assessing patterns of barn owl (Tyto alba) occupancy from call broadcast surveys. Wildlife Biology: in press.
  • Arnold, E.M., S.W. Hanser, T. Regan, J. Thompson, M. Lowe, A. Kociolek, and J.R. Belthoff. 2018. Spatial, road geometric and biotic factors associated with barn owl mortality along an interstate highway. Ibis: International Journal of Avian Science: in press.
  • Scholer, M.N., M. Leu, and J.R. Belthoff. 2018. Patterns of co-occurrence in woodpeckers and nocturnal cavity-nesting owls within an Idaho forest. Avian Conservation & Ecology 13(1):18.
  • Riding, C.S. and J.R. Belthoff. 2018. Breeding dispersal by burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) in Idaho. Journal of Raptor Research 52:143-157.
  • Stuber, M.J., M.J. Hooper, and J.R. Belthoff. 2018. Examination of pesticide exposure in burrowing owls nesting in agricultural and nonagricultural areas in the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, Idaho. Journal of Raptor Research 52:191-206.
  • Sur, M., J.R. Belthoff, E.R. Bjerre, B.A. Millsap, and T. Katzner. 2018. The utility of point count surveys to predict wildlife interactions with wind energy facilities: An example focused on golden eagles. Ecological Indicators 88:126-133.
  • Rus, A.I., A.E. Duerr, T.A. Miller, J.R. Belthoff, and T.E. Katzner. 2017. Counterintuitive roles of experience and weather on migratory performance. The Auk, Ornithological Perspectives 134:485-497.
  • Wade, J.L. and J.R. Belthoff. 2016. Responses of female burrowing owls to alterations in clutch size: are burrowing owls determinate or indeterminate egg-layers? Journal of Raptor Research 50:84-91.
  • Belthoff, J.R., S.A. Bernhardt, C.L. Ball, M. Gregg, D.H. Johnson, R. Ketterling, E. Price, and J.K. Tinker. 2015. Burrowing owls, Pulex irritans, and plague. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases 15:556-564.
  • Graham, C.B., R.J. Eisen, and J.R. Belthoff. 2015. Detecting burrowing owl bloodmeals in Pulex irritans (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae). Journal of Medical Entomology 177:446-450.
  • Belthoff, J., E. Arnold, T. Regan, T. Allen, and A. Kociolek. 2015. Assessing feasibility of mitigating barn owl-vehicle collisions in southern Idaho. RP 226, Idaho Transportation Department Research Program. 147 pp.
  • Riding, C.S. and J.R. Belthoff. 2015. Removal of old nest material decreases reuse of artificial burrows by burrowing owls. Wildlife Society Bulletin 39:521-528.
  • Scholer, N.M., M. Leu, and J.R. Belthoff. 2014. Factors associated with flammulated owl and northern saw-whet owl occupancy in southern Idaho. Journal of Raptor Research 48:128-141.
  • Welty, J.L., J.R. Belthoff, J.R. Egbert, and H. Schwabl. 2012. Relationships between yolk androgens and nest density, laying date, and laying order in western burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia hypugaea). Canadian Journal of Zoology 90:182-192.
  • Boves, T.J. and J.R. Belthoff. 2012. Roadway mortality of barn owls in Idaho, USA. Journal of Wildlife Management 76:1381-1392.


  • Dr. Maitreyi Sur, Postdoctoral Research Associate
  • Ariana Dickson, Raptor Biology MS Program
  • Sara Pourzamani, Raptor Biology MS Program
  • Skyler Swiecki, Raptor Biology MS Program


  • R. Andrew King – US Fish and Wildlife Service, Indiana
  • Ethan Ellsworth – Bureau of Land Management, Idaho
  • Brian Herting – Yakima School District, Washington
  • Kurt Zwolfer – Idaho Historical Society, Idaho
  • Ryan Brady – Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources
  • Catherine Rideout – US Fish and Wildlife Service, Georgia
  • Katie McVey – US Fish and Wildlife Service, Utah
  • Keith Barnes – Boise School District, Idaho
  • Nicole Taylor – College of Idaho
  • Colleen Moulton – Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game
  • Than Boves – Arkansas State University
  • Matt Stuber – US Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon
  • Brian Smith – US Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado
  • Micah Scholer – University of British Columbia, Canada
  • Justin Welty – US Geological Survey, Idaho
  • Corey Riding – Oklahoma State University
  • Chris Porterfield – Rocky Mountain Power
  • Jamie Wade – Biological Consultant, Alaska
  • Erin Arnold – Santa Barbara Zoo, California
  • Tempe Regan – Idaho Department of Fish and Game
  • Diane White – USGS/Idaho Division of the Military, Idaho


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