US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Connie Millar

Constance I. Millar

Research Paleoecologist
800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710
Phone: 510-559-6435

Current Research

My early career addressed questions on population-, evolutionary-, and conservation-genetics of conifer forests. Currently my research team focuses on the role of historic and ongoing climate change in high-elevation forest biogeography, demography, and adaptation. We use tools from Quaternary Sciences, primarily dendrochronology, combined with traditional forest ecology and genetics methods to investigate effects of historic climate change on structure, composition, and function of subalpine meadows and forests in the Sierra Nevada and western Great Basin. Little research has been undertaken to explore the importance of decadal- and century-scale climate change during the last 3000 years as an ecosystem architect relative to other disturbance agents or human effects. My team also focuses on effects of 20th/21st century climate change on high-elevation ecosystems and interactions with global warming. In addition to Quaternary climate and environmental effects, I continue to study Tertiary evolutionary dynamics of pines of the world, especially western North America, and have taken my passion for rock glaciers and periglacial rock-ice features into my research scope.

Video: Climate Change and the American Pika

Most recently my research team is undertaking distributional and climatic studies of American pika (Ochotona princeps) and its association with periglacial alpine landforms. In this video, I talk about how the small montane mammals in the Eastern Sierra have actually been shown to adapt to the changing conditions.

My other primary research interest is the integration of science with policy at the ecoregional and interdisciplinary scale. I am especially interested in communicating and interpreting current research on climate change and its ecological effects in conservation and restoration contexts. During the 1990s, I developed a "Building Bridges Between Science and Management" program while on sabbatical at the Inyo National Forest, eastern Sierra Nevada; served as assistant team leader and science team member for the Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project; science team member for the Sierra Nevada Research Planning Program; team leader for the Sierra Nevada Science Review; and science advisor to the early stages of the Sierra Nevada Framework EIS project. I remain committed to integration and interdisciplinary synthesis efforts and in the early 2000s, joined with colleagues to form the Consortium for Integrated Climate Research in Western Mountains (CIRMOUNT). In recent years, colleagues from USFS and I formed the Westwide Climate Initiative, an effort committed to developing climate-adaptation tools for resource management.

Rock Glacier and Related Rock-Ice Feature Inventory for the Sierra Nevada, CA, USA. Our database of locations and attributes is on the National Snow and Ice Data Center. You can view information and download data from this site.

PIKA INFORMATION: Please write me if you are interested in the latest copy of our pika site-occurrence database. The survey form we use for rapid-assessment of pika sites is here. Pika Survey Form

Research Interests

In the future, I plan to continue studies aimed at better understanding historical and future responses of mountain ecosystems to climate variability.

Past Research

My early career addressed questions on population-, evolutionary-, and conservation-genetics of conifer forests.


  • University of California, Ph.D. Genetics, 1985
  • University of California, M.S. Wildland Resources Science, 1979
  • University of Washington, B.S. Forest Science, 1977

Professional Organizations

  • Consortium for Integrated Climate Research in Western Mountains (CIRMOUNT), Co-Director
  • North American Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments (GLORIA) Chapter, Co-Chair

Publications & Products

Last updated on : 08/20/2014