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Jeremy Miller

Photo of Jeremy Miller

Education

B.A., B.S., The Evergreen State College, 1994
M.S., Biology, Western Carolina University, 1996
Ph.D., Department of Biological Sciences, George Washington University

Biographical Note

My function as a writer is quite different from most of those featured on your web page. This will make my participation either out of place or particularly interesting or both. I am a biologist working on spiders. I have one published paper and have two more in press. My published paper (with masters thesis advisor Fred Coyle) is a reconstruction of relationships among a lineage of spiders. We use our phylogenetic hypothesis, along with data from a fossil spider and the distributions of living species, to construct a story of how major geologic and climatic events may have affected these spiders. My upcoming papers both stem from my masters thesis work on a genus of spiders from North America and Asia. One of these papers involves the description of several new species, including one which will be named in recognition of Evergreen. After graduating from Evergreen in 1994, I went to Western Carolina University (Cullowhee, North Carolina) to work on a masters degree. I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. from The George Washington University (Washington, D.C.) with support from the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. My position gives me the opportunity to do a good deal of traveling. In the past three years, I have worked in Tanzania, Colombia, Costa Rica and Guyana. My primary interest is in the evolution and biodiversity of spiders.

Spiders are the seventh most diverse order of organisms with 35,000 species described, an estimated 20% of the total number. The Smithsonian is interested in documenting world biodiversity at the end of the twentieth century. As global forest cover continues to decline, spider diversity is certain to decrease as well. We use repeatable methods to provide baseline data on spider biodiversity. Later generations of scientists will be able to repeat our studies and quantify declines.

Investigating the evolution of spiders involves obtaining specimens, making observations about the characteristics of each species, organizing observations into a matrix, and formulating a hypothesis to account for all the different changes in homologous characteristics. With so many species undescribed, collecting expeditions nearly always yield new species, especially from tropical regions. These new or poorly known taxa may be key to resolving relationships among groups of spiders. Although a few parts of the world have nearly complete knowledge of their spider fauna (e.g., western Europe, Japan), most of the world is poorly known. Even in the United States, taxonomic knowledge is spotty with some groups well known and others difficult to identify, even as to genus.

My other interests include the philosophy of science, methods of phylogenetic reconstruction, and using the Internet to freely and instantaneously distribute information about specimen records, species identification, and taxonomic relationships.

Publication Type

Scholastic

Latest Publication Title

Miller, J. A. 1999 "Revision and cladistic analysis of the erigonine spider genus Sisicottus," (Araneae, Linyphiidae, Erigoninae). Journal of Arachnology, 27, (553-603).

Additional Publications

"On the phylogenetic relationships of Sisicottus hibernus," (Araneae, Linyphuidae, Erigoninae). Journal of Arachnology,  27 (44-52), 1999
"Progress in Neotropical erigonine systematics," American Arachnological Society, Trinidad, 1999
"A cladistic revision of Sisicottus," (Araneae, Linyphiidae, Erigoninae): systematics without monotypic genera. International Congress of Arachnology, Chicago, 1998
"Cladistic analysis of the erigonine spider genus Sisicottus," (Araneae, Linyphiidae). Willi Hennig Society, Washington, D.C., 1997
"Cladistic analysis of the Atypoidesplus Antrodiaetuslineage of mygalomorph spiders," (Araneae, Antrodiaetidae). Journal of Arachnology, 24(3):201-213, 1996
"Cladistic analysis of the Atypoidesplus Antrodiaetuslineage of mygalomorph spiders," (Araneae, Antrodiaetidae). American Arachnological Society, Columbia, Missouri, 1995

Selected Grants and Awards:

Dole Food Fellowship (Donald and Beverly Stone Endowment), Organization for Tropical Studies post course award, research expenses, 1999
American Arachnological Society Fund for Arachnological Research, travel and research expenses, 1998
Second place in the Best Student Paper Competition, Systematics Division, International Congress of Arachnology, 1998
Second place in the Best Student Paper Competition, American Arachnological Society, 1995
American Museum of Natural History Theodore Roosevelt Memonal Fund, research expenses, 1995

Publication Excerpt

"Cladistic analysis of the Atypoidesplus Antrodiaetus Lineage of the Mygalomorph Spiders," (Araneae, Antrodiaetidae). Jeremy A. Miller and Frederick A. Coyle, Journal of Arachnology, 24 (3): 201-213, 1996:

ABSTRACT. Cladistic analyses of the antrodiaetid spider genera AtypoidesO.P. - Cambridge 1883 and AntrodiaetusAusserer 1871 yield a much more completely resolved phylogeny than that proposed by Coyle in 1971. Twenty-nine potentially informative characters were used in the analyses, which were performed using PAUP's a posterioriweighting options. Three independent analyses were performed, each with a different outgroup. These outgroups were 1) the antrodiaetid genus AliatypusSmith 1908, the putative sister group of Atypoidesplus Antrodiaetus, 2) Aliatypus gulosus Coyle 1974, the most primitive Aliatypus species, and 3) a hypothetical ancestral taxon based on character states found in Aliatypusand the Atypidae, the latter being the putative sister group of the antrodiaetids. These three analyses produced a total of eight most parsimonious trees which support the following principal conclusions: 1) Atypoides,as defined by Coyle, is paraphyletic (Atypoides riversi0. P. - Cambridge 1883 plus At. gertschiCoyle 1968 share with Antrodiaetusa common ancestor not shared with Ar. hadrosCoyle 1968). 2) Antrodiaetus roretzi(L. Koch 1878) is a relict species which shares a unique common ancestor with all other Antrodiaetusspecies. 3) Coyle's unicolorgroup of nine Antrodiaetusspecies is paraphyletic; six of these form a recently-derived clade, (Antrodiaetus occultusCoyle 1971 (An. yesoensis[Uyemura 1942], An. cerberusCoyle 1971, (An. montanus [Chamberlin & Ivie 1933], (An. pugnax[Chamberlin 1917], An. hageni[Chamberlin 1917]), and the other three species, An. pacificus(Simon 1884), An. robustus(Simon 1890), and An. unicolor(Hentz 1841), are derived from more ancestral stock. 4) Coyle's lincolnianusgroup of three Antrodiaetusspecies, An. lincolnianus(Worley 1928), An. stygiusCoyle 1971, and An. apachecusCoyle 1971, represents a valid clade. Our phylogeny suggests that two separate vicariance events led to the evolution of the two east Asian members of this otherwise North American assemblage. Vicariance events that are indicated by geological evidence and consistent with our phylogeny are postulated to account for the present distribution of North American species. New putative synapomorphies of Antrodiaetus,and of Antrodiaetusplus Atypoides, are proposed.