Diving Beetles of the World. Johns Hopkins University Press Kelly Miller Lab

The focus of research in my laboratory is the study of the systematics of insects. Systematics is the subdiscipline of biology that documents the diversity of living things... no small task when it comes to insects. Systematists are concerned with establishing what species exist and how those species are related to each other as larger groups, and our activities result in a classification system (taxonomy) and historical context (phylogeny) that provides a foundation for all of biology.

Work by members of the lab have involved several groups of insects including slime-mold beetles (Agathidiini, Leiodidae), fungus beetles (Cucujoidea), diving beetles (Dytiscidae), whirligig beetles (Gyrinidae), longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae), band-wing grasshoppers (Oedipodinae) and webspinners (Embioptera), among others.

Miller Laboratory of Insect SystematicsWe use a variety of data to test relationships including DNA sequence data, adult and larval morphology, and behavior. Phylogenetic analysis is heavily theory-underladen with a variety of methodologies based on alternative viewpoints on their philosophical and practical ramifications. Whereas we prefer parsimony analysis of combined data, we are aware of the alternatives and regularly publish likelihood or Bayesian analyses. We are also aware of alternative DNA sequence alignment strategies and are actively involved in experimenting with these alternatives to develop reasonable alignments.

A primary goal of our results is to improve insect classification, but we also have interest in examining the evolution of various phenomena within a phylogenetic context including sexual conflict (diving beetles), mating behavior (diving beetles, band-wing grasshoppers), sound production, karyotype and habitat choice (band-wing grasshoppers) and silk spinning behavior, maternal care and silk gene sequence features (webspinners). Many of these projects are collaborative with other laboratories.

"I suppose you are an entomologist?"

"Not quite so ambitious as that, sir. I should like to put my eyes on the individual entitled to that name. No man can be truly called an entomologist, sir; the subject is too vast for any single human intelligence to grasp."

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Poet at the Breakfast Table


Kelly Miller Lab, Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, 167 Castetter Hall, MSC03 2020, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001 USA
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