Joshua Miller

Josh received his Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology in 2009.

Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow, Wright State University

Animal communities worldwide are facing ecological perturbations due to rapid climate change, habitat destruction, and over-harvesting. However, the paucity of long-term, multigenerational studies of these populations (including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects) limits our ability to accurately track ecological changes and evaluate the magnitude and significance of these disturbances. Thus, for the majority of animal communities it has been difficult to acquire historical ecological data and to establish conservation and remediation goals that incorporate population variability over decadal-to-centennial timescales. Modern surficial vertebrate death assemblages—surface accumulations of skeletal remains from multiple generations—are untapped sources of historical ecological insight and baseline community data. Josh Miller’s research tests the fidelity of bone accumulations in Yellowstone National Park with respect to current and historical mammal populations. Using these tests, Josh is developing bone surveys as a new tool for providing quantitative community ecology data on mammalian faunas from today and those from decades to centuries ago. This tool will be particularly useful for localities where population surveys have been historically poor or non-existent. Josh’s research is also helping to clarify the kinds of ecological data potentially available in large-mammal fossil deposits and determining new collection strategies and analytical protocols for improving paleoecological reconstructions of extinct ecosystems.