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Scholarly Interest Report
         
Thomas Miller
Assistant Professor
Godwin Assistant Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
 
e-mail:tom.miller@rice.edu
 
  • B.A. Biology (2002) Colgate University
  • Ph.D. Ecology (2007) University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA
 
Primary Department
   Department of BioSciences
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Department Affiliations
 
  • Department of BioSciences
  •  
    Websites
     Tom Miller Lab
     
    Research Areas
     demography, population, dynamics, plant-animal interactions, life history evolution, theory-data interface
     

    Population dynamics and the population-level consequences of inter-specific interactions

     

    Research in my lab addresses fundamental questions regarding population dynamics and the population-level consequences of inter-specific interactions, mostly in plant and insect systems. My work spans population, community, and evolutionary ecology, including the spread of biological invasions, the dynamics of consumer-resource and host-symbiont interactions, and the evolution of life histories. 2014miller.jpg My interests are broad but united by an emphasis on demography and demographic structure. Most natural populations are demographically heterogeneous – some individuals are small, some are large; some are young, some are old; some are female, some are male, etc. – and individuals in these different categories can have very different vital rates. This simple observation is central to the study of population dynamics and can also be a critical ingredient of spatial processes, inter-specific interactions, and community dynamics, as ecologists are just beginning to understand.


    I address research questions using both empirical and theoretical methods, and I am particularly excited about the integration of data and theory. Much of my work is characterized by the dual approach of exploring the behavior of general models, and tethering models to particular biological systems. In practice, this means I use observations and experiments to estimate model parameters and evaluate how those parameters respond to particular factors of interest. To this end, I rely heavily on maximum likelihood and information-theoretic approaches to experimental design and data analysis, and less so on frequentist hypothesis-testing (though I do some of this too). The interplay of theory and data is a powerful way to connect patterns we observe in nature to the processes that generate them. I also believe that attention to natural history is an important part of this process.


    Empirical work in my lab focuses on insects, plants, and their ecological interactions (including plant-insect mutualism, herbivory, and plant-microbe symbiosis). These groups are experimentally tractable, relevant in many applied contexts, and are just plain cool. I conduct field studies in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Florida. I also conduct population dynamics experiments using Bruchid beetle colonies in the laboratory


    Pubmed Search for articles by TE Miller

     
    Teaching Areas
     Population biology, Statistics, Insect Biology
     
    Selected Publications
     Refereed articles
     

    Elderd, B.D. and T.E.X. Miller. Quantifying uncertainty in demographic models: Bayesian methods for Integral Projection Models. Ecological Monographs (in press) 

     
     
     

    **Compagnoni, A., †Bibian, A.J., †Ochocki, B.M., Rogers, H.S., †Schultz, E., †Sneck, M.E., Elderd, B.D., Iler, A., Inouye, D., Jacquemyn, H. and T.E.X. Miller. The effect of demographic correlations on the stochastic population dynamics of perennial plants. (in review)

     
     
     

    Chung, Y., T.E.X. Miller, and J.A. Rudgers. 2015. Fungal symbionts maintain rare host plant populations but demographic advantage drives the dominance of common hosts. Journal of Ecology 103:967-977 

     
     
     

    †Downey, M.H., *Searle, R., *Bellur, S., *Geiger, A., Maitner, B., *Ohm, J., Tuda, M., and ‡T.E.X. Miller. 2015. A comparative approach to testing hypotheses for the evolution of sex-biased dispersal in bean beetles. Evolutionary Ecology 5:4819–4828 

     
     
     

    Petry, W.K., Soule, J.D., Iler, A.M., Chicas-Mosier, A, Inouye, D.W., Miller, T.E.X., Mooney, K.A. Sex-specific responses to climate change alter population sex ratio and performance.  (in review)

     
     
     

    Williams, J.L., Jacquemyn, H., †Ochocki, B., Brys, R. and T.E.X. Miller. 2015. Life history evolution under climate change and its influence on the population dynamics of a long-lived plant. Journal of Ecology 103:798-808 

     

     

     
     

    †Bibian, A.J., Rudgers, J.A., and T.E.X. Miller. The role of host demographic storage in the dynamics of vertically transmitted symbionts. American Naturalist (in review)

     
     

    Miller, T.E.X. 2014.  Plant size and reproductive state affect the quantity and quality of rewards to animal mutualists. Journal of Ecology 102:496-507.

     
     

    Miller, T.E.X. and J.A. Rudgers. 2014.  Niche differentiation in the dynamics of host-symbiont interactions: symbiont prevalence as a coexistence problem. American Naturalist 183:506-518

     
     

    Ohm, J.R. And T.E.X. Miller. 2014. Balancing anti-herbivore benefits and anti-pollinator costs of defensive mutualists. Ecology 95:2924-2935

     
     

    Snyder, K.T., Freidenfelds, N., and T.E.X. Miller. 2014. Consequences of sex-selective harvesting and harvest refuges in experimental metapopulations. Oikos  123:309-314

     
     

    *Wagner, N.K., †Ochocki, B.M., Crawford, K. and ‡T.E.X. Miller. Genetic mixture promotes invasive range expansion via a catapult effect of heterosis.  (in review)

     
     

    Miller, T.E.X. and B.D. Inouye. 2013. Sex and stochasticity affect range expansion of experimental invasions. Ecology Letters 16:354-361.  Faculty of 1000 selection

     
     

    *Yule, K.M., T.E.X. Miller, and J.A. Rudgers. 2013.  Costs, benefits, and loss of vertically transmitted symbionts affect host population dynamics. Oikos 122(10): 1512-1520.

     
     

    Miller, T.E.X., J.L. Williams, E. Jongejans, R. Brys, and H. Jacquemyn. 2012. Evolutionary demography of iteroparous plants: incorporating non-lethal costs of reproduction into integral projection models. Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B 279:2831-2840.

     
     

    Rudgers, J.A., Miller, T.E.X., Ziegler, S.M., and K.D. Craven. 2012. There are many ways to be a mutualist: endophytic fungus reduces plant survival but increases population growth. Ecology 93:565-574.

     
     

    Williams, J.L., T.E.X. Miller, and S.P. Ellner. 2012. Avoiding unintentional eviction from integral projection models. Ecology 93:2008-2014

     
     

    Holland, J.N., Chamberlain, S.A., and T.E.X. Miller. 2011. Consequences of ants and extrafloral nectar for a pollinating seed-consuming mutualism: ant satiation, floral distraction, or plant defense? Oikos 120:381-388.

     
     

    Lee, C.T., Miller, T.E.X., and B.D. Inouye. 2011. Consumer effects on the vital rates of their resource can determine the outcome of competition between consumers.  American Naturalist 178:452-463

     
     

    Miller, T.E.X. and B.D. Inouye. 2011. Confronting two-sex demographic models with data.  Ecology 92:2141-2151

     
     

    Miller, T.E.X., Shaw, A.K., Inouye, B.D., and M.A. Neubert. 2011. Sex-biased dispersal and the speed of two-sex invasions. American Naturalist 177:549-561.

     
     

    Miller, T.E.X. and B. Tenhumberg. 2010. Contributions of demography and dispersal parameters to the spatial spread of a stage-structured insect invasion. Ecological Applications 20: 620-633

     
     

    Miller, T.E.X. and B. Tenhumberg. 2010. Contributions of demography and dispersal parameters to the spatial spread of a stage-structured insect invasion. Ecological Applications 20: 620-633

     
     

    Miller, T.E.X., J.C. Legaspi, and B. Legaspi. 2010. Experimental test of biotic resistance to an invasive herbivore provided by potential plant mutualists. Biological Invasions 12: 3563-3577

     
     

    Miller, T.E.X., S.M. Louda, K.A. Rose, and J. Eckberg. 2009. Impacts of insect herbivory on cactus population dynamics: experimental demography across an environmental gradient. Ecological Monographs 79: 155-172

     
     

    Robbins, M. and T.E.X. Miller. 2009. Patterns of ant activity on Opuntia stricta (Cactaceae), a native host-plant of the invasive cactus moth, Cactoblastis cactorum (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). Florida Entomologist 92: 391-393

     
     

    Rominger, A.J., T.E.X. Miller, and Collins, S.L. 2009. Relative contributions of neutral and niche-based processes to the structure of a desert grassland grasshopper community. Oecologia 161:791-800

     
     

    Takahashi, M., Louda, S.M., Miller, T.E.X., and C.W. O'Brien. 2009. Occurrence of the biological control weevil, Trichosirocalus horridus (Panzer), on a newly acquired native host plant and on a pre-adapted, targeted exotic thistle. Environmental Entomology 38: 731-740

     
     Articles
     

    Miller, T.E.X. and B.D. Inouye. Sex-biased dispersal, two-sex demography, and the spatial spread of biological invasions

     
     Other
     

    Miller, T.E.X. and V.H.W. Rudolf. 2011.  Thinking inside the box: the importance of stage structure in consumer-resource interactions. (invited review) Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26:457-466.

     
    Presentations
     Invited Talks
     

    Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting Baltimore, August 2015 (Organized oral session on Allee effects) 

     
     

    "Ecological interactions of plants through the lens of demography." UNM Sevelleta Field Station summer Seminar, Albuquerque, NM. (June 2015)

     
     

    Bonner, T, Rudgers, J ad Miller, TEX (Presenter) 2015. Effects of microbial symbionts on host population dynamics in stochastic environments. Conference talk 2015 Evolutionary Demography Society Annual Conference, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

     
     

    Invited instructor .  "Enchancing Linkages between Mathematics and Ecology ." Kellogg Biological Station ,

     
     

    Invited Seminar, College of William and Mary, Department of Biology, November 2015

     
     

    Invited Seminar, Sam Houston State University, Department of Biology, February 2015

     
     

    "Sam Houston State University, Department of Biology ." (February 2015)

     
     

    "University of New Mexico Sevilleta Field Station ." (May 2015)

     
     

    Botanical Society of America Annual Meeting, Symposium on modeling plant reproductive strategies, Boise, ID, July 2014

     
     

    University of Georgia, Odum School of Ecology, September 2014

     
     

    University of New Mexico, Department of Biology, January 2014

     
     

    Michigan State University, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology and Kellogg Biological Station, November 2013

     
     

    University of Oklahoma (Dept. of Botany and Microbiology), March 2011

     
     

    National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Santa Barbara, CA, April 2011

     
     

    Sevilleta Long-Term Ecological Research Site, May 2011

     
     

    University of Iowa (Dept. of Biology), February 2011

     
     

    Virginia Commonwealth University (Dept. of Biology), February 2011

     
     

    "Sex, density dependence, and the spread of invasive species." Florida State University, (November 2009)

     
     Other
     

    Neubert, MG, (Presenter) Sullivan, S, and Miller, TEX.  2015. Allee effects and density-dependent dispersal interact to generate variable invasion speed.  Organized Oral Session 2015 Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MD

     
     

    Ochocki, B (Presenter) and Miller, TEX.  2015. Demographic stochasticity and the evolution of life history traits during range expansion.  Organized Oral Session 2015 Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MD

     
     

    Wagner, N, Ochocki, B, and Miller, TEX (Presenter).  2015. Genetic mixture promotes invasive range expansion via a catapult effect of heterosis.  Contributed Talk 2015 Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MD

     
     

    Compagnoni, A (Presenter), Miller, TEX, and Steigman, K.  2015.  Quantifying positive and negative interactions between the sexes. Contributed Talk2015 Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MD

     
     

    Sneck, M (Presenter), Miller, TEX, and Steigman, K.  2015.  The influence of host outcrossing on symbiont vertical transmission rates. Contributed Talk 2015 Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MD

     
     

    Ignite ESA Session Speaker.  "Dynamics of range expansion." Ecological Society of America (ESA) Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN. (August 7, 2013)

     
     

    Co-Author.  "Historical demography along a climatic gradient: Generating predictions of population responses to climate change in the montane dioecious herb Valeriana edulis." Ecological Society of America (ESA) Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN. (August 7, 2013) With WK Petry, JD Soule, KA Mooney

     
     

    Co-Author.  "Negative and positive effects of climate change on the demography of a subalpine perennial plant." Ecological Society of America (ESA) Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN. (Aug 6, 2013) With A Iler, DW Inouye, JL Williams

     
     

    Co-organizers.  "Sex-Structured Population Dynamics: Theoretical and Empirical Approaches." Ecological Society of America (ESA) Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN. (Aug 6, 2013) With MG Neubert

     
     

    Organized Oral Session.  "Slowing down a sex-structured invasion." Ecological Society of America (ESA) Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN. (Aug 6, 2013)

     
     Posters
     

    co-author.  "Effects of mutualists on the responses of demographic rates to inter-annual variability." Ecological Society of America (ESA), Sacramento, CA. (Aug 14, 2014) With Teresa F Bohner, Jennifer A Rudgers, Alan Shadow

     
     

    co-author.  "The influence of environment and gene flow on fungal endophyte frequencies and vertical transmission rates in two native host grass species Elymus virginicus and E. canadensis." Ecological Society of America (ESA), Sacramento, CA. (Aug 11, 2014) With Michelle E. Sneck

     
     

    Co-Author.  "Elucidating the effects of nectar carbohydrate composition on ant behavior." Ecological Society of America (ESA) Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN. (Aug 9, 2013) With RR Patterson, M Donald, O Ragni

     
     

    Co-Author.  "Understanding how gene flow changes adaptive potential: a laboratory study using Bruchid beetles." Evolution, Snowbird, UT. (June 2013) With Downey, M

     
     

    Yule, K, TEX Miller and JA Rudgers. A vertically transmitted symbiont affects host population dynamics. ESA 96th Annual Meeting, August 7 - 12, 2011, Austin, TX

     
     Seminar Speaker
     

    co-author.  "Dispersal kernel heritability in Callosobruchus maculatus and implications for the velocity of range expansion." Ecological Society of America (ESA), Sacramento, CA. (Aug 13, 2014) With Brad Ochocki, presenter Adam Geiger

     
     

    "Life history evolution under climate change and its influence on the population dynamics of a long-lived plant." Botany 2014, Boise, ID. (July 30, 2014)

     
     

    co-author.  "Native insect herbivory and density influence the establishment and invasion trajectories of a non-native thistle." Ecological Society of America (ESA), Sacramento, CA. (Aug 13, 2014) With Emily Schultz, presenter James Eckberg, Sergey S. Berg, Jr., Brigitte Tenhumberg, Svata M Louda

     
     

    co-author.  "The effect of spatio-temporal heterogeneity on the dynamics of plant populations." Ecological Society of America (ESA), Sacramento, CA. (Aug 14, 2014) With Aldo Compagnoni, presenter Andrew J Bibian, Bret D Elderd, Amy Iler, David W. Inouye, Hans Jacquemyn, Brad Ochocki, Haldre S Rogers, Emily L. Schultz, Michelle E Sneck

     
     

    co-author.  "The role of seed banks in the dynamics of vertically transmitted plant symbionts." Ecological Society of America (ESA), Sacramento, CA. (Aug 12, 2014) With Andrew J. Bibian, presenter Rande R. Patterson, Alan Shadow, Jennifer A. Rudgers

     
     

    "Defense by aggressive ants carries ecological costs that plants can afford." Evolutionary Demography Society, Odense, Denmark. (Oct 2013)

     
     

    University of New Mexico Sevilleta Field Station, May 2013

     
     

    Miller, TEX and Rudgers, JA. Non-linear interaction dynamics of grasses and vertically transmitted fungal symbionts. Ecological Society of America (ESA) 97th Annual Meeting. Aug 6-9, 2012. Portland, OR.

     
     

    ETH Zurich (Institute for Integrative Biology)

     
     

    Louisiana State University (Department of Biology)

     
     

     Mathematical Biosciences Institute Workshop (Ohio State University), Ecology and Control of Invasive Species, February 2011

     
     

    Iowa State University (Dept. of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology), September 2011

     
     

    Sex, density dependence and the spread of invasive organisms.  Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Austin, Texas, August 2011

     
     

    Texas A&M University (Dept. of Entomology), September 2010

     
     

    Portland State University (Dept. of Biology), January 2010

     
     

    University of Florida (Depts. of Biology and Entomology), October 2010

     
    Editorial Positions
     Other, See list in comments. (2009 - 2009)

     Member of the Editorial Board, Ecology. Ecological Society of America. (2013 - 2015)

    Supervised Theses & Dissertations
     Juli Carrillo, PhD Biotic controls of the ecology and evolution of plant growth and defense. (2013) (Thesis Committee Member)

     Christopher Dibble, PhD Intraspecific Variation in Metacommunities: Linking regional variation with local ecoevolutionary dynamics. (2014) (Thesis Committee Member)

     Ben Van Allen, PhD Carry-over effects of natal habitat quality influence competitive dynamics in a two species system. (2014) (Thesis Committee Member)

     Michelle Sneck, PhD Evolutionary responses to global change: an experimental test of the effect of altered precipitation on hybridization rates in sunflower (Helianthus). (2014) (Thesis Director)

     Patrick Clay, PhD TBD. (2018) (Thesis Committee Member)

     Emily Schultz, Ph.D. TBD. (2018) (Thesis Director)

     Marion Donald, PhD TBD. (2021) (Thesis Director)

     Brad Ochocki, PhD Forcasting Population Spread. (Thesis Director)

     Andrew Bibian, MS Population dynamics of heritable symbionts when accounting for the life history complexity of their host. (Thesis Director)

     Michelle Downey, PhD Understanding how gene flow changes adaptive potential: a laboratory study of Bruchid beetles. (Thesis Director)

     Anny Chung, Graduate Thesis Committee, U New Mexico. (Thesis Committee Member)

     Shannon Carter, PhD TBD. (Thesis Committee Member)

     Sontee Dastidar, Graduate Thesis Committee, U Houston. (Thesis Committee Member)

     Andrea Drager, PhD TBD. (Thesis Committee Member)

     Brad Ochocki, PhD Forcasting Population Spread. (Thesis Director)

     Dayne Jordan, Graduate Thesis Committee, U Houston. (Thesis Committee Member)

     Ben Van Allen, PhD Carry-over effects of natal habitat quality influence competitive dynamics in a two species system. (Thesis Committee Member)

     Brian Maitner, PhD Competition and phylogeny: An inordinate fondness for beetles. (Thesis Committee Member)

     Michelle Sneck, PhD Does gene flow disrupt host-symbiont mutualism?. (Thesis Director)

     Sayantani Dastidar, PhD .. (Thesis Committee Member)

     Donald Rogers, Graduate Thesis Committee, STAT. (Thesis Committee Member)

     Nick Rasmussen, PhD Phenological shifts and species interactions: Disentangling the role of timing and synchrony. (Thesis Committee Member)

     Michelle Downey, MS Understanding how gene flow changes adaptive potential: a laboratory study of Bruchid beetles. (Thesis Director)

    Positions Held
     Vice Chairman, Plant Population Ecology section, Ecological Society of America (ESA) . (2009 - 2010)

     Member, Ecological Society of America (including membership in the Plant Population Ecology section). (2015 - 2015)

     Member, Sigma Xi. (2015 - 2015)

     Member, American Association for the Advancement of Science. (2015 - 2015)

     Member, American Society of Naturalists. (2015 - 2015)