Dr. Miles M. Coburn
Professor of Biology
Department of Biology
General Interests: Cypriniform fishes are among the most speciose, economically important, but taxonomically challenging groups of vertebrates. My research focused first on osteological syanpomorphies that could help to diagnose clades of North American cyprinids, and to indicate where these fishes fit within the family Cyprinidae. These efforts led to a more general inquiry into the ontogeny of characters or character complexes of phylogenetic interest. For the past decade I and a number of students have investigated the early ontogeny of the otophysan Weberian apparatus, a unique sensory device comprised in part of modifications to the anterior vertebral column, that defines an enormously successful clade of fishes, of which cypriniform fishes are part. Ultimately, the goal of this research is to link a detailed understanding of the morphogenesis of the anterior vertebrae to underlying patterns of gene expression. We have examined vertebral development in about 20 species of cyprinids, catostomids, siluriforms, characiforms, and gonorynchiforms, the last being the putative sister group to otophysans.
Taxa: Recent species; Families Cyprinidae and Catostomidae