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Susan Weller

Susan WellerPreferred Campus Mail Address:

100F Ecology Building
1987 Upper Buford Circle
St. Paul, MN 55108



University of Minnesota
219 Hodson Hall, 1980 Folwell Ave
St. Paul, MN 55108
phone: (612) 625-6253
fax: (612) 625-5299

Education:Ph.D. - University of Texas, Austin, TX, 1989.
BA - Grinnell College, with Honors in Biology, 1982.

Research Interests:

As a phylogenetic systematist, I reconstruct evolutionary relationships (phylogenies) using modern techniques of cladistic analysis. Using cladograms, I investigate the evolutionary patterns of morphological structures and behaviors (e.g., courtship behavior), and relate these patterns to more general biological problems. I also use phylogenetic trees to investigate evolutionary patterns of molecules.

My current systematic research centers on higher Lepidoptera - cutworm moths and their relatives (Noctuoidea), tigermoths (Arctiidae), and butterflies. My research bridges both traditional morphological studies and newer, molecular approaches to phylogeny construction. My research focuses on insects of either ecological or economic importance.

Curatorial Interests:

Curator of Lepidoptera, Bell Museum of Natural History

I have curatorial and acquisition responsibilities of Lepidoptera in the Department of Entomology's Insect Museum. My current focus here is on tiger moths (Arctiidae), Noctuoidae and other Macrolepidoptera.


Insect Biology (ENT 3005).
Insect Morphology (ENT 5011)
Principles of Systematics (ENT 5781)
Undergraduate independent study (ENT 5910). Molecular & morphological investigations of lepidopteran evolutionary relationships.

Recent Publications:

Cho, S., Zwick, A., Regier, J., Mitter, C., Cummings, M., Yao, J., Du Z., Zhao H., Kawahara, A., Weller, S., Davis, D., Baixeras, J., Brown, J., and C. Parr. 2011. Deliberately Unequal Gene Sampling: Boon or Bane for Phylogenetics of Lepidoptera (Hexapoda)? Systematic Biology 60: 782-796. Doi10.1093/sysbio/syr079..

Roe, A.D., Miller, D.R., and Weller, S.J. 2011.Complexity in the Dioryctria zimmermani species group: incongruence between species limits and molecular diversity. Annals of Entomological Society. (Submission March 2011) In press

Zaspel, J.M., Weller, S.J., & Branham, M.A. 2011. A comparative survey of proboscis morphology and associated structures in fruit-piercing, tear-feeding and blood-sucking moths in the subfamily Calpinae (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Zoomorphology 130 (3): 203-225.

Hill, S.R., Zaspel, J.A., Weller, S.J, Hansson, W.S. and Ignell, R.L. 2010. To be or not to be… a vampire: a matter of sensillum numbers in Calyptra thalictri? Arthropod Structure and development 39 (5): 322-333. doi:10.1016/j.asd.2010.05.005.

Regier, J., Zwick, A., Cummings, M., Kawahara, A., Cho, S., Weller, S., Roe, A., Baixeras, J., Brown, J., Parr, C., Davis, D., Epstein, M. Hallwachs, W., Hausmann A., Janzen, D., Kitching, I., Solis, A., Yen, S-H, Bazinet, A., and C. Mitter. 2009.  “Toward reconstructing the evolution of advanced moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera: Ditrysia): an initial molecular study.” BMC Evolutionary Biology 2009, 9: 280. “Highly accessed” designation.

Roe, A., S.J. Weller, and AToL Leptree as co-authors. 2009. Genetics and Molecular Biology of Lepidoptera: Chapter 1. Phylogenetic Framework for Lepidoptera Model Systems. In: Molecular Biology and Genetics of Lepidoptera. Pp. 1- 33. Editors: Marian R. Goldsmith and Frantisek Marec. Book chapter.

Weller, S.J., M. DaCosta, R. Simmons, K. de la Cruz, and M. Whiting. 2008. Chapter 3. Phylogeny of the Arctiidae. Pp. 62 – 97. In: The biology of tigermoths (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae) (W. Conner, eds). Cornell University Press. Book chapter

Zaspel, J. and S. Weller. 2006. Review of the generic limits of the tiger moth genera Virbia and Holomelina (Arctiidae: Arctiinae: Arctiini). Zootaxa 1159: 1-68. 2006. Simmons, R. B. and S. J. Weller Review of the Sphecosoma genus group using adult
morphology (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae). Thomas Say Monograph Series, 101 pp., 108 figs. Note: was to be published in 2005, but Series did not have enough funding until 2006.

DaCosta, Larson, P.*, M., Donahue, J. and S. Weller. 2006. Phylogeny of Milkweed Tussocks (Arctiidae: Arctiinae: Phaegopterini) and Its Implications for Evolution of Ultrasound Communication. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 99: 723-742.

DaCosta, M.A., and S.J. Weller. 2005. Phylogeny and classification of Callimorphini (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae: Arctiinae). Zootaxa 1025:1-94.

Conner, W.E., and S.J. Weller. 2004. Chapter 7. A quest for alkaloids: the curious relationship of tiger moths and plants containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids, p. 248-282, In R. T. Cardé and J. G. Millar, eds. Advances in Insect Chemical Ecology. Cambridge University Press.

Weller, S.J., R. Simmons, and A. Carlson. 2004. Empyreuma pugione (Linneaus) and E. affinis Rothschild (Arctiidae: Ctenuchini) – geographic variation or valid species? Evidence from morphology and mitochondrial DNA. Lepidopterists’ Society 58:21-32.

Jacobson, N.L., and S.J. Weller. 2002. A cladistic study of the tiger moth family Arctiidae (Noctuoidea) based on larval and adult morphology. Thomas Say Monograph Series, Ent. Soc. America.

Simmons, R.B., and S.J. Weller. 2002. Do Müllerian Mimics Exist In Nature? A Phylogenetic Test In Tiger Moths (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae: Euchromiini). Proceedings of the Royal Society of London - Series B: Biological Sciences 269:983-990.

Simmons, R.B., and S.J. Weller. 2002. What kind of signals do mimetic tiger moths send? A phylogenetic test of wasp mimicry systems (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae: Euchromiini). Proceedings of the Royal Society of London - Series B: Biological Sciences 269:983-990.

Weller, S.J. 2002. Firefly magic. Conservation Volunteer (July-August issue).

Weller, S.J. 2002. Minnesota Night Life. Conservation Volunteer (May-June issue).

Simmons, R.B., and S.J. Weller. 2001. Utility and evolution of cytochrome b in insects. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution 20:196-210.

Weller, S.J., R.B. Simmons, R. Boada, and W.E. Conner. 2000. Abdominal modifications occurring in wasp mimics of the Ctenuchine-Euchromiine clade (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 93:920-928.

Weller, S.J., N.L. Jacobson, and W.E. Conner. 1999. The evolution of chemical defences and mating systems in tiger moths (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 68:557-578.

Weller, S.J., G.D. Baldridge, U.G. Munderloh, H. Noda, J. Simser, and T.J. Kurtti. 1998. Phylogenetic placement of rickettsiae from the ticks Amblyomma americanum and Ixodes scapularis. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 36:1305-1317.

Zink, R.M., S.J. Weller, and R.C. Blackwell. 1998. Molecular phylogenetics of the avian genus Pipilo and a biogeographic argument for taxonomic uncertainty. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution 10:191-201.

Weller, S.J., D.P. Pashley, and J.A. Martin. 1996. Reassessment of butterfly family relationships using independent genes and morphological evidence. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 89:184-192.

Weller, S.J., and D.P. Pashley. 1995. In search of butterfly origins. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution 4:235-246.

Lane, C.P., and S.J. Weller. 1994. Chapter 1. A Review of Lycaeides Hübner and Karner Blue Butterfly Taxonomy, p. 5-22, In D. Andow, et al., eds. Karner Blue Butterfly: Symbol of a Vanishing Landscape. Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, Miscellaneous publication 84-1994.

Weller, S.J., D.P. Pashley, J.A. Martin, and J.L. Constable. 1994. Phylogeny of noctuoid moths and the utility of combining independent nuclear and mitochondrial genes. Systematic Biology 43:194-211.

Weller, S.J., J.A. Friedlander, J.A. Martin, and D.P. Pashley. 1992. Phylogenetic studies of ribosomal RNA variation in higher moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera: Ditrysia). Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution 1:312-337.

Weller, S.J. 1992. Survey of adult morphology in Nystaleinae and related Neotropical subfamilies. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 31:233-277.

Weller, S.J. 1991. Revision of Pentobesa xylinoides (Walker) species group (Lepidoptera: Notodontidae). Proceedings of the Washington Entomological Society 93:795-807.

Zink, R.M., and S.J. Weller. 1991. Book review: Molecular Systematics. Auk 108:452-455.

Recent Presentations:
Weller, S.J., M. DaCosta, R.B. Simmons, J. M. Zaspel, P.G. Larson, M. Whiting, C. Garza. 2004. National ESA, Salt Lake City. Symposium: Rhopalocera Erotica. “Evolution of courtship and defense behaviors in tiger moths (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae) based on morphology and molecules.”

Weller, S.J. 2004. Dept. seminar, Brigham Young University. “Evolution of Courtship and Defense behaviors in tiger moths (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae)”

Weller, S.J. 2003. Dept. Seminar, Univ. of Maryland. “Evolution of Courtship and Defense behaviors in tiger moths (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae)”

Weller, S.J., R.B. Simmons. 2000. XXI International Congress of Entomology, Brazil. Symposium: Molecular and Morphological. “The Interplay of Morphological and Molecular Phylogenetic Studies in the Noctuoidea (Lepidoptera).”

Weller, S.J., N.L. Jacobsen. 2000. XXI International Congress of Entomology, Brazil. Symposium: Lepidopteran phylogeny. “Phylogeny of Arctiidae (Lepidoptera: Noctuoidea) Based On Immature Stages And Adult Morphology.”

Weller, S.J., R.B. Simmons, K. Williams. 2000. North Central Branch, Entomology Society. “Museum exhibits: from initial vision to practical implementation”

Weller, S.J.. N.L. Jacobsen, W.E. Conner. 1999. National ESA, Atlanta. Symposium: Intersection of Phylogeny, Behavior and Morphology. S.J. Weller, N.L. Jacobsen, and W.E.Conner. “Phylogeny of Arctiidae and the evolution of courtship and defense behaviors.”

Weller, S.J. 1998. Dept. of Horticulture. Univ. of Minnesota. “Butterfly origins and Butterfly Gardening. February.”

Weller, S.J., 1997. Modern Systematics. National Meeting, Lepidopterists' Society

Weller, S. J., N. L. Jacobson, and R. B. Simmons. 1996. Phylogeny of Arctiidae: Morphological and molecular evidence. Symposium talk, Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting, Louisville, KY.

Weller, S.J. 1996. The origin and evolution of butterflies. University of Edinburgh, Dept. of Zoology.

Weller, S.J. 1996. The origin and evolution of butterflies. University of Glascow, Div. of Biology.

Weller, S.J. 1996. The evolution of molecules and morphology in moths and butterflies. The Natural History Museum, London.