Paul Marek

Assistant Professor

  • Systematics

A central mission of our research is the exploration and description of biodiversity, especially Appalachian millipede species. Research in the lab focuses on two areas: (1) arthropod systematics and taxonomy and (2) the evolutionary ecology of aposematic coloration and mimicry. We use molecular systematics to provide an evolutionary context to address our research questions pertaining to the ecology of aposematism and coloration.

Studying the evolution of warning coloration helps us to understand animal adaptation and how evolution produces the diversity of life on the planet. Taxonomic research is  significant because it supports the description of Earth’s biological diversity. Although preserving species diversity is critical to the environment and society, we are losing species to extinction at a staggering rate. I teach undergraduate Insect Biology and graduate Insect Systematics.

More details about my research can be found at

  • Ph.D. in Biology, East Carolina University, NC 2008
  • M.A. in Systematic Biology and Ecology, San Francisco State University, CA 2002
  • B.S. in Biology, Loyola University of Chicago, IL 2000

Professional Memberships

  • Entomological Society of America
  • Virginia Natural History Society
  • Virginia Entomological Society
  • Centre International de Myriapodologie


  • Pat Shorter, Collections Manager, Virginia Tech Insect Collection


  • Jackson Means (Ph.D. Systematic Entomology and Biodiversity of Millipedes)
  • Derek Hennen (Ph.D.) Systematic Entomology and Biodiversity of Millipedes)
  • Victoria Wong (M.S. Biodiversity of Millipedes)

Yang, F., P.E. Marek, and S.L. Paulson. 2016. Cache Valley virus in Aedes japonicus
japonicus mosquitos in the Appalachian Region, in review.

Marek, P.E., J. Krejca, and W.A. Shear. 2016. A new species of Illacme Cook & Loomis,
1928 from Sequoia National Park, California, with a world catalog of the Siphonorhinidae (Diplopoda, Siphonophorida), ZooKeys, 626: 1-43.    [Open access]

Shear, W.A., R.L. Ferreira, L.F.M. Iniesta, P.E. Marek 2016. A millipede missing link: Dobrodesmidae, a remarkable new polydesmidan millipede family from Brazil with supernumerary rings (Diplopoda, Polydesmida), and the establishment of a new suborder Dobrodesmidea, Zootaxa, 4178: 371-390.

Dellinger, T., V. Wong**, and P.E. Marek. 2016. Makelabels: a Bash script for generating data matrix codes for collection management, Biodiversity Data Journal, 4: 1-9.    [Open access]

Garcia, A.J.**, S. Priya, and P.E. Marek. 2015. Understanding the locomotion and dynamic controls for millipedes: Part 1 – Kinematic analysis of millipede movements, Proceedings of the ASME 2015 Conference on Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures and Intelligent Systems, 1 – 10.

Meyer, W.M., J. Eble, K. Franklin, R.B. McManus**, S.L. Brantley, J. Henkle**, P.E. Marek, W.E. Hall, C.A. Olson, R. McInroy**, E.M. Bernal Loaiza**, R.C. Brusca, and W. Moore. 2015. Ground-Dwelling Arthropod Communities of a Sky Island Mountain Range in Southeastern Arizona, USA: Obtaining a Baseline for Assessing the Effects of Climate Change, PLoS ONE, 10(9): 1-18.    [Open access]

Means, J.C.**, E.A. Francis**, A.A. Lane**, and P.E. Marek. 2015. A general methodology for collecting and preserving xystodesmid and other large millipedes for biodiversity research, Biodiversity Data Journal, 3: 1 – 17.    [Open access]

Marek, P. E., and W. Moore. 2015. Discovery of a glowing millipede in California and the gradual evolution of bioluminescence in Diplopoda. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 112, 6419-6424.    [Open access]

Harris, M.C.**, E.J. Dotseth, B.T. Jackson, S.D. Zink, P.E. Marek, L.D. Kramer, S.L. Paulson, and D.M. Hawley. 2015. La Crosse virus in Aedes japonicus japonicus mosquitos in the Appalachian Region, Emerging Infectious Diseases, 21.    [Open access]

Marek, P.E., T. Tanabe, and S. Sierwald. 2014. A species catalog of the millipede family Xystodesmidae (Diplopoda: Polydesmida), Virginia Museum of Natural History Special Publications, 17: 1 – 117.    [Open access]

Kamali, M.**, A. Peery**, P.E. Marek, C. Antonio-Nkondjio, C. Ndo, Z. Tu, F. Simard, and I.V. Sharakhov. 2014. Temporal diversification of major African malaria vectors inferred from multigene phylogenetics, PLoS ONE 9(4): 1-9.    [Open access]

Marek, P.E., W.A. Shear, and J.E. Bond. 2012. A redescription of the leggiest animal, the millipede Illacme plenipes with notes on its natural history and biogeography (Diplopoda, Siphonophorida, Siphonorhinidae), ZooKeys, 241, 77–112.    [Open access]

Marek, P.E., D.R. Papaj, J. Yeager, S. Molina**, and W. Moore. 2011. Bioluminescent
aposematism in millipedes, Current Biology, 21, R680-R681.    [Open access] Video abstract online at Cell Press YouTube channel.

Marek, P.E. 2010. A revision of the Appalachian millipede genus Brachoria Chamberlin, 1939 (Polydesmida, Xystodesmidae, Apheloriini), Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 159, 817-889.

Shear, W.A. and P.E. Marek. 2009. Andrognathus hoffmani, n. sp., a second species in the genus and the first species of Andrognathidae from México (Diplopoda, Platydesmida, Andrognathidae). Festschrift in honor of Richard Hoffman, Memoirs of the Virginia Museum of Natural History, 16, 149-158.

Marek, P.E. and J.E. Bond. 2009. A Müllerian mimicry ring in Appalachian millipedes, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 106, 9755-9760.    [Open access]

Commentary by Merrill, R.M. and C.D. Jiggins. 2009. Müllerian mimicry: sharing the load reduces the legwork, Current Biology, 19, 687-689.    [Open access]

Walker, M.J.**, A.K. Stockman, P.E. Marek, and J.E. Bond. 2009. Pleistocene glacial refugia across the Appalachian Mountains and coastal plain in the millipede genus Narceus: Evidence from population genetic, phylogeographic, and paleoclimatic data, BMC Evolutionary Biology. 9, 25.    [Open access]

Marek, P.E. and J.E. Bond. 2007. A reassessment of apheloriine millipede phylogeny: additional taxa, Bayesian inference, and direct optimization. Zootaxa. 1610, 27-39.

Marek, P.E. and J.E. Bond. 2006. Phylogenetic systematics of the colorful, cyanide- producing millipedes of Appalachia (Polydesmida, Xystodesmidae, Apheloriini) using a total evidence Bayesian approach. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 41, 704-729.

Marek, P.E. and J.E. Bond. 2006. Biodiversity hotspots: Rediscovery of the world’s leggiest animal. Nature. 441, 707.

Marek, P.E. and D.H. Kavanaugh. 2005. The evolutionary relationships of North American Diplous Motschulsky (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Patrobini) inferred from morphological and molecular evidence. Invertebrate Systematics. 19, 145-168.

Marek, P.E., J.E. Bond, and P. Sierwald. 2003. Rhinocricidae Systematics II: A species catalog of the Rhinocricidae (Diplopoda: Spirobolida) with synonymies. Zootaxa. 308, 1- 108.    [Open access]

Bond, J.E. and P.E. Marek. 2003. Rhinocricidae Systematics I: The taxonomic placement of the species of Zipyge Chamberlin, 1925 and Oxypygides Chamberlin, 1922 (Diplopoda: Spirobolida: Rhinocricidae: Oxypyginae). Zootaxa. 292, 1-8.    [Open access]

** student co-authored publications

Non peer-reviewed publications

Marek, P.E. 2013. Xystodesmidae, in: Wikispecies, free species directory, online at

Marek, P.E. 2012. A clever experiment, in: Creatures of Light, American Museum of Natural History iPad app, online at light/id528261564?mt=8

Marek, P.E. 2012. Environment 4, in: Isopod: The Roly Poly Science Game, Xylem and Phloem LLC iPad app, online at poly-science-game/id545092307?mt=8

Marek, P.E. 2011. Motyxia, the Sierra luminous millipedes, in: Wikipedia, the free
encyclopedia, online at

Marek, P.E. 2010. Brachoria Chamberlin 1939. The Appalachian Mimic Millipedes. Version 16 September 2010. in The Tree of Life Web Project,