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Coddington, Jonathan

Former Lead: Global Genome Initiative, Senior Research Entomologist and Curator of Arachnida and Myriapoda

Systematics and behavior of spiders; species richness estimation; theory and design of biological inventories; global biodiversity genomics

Background And Education

Education And Training

Professional Biography

  • I am currently the Director of the Global Genome Initiative  and Senior Scientist in the Department of Entomology. The Global Genome  Initiative (GGI) —organized by the Smithsonian Institution as part of its  Institute for Biodiversity Genomics— seeks to “preserve and understand the  genomic diversity of life.” With partners and collaborators, it aims to sample  key branches of the Tree of Life phylogenetically and synoptically via a global  network of biorepositories and research organizations. Specifics goals are to  preserve sample of all families and 50% of described genera; to make these  collections available for research, with appropriate access and benefit sharing  (ABS); to increase computational support and technological capacity to sequence  genomes; and to train the next generation of genomics researchers in  biodiversity science.

    From 2009 to 2014 I was the Associate Director for Science,  NMNH. Responsibilities included overall leadership and administration of NMNH research  and collections activities, including seven scientific departments comprising over 300 employees, a standing population of approximately 400 Ph.D.s, the Laboratory of Analytical Biology,  the Collections Program  (care, registration, digitization), Academic Services to interns, graduate students, fellows, research associates and collaborators, emeritus scientists, etc., high-level liaison and hosting  of resident Federal  Agencies (USDA, Commerce, Interior, Defense) and strategic initiatives (Encyclopedia of Life (EOL),  Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL), Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS),  and field stations  (Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce and Carrie Bow Cay, Belize).  Other areas of responsibility included support and curatorial partnerships with Exhibits, Education, and other outreach  programs and the Office  of Advancement, especially for NMNH strategic initiatives; and support and liaison for Operations and Informatics.

Awards And Honors

Research And Grants

Research Overview

  • My research spans four broad topics: the systematics and evolution of spiders, especially orbweavers; issues in systematic theory and method;  the theory and design of biological inventories; and,  most recently, biodiversity genomics. Research on spider systematics has been directed at producing and synthesizing a first estimate of the higher phylogeny of spiders (e.g. "families"), especially orb-weaving spiders and their relatives. The resulting cladograms have been applied to empirical and theoretical studies of adaptation, behavior, evolution of web architecture, silk glands and spinneret spigot morphology, male genitalia, sexual size dimorphism, and patterns of species richness in spiders. I am interested in how adaptational hypotheses are developed and tested, as well as criteria for cladistic support. As a museum scientist, it also seems  appropriate to focus on design and evaluation of rapid, efficient, quantitative  sampling protocols to better understand the structure and distribution of  biodiversity. Finally, the rapidly developing field of genomics will transform  biodiversity science and, museum science, from the field to the laboratory.


Selected Publications