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Department of Invertebrate Zoology

Eknomiaster beccae

Eknomiaster beccae Mah, 2007-2008. Photo by Chris Mah

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Christopher L. MahResearch Collaborator

  • Phone: 202-633-1768
  • Fax: 202-633-0182
  • E-mail:

  • Mailing Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    PO Box 37012, MRC 163
    Washington, DC 20013-7012

  • Courier Delivery Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    National Museum of Natural History
    10th and Constitution Ave, NW
    Washington, DC 20560-0163

    Responsibilities: Two year NSF Office of Polar Programs appointment

    to study brooding and phylogeny (using morphological and molecular data) in Antarctic Forcipulatacea, October 2006 to 2008. 
    Other responsibilities include curation/identification of specimens for the NMNH Asteroidea (Echinodermata) collection.

    Editor of the World Asteroidea Database

    Education: B.S. (1993), Humboldt State University; M.S. (1998), San Francisco State University; Ph.D. (2005), University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

    Research Interests:

  • Application of phylogenetic methods and theory within a tectonic/paleoceanographic/ geological context to problems in evolutionary biology, particularly ecology, biogeography, and biodiversity.
  • Phylogenetics of Asteroidea and analysis of the relationships as they pertain to behavior, reproduction and feeding ecology. Current emphasis on the order Forcipulatida (including the Asteriidae and Zoroasteridae) and the Goniasteridae (Order Valvatida).

Alpha taxonomy, biodiversity, and systematics of world-wide Asteroidea. Current emphasis on deep-water and tropical species from the South and Central Pacific, Hawai'i, and off the coast of California.

  • Paleontology, evolution, and macroevolution of post-Paleozoic Asteroidea.  Current emphasis on heterochrony and ontogeny in post-Paleozoic taxa and Cenozoic goniasterid faunas in the tropical Atlantic, including the origin of the Atlantic goniasterid fauna.

Biology, ecology, feeding behavior and functional morphology of asteroids, especially those in deep-sea habitats.

  • Selected Publications:
  • Mah, C.L. 2007-2008. Systematics, Phylogeny, and Historical Biogeography of the Pentagonaster clade (Goniasteridae, Valvatida, Asteroidea). Invertebrate Systematics Accepted for publication.

    Mah, C.L. 2007. Asteroidea, in: J. T. Carlton, Editor, The Light & Smith Manual: Intertidal Invertebrates from the Central California to the Oregon coasts.  Fourth Edition. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles.

    Mah, C.L. 2007. Phylogeny of the Zoroasteridae (Zorocallina; Forcipulatida): Evolutionary Events in Deep-Sea Asteroidea displaying Paleozoic Features.  Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 150: 177-210.

    Mah, C.L. 2006. Phylogenetic analysis and biogeography of the deep-sea goniasterid, Circeaster (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) including descriptions of six new species. Zoosystema. 28(4): 917-954.

    Mah, C.L. 2006 A new species of Xyloplax from the Northeast Pacific: comparative morphology and a reassessment of phylogeny. Invertebrate Biology 125 (2): 136-153

    Mah, C.L. 2005. A phylogeny of Iconaster and Glyphodiscus (Goniasteridae; Valvatida; Asteroidea) with descriptions of four new species. Zoosystema 27(1): 131-167.

    Villier, Loïc, K.M. Kutscher, Mah, C.L. 2004. Systematics and paleontology of middle Toarcian Asteroidea (Echinodermata) from the 'Seuil du Poitou', Western France. Geobios 37(6):  807-825.

    Mah, C. L. 2003. Astrosarkus idipi, a new Indo-Pacific genus and species of Oreasteridae (Valvatida; Asteroidea) displaying extreme skeletal reduction. Bulletin of Marine Science   73(3): 685-698

    Clark, A.M. and Mah, C.  2001. An index of names of recent Asteroidea - Part 4:  Forcipulatida and Brisingida in Echinoderm Studies. 6:  229-347.

    Mah, C. 2000.  Preliminary phylogeny of the forcipulatacean Asteroidea.  American Zoologist  40(3):  375-381

    Full Publication List

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