Biology / Biomedical Sciences
School of Environmental Sciences / Life Sciences

Dr James Gilbert

Darren Evans

Lecturer in Zoology

School of Biological, Biomedical and Environmental Sciences

  • Research
  • Key Publications
  • Teaching
  • Brief CV
  • Engagement, communication and outreach


I am interested in the evolution of parental care and social behaviour – especially how these crucial animal interactions shape, and are shaped by, animals’ nutritional environments.  In the most spectacularly social or parental species (or groups of species), these behaviours are obligatory, which gives little insight into their evolution. Instead my work focuses on evolutionary origins – first using comparative analyses across groups of species that differ in whether they are social or parental; second, using field and lab experiments on species that are behaviourally plastic, i.e. where individuals can choose whether or not to be social or parental. Finally, I am interested in how these factors play out in the wild – and the unforeseen pressures exerted upon parental and social interactions by anthropogenic change.

Alex Austin (2015-2018).
Catherine Carrick (2014-2017). Co-supervised with Dr Lesley Morrell.

Key Publications

Santos ESA, Bueno PP, Gilbert JDJ, Machado G. 2016. Macroecology of parental care in arthropods: higher mortality risk leads to higher benefits of offspring protection in tropical climates. Biological Review; doi: 10.1111/brv.12303

Field J, Shreeves G, Kennedy M, Stimmler C, Gilbert JDJ, Brace S. 2015. Sex-biased parental care and sexual size dimorphism in a provisioning arthropod. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 69 (12): 1897-1906

Grinsted L, Bilde T, Gilbert JDJ. 2015. Questioning the evidence for group selection in social spiders. Nature 524(7566), E1-E3. (doi:10.1038/nature14595)

Gilbert JDJ, Manica A. 2015. Evolution of parental care in insects: a test of current hypotheses. Evolution 69(5):1255-1270. (doi:10.1111/evo.12656).

Gilbert JDJ. 2014. Thrips domiciles protect against desiccation in an arid environment. Behavioral Ecology 25(6):1338-1346.

Vahed K, Gilbert JDJ, Weissman D, Barrientos-Lozano L. 2014. Functional equivalence of grasping cerci and nuptial food gifts in promoting ejaculate transfer in katydids. Evolution 68(7): 2052–2065. (doi:10.1111/evo.12421).

Gilbert JDJ, Fagan WF. 2011. Contrasting mechanisms of proteomic nitrogen thrift in Prochlorococcus. Mol. Ecol., 20(1):92-104.

Gilbert JDJ, Manica A. 2010. Parental care trade-offs and life history relationships in insects.  Am. Nat., 176(2):212-226.

Gilbert JDJ, Thomas LK, Manica A. 2010. Quantifying the benefits and costs of parental care in assassin bugs.  Ecol. Entomol. 35(5):639-651.



Module number

Module name



58127 Skills for Biologists Tutor 4
58279 Behavioural Ecology Lecturer 5
58377 Topics in Biodiversity and Evolution Lecturer 6
58400 Reviews in Biology Supervisor 6
58327 Research projects Supervisor 6
58405 Concepts in Ecology Lecturer 6
Forthcoming in 2016/17 Insect Biology Module Coordinator 6


2015 - present Lecturer in Zoology
University of Hull, UK
2012 - 2015 Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellow;
University of Sussex, UK (visiting University of Sydney 2012-2014)
2011-2012 Postdoctoral Research Associate,
University of Sydney (2011-2012)
2010-2011: Associate Lecturer,
University of Derby, UK(part time)
2007-2009: Postdoctoral Research Associate,
University of Maryland, USA
2003 - 2007 PhD (Zoology),
University of Cambridge, UK
The evolution of parental care in insects.
Advisers: T. Clutton-Brock, A. Manica
1999 - 2002 BA (Zoology),
University of Cambridge, UK


Engagement, communication & outreach

Festivals and public events

University of Hull coordinator for Pint of Science 2016

University of Hull Science Festival 2016

Hull Freedom Festival 2015 – Science Corner

TEDx Talk

Gilbert JDJ. 2014. Crickets help us understand sex.

Reddit AMA

Gilbert JDJ. 2014. Science AMA Series: Hi! I'm James Gilbert, a post-doctoral fellow studying insect evolution and behaviour at the University of Sussex. Ask me anything about weird insect reproductive behaviour. Reddit (, 3 June. URL:

Popular science articles

Gilbert JDJ. 2015. This Father’s Day, be grateful your dad is a human. The Conversation (, June 20

Gilbert JDJ. 2015. Secrets of the orchid mantis revealed – it doesn’t mimic an orchid after all. The Conversation (, 27 January.

Gilbert JDJ. 2014. From monogamous termites to male-eating spiders, an insect ecologist explains. The Conversation (, 4 June.

Gilbert JDJ. 2014. Handcuffs, traps and spikes shed light on the sex lives of insects. The Conversation (, 27 May. Republished on,, and interviewed on Canada’s CBC Radio “Quirks and Quarks” program.

Gilbert JDJ. 2014. Invertebrates inject a bit of romance during sex – by stabbing each other. The Conversation (, 11 March. Republished on,,

Gilbert JDJ. 2014. Even among ants, size matters more than shape. The Conversation (, 13 Jan.

Radio and podcast interviews

Gilbert JDJ. 2014. Quirks and Quarks. CBC Radio, Canada.[interview about our 2014 paper on bushcricket sex]

Gilbert JDJ. 2012. Pokemon thrips and a night at the disease museum: Diffusion Science Radio. Sydney 2ser. URL: [interview about my fellowship work on nutrition and social behaviour in thrips]

Gilbert JDJ. 2011. Lactating insects and handy fish: Diffusion Science Radio. Sydney 2ser.  URL: [interview about our 2010 paper on assassin bug parental care]

Gilbert JDJ. 2011. Cricket Balls and Climate Fix Flicks: Diffusion Science Radio. Sydney 2ser. URL: [interview about our 2010 paper on bushcricket testes]

Gilbert JDJ. 2011. Radio New Zealand Nights. Radio New Zealand, [interview about our 2010 paper on bushcricket testes]

External links:


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