Lucy is an animal ecologist and leads research in the Ecological Sciences Group on a broad range of ecological areas, primarily focussing on the impacts of environmental changes on certain parameters of biodiversity, particularly ticks, tick-borne pathogens and birds. However, she also conducts research on how to control ticks and tick-borne diseases and has a keen interest in multi-trophic interactions as well as how environmental contexts influence reproductive investment and offspring fitness in birds. A number of research tools are used for this research, from large-scale stratified field surveys, large- and small-scale field experiments, laboratory-based microcosm experiments, and both mathematical (dynamic SIR), statistical and GIS modelling. As well as expertise in tick and tick-borne disease ecology, Lucy also has a background in evolutionary and behavioural ecology, specifically sexual selection and resource partitioning in birds, monitoring and surveys of seabirds and sea mammals, and seal population genetics.
Current research interests
Current research interests include (i) the impact of environmental changes (e.g. land use, wildlife management and climate change) and biodiversity on ticks and tick-borne disease risk to livestock, wildlife and humans; (ii) methods of controlling ticks and tick-borne diseases; (iii) the impact of woodland regeneration and peatland restoration on birds (iv) multi-trophic interactions and cascading effects and (v) context-dependent reproductive investment and fitness in birds.
Lucy is a member of the EU study group ESGBOR (Lyme Borreliosis) which is under the ESCMID (European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases) umbrella. She is a Partner in the Norwegian Research Council-funded “TICKLESS” project, led by Bioforsk in Norway, which is testing strategies to reduce ticks and tick-borne disease in livestock. She was also a Co-PI for the Scottish Government funded Centre of Excellence in Epidemiology of Infectious Disease Control (EPIC), and led a project on the effects of landscape heterogeneity and host movements on the persistence of the tick-borne louping ill virus.
Lucy collaborates with partners at the University of Zurich, University of Western Australia as well as Scottish Agricultural College, Moredun Research Institute, and the Universities of Glasgow, Aberdeen, Stirling, Salford and Cardiff.
Lucy is a Research Associate of the University of Aberdeen and contributes to the “Advanced Ecological Concepts” module of the Masters course and co-supervises Masters project and undergraduate honours project students from Aberdeen University.
Lucy co-supervises the following current PhD students:
- Adrian Worton – Predicting ticks and tick borne disease risk over Scotland under scenarios of environmental change. (James Hutton institute joint studentship programme with University of Stirling).
- Caroline Millins – Epidemiology and genetics of Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme borreliosis, in Scotland (BBSRC funded studentship with University of Glasgow).
- Zdenka Babikova - Multi-trophic interactions: mycorrhiza, plants, aphids, parasitoids (NERC CASE studentship with University of Aberdeen and Rothamsted Research)
Previous PhD students:
- Adam Seward (2012)- Effects of climate change via food availability on a migratory passerine bird (NERC CASE studentship with Cardiff University)
- Ros Porter (2011) – Mathematical models of a tick-borne disease in a British game bird with potential management strategies (NERC CASE funded studentship with Stirling University)
- Marianne James (2010) – The ecology, genetic diversity and epidemiology of Lyme Borreliosis in Scotland (BBSRC CASE funded studentship with University of Aberdeen)
- Emma Pariser (2009) – Wild at heart? Differential maternal investment in wild and domesticated zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). (NERC funded studentship with University of St Andrews)
- Kathryn Williamson (2005) – Mothers have favourites: egg composition, mate attractiveness and maternal effects in the zebra finch (NERC funded studentship with University of St Andrews)
- Alison Rutstein (2003) – Reproductive investment in the zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata (NERC funded studentship with University of St Andrews)
Lucy obtained her first degree in zoology at Oxford University and her PhD from Sheffield University in 1996, where she studied sperm competition in seabirds. Subsequently, Lucy spent time with the RSPB in South Uist on the hedgehog-wader project. She then conducted post-doctoral research on the ecological epidemiology of louping ill virus at Stirling University, followed by studying environment-determined maternal effects in birds at St Andrews University, before starting work in Aberdeen in 2006.
Lucy's highlighted publications
- A unified approach to model selection using the likelihood ratio test, Lewis, F.; Butler, A.; Gilbert, L., (2011) Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 2, 155-162.
Lucy's most recent publications
- Environmental determinants of Ixodes ricinus ticks and the incidence of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, the agent of Lyme borreliosis, in Scotland., James, M.C.; Bowman, A.S.; Forbes, K.J.; Lewis, F.; McLeod, J.E.; Gilbert, L., (In press) Parasitology.
- An alternative to killing? Treating wildlife to protect a valuable species from a shared parasite., Porter, R.; Norman, R.A.; Gilbert, L., (In press) Parasitology.
- An empirical model to test how ticks and louping ill virus can be controlled by treating red grouse with acaricide., Porter, R.; Norman, R.A.; Gilbert, L., (In press) Medical and Veterinary Entomology.
- The impact of increased food availability on survival in a long-de migratory bird., Seward, A.; Beale, C.; Gilbert, L.; Jones, H.; Thomas, R., (In press) Ecology.
- The effect of deer management on the abundance of Ixodes ricinus in Scotland., Gilbert, L.; Maffey, G.; Ramsay, S.L.; Hester, A.J., (2012) Ecological Applications, 22, 658-667.
- Male attractiveness regulates daughter fecundity non-genetically via maternal investment., Gilbert, L.; Williamson, K.A.; Graves, J.A., (2012) Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B. 279, 523-528.
- Mind the gap: the ration of yolk androgens and antioxidants varies between sons and daughters dependent on paternal attractiveness., Pariser, E.C.; Gilbert, L.; Hazon, N.; Arnold, K.E.; Graves, J.A., (2012) Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 66, 519-527.
- The importance of passerine birds as tick hosts and in the transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme disease: a case study from Scotland, James, M.C.; Furness, R.W..; Bowman, A.S.; Forbes, K.J.; Gilbert, L., (2011) Ibis, 153, 293-302.
- The effect of landscape heterogeneity and host movement on a tick-borne pathogen., Jones, E.; Webb, S.D.; Ruiz-Fons, J.F.; Albon, S.; Gilbert, L., (2011) Theoretical Ecology, 4, 435-448.
- Controlling tick borne diseases through domestic animal management: a theoretical approach., Porter, R.; Norman, R.A.; Gilbert, L., (2011) Theoretical Ecology, 4, 321-339.
- Altitudinal patterns of tick and host abundance: a potential role for climate change in regulating tick-borne diseases?, Gilbert, L., (2010) Oecologia, 162, 217-225.
- Culling wildlife hosts to control disease: mountain hares, red grouse and louping ill virus., Harrison, A.; Newey, S.J.; Gilbert, L.; Haydon, D.T.; Thirgood, S.J., (2010) Journal of Applied Ecology, 46, 926-930.
- Insufficient evidence for culling mountain hares for tick and louping-Ill virus (LIV) control., Newey, S.J.; Gilbert, L.; Harrison, A., (2010) Knowledge Scotland, Science Policy Connections Online. Research Briefing, Biodiversity
- The role of deer as vehicles to move ticks, Ixodes ricinus, between contrasting habitats., Ruiz-Fons, F.; Gilbert, L., (2010) International Journal for Parasitology, 40, 1013-1020.
- Within-year differences in reproductive investment in laboratory zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), an opportunistically breeding bird., Williamson, K.; Gilbert, L.; Rutstein, A.N.; Pariser, E.C.; Grave, J.A., (2008) Naturwissenschaften, 95, 1143 -1148.
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