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Lucy Gilbert

Staff picture: Lucy Gilbert
Ecological Sciences
Ecological Sciences
Ecological Epidemiologist
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK


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:

  1. 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).
  2. Caroline Millins – Epidemiology and genetics of Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme borreliosis, in Scotland (BBSRC funded studentship with University of Glasgow).
  3. Zdenka Babikova - Multi-trophic interactions: mycorrhiza, plants, aphids, parasitoids (NERC CASE studentship with University of Aberdeen and Rothamsted Research)

Previous PhD students:

  1. Adam Seward (2012)- Effects of climate change via food availability on a migratory passerine bird (NERC CASE studentship with Cardiff University)
  2. 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)
  3. Marianne James (2010) – The ecology, genetic diversity and epidemiology of Lyme Borreliosis in Scotland (BBSRC CASE funded studentship with University of Aberdeen)
  4. 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)
  5. 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)
  6. Alison Rutstein (2003) – Reproductive investment in the zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata (NERC funded studentship with University of St Andrews)

Past research

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.


  • Rutstein, A.N.; Gilbert, L.; Slater, P.J.B.; Graves, J.A., (2005) Sex-specific patterns of yolk androgen allocation depend on maternal diet in the zebra finch., Behavioral Ecology, 16, 62-69.
  • Gilbert, L.; Rutstein, A.N.; Hazon, N.; Graves, J.A., (2005) Sex-biased investment in yolk androgens depends on female quality and laying order in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata)., Naturwissenschaften, 92, 178-181.
  • Rutstein, A.N.; Gorman, H.E.; Arnold, K.A.; Gilbert, L.; Orr, K.J.; Adam, A.; Nager, R.G.; Graves, J.A., (2005) Sex allocation in response to paternal attractiveness in the zebra finch., Behavioural Ecology, 16, 763-769.
  • Rutstein, A.N.; Gilbert, L.; Slater, P.J.B.; Graves, J.A., (2004) Mate attractiveness and primary resource allocation in the zebra finch., Animal Behaviour, 68, 1087-1094.
  • Johnson, D.; Vandenkoornhuyse, P.J.; Leake, J.R.; Gilbert, L.; Booth, R.E.; Grime, J.P.; Young, J.P.W.; Read D.J., (2004) Plant communities affect arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal diversity and community composition in grassland microcosms., New Phytologist, 161, 503-515.
  • Gilbert, L.; Jones, L.D.; Laurenson, M.K.; Gould, E.A.; Reid, H.W.; Hudson, P.J., (2004) Ticks need not bite their red grouse hosts to infect them with louping ill virus., Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B, 271(Suppl. 4), S202-S205.
  • Laurenson, M.K.; Norman, R.A.; Gilbert, L.; Reid, H.W.; Hudson, P.J., (2004) Mountain hares, red grouse and harvesting: complex interactions but few data., Journal of Animal Ecology, 73, 811-813.
  • Laurenson, M.K.; Norman, R.A.; Gilbert, L.; Reid, H.W.; Hudson, P.J., (2003) Identifying disease reservoirs in complex systems: mountain hares as reservoirs of ticks and louping-ill virus, pathogens of red grouse., Journal of Animal Ecology, 72. 177-185.
  • Gilbert, L.; Norman, R.; Laurenson, K.M.; Reid, H.W.; Hudson, P.J., (2001) Disease persistence and apparent competition in a three-host community: an empirical and analytical study of large-scale, wild populations., Journal of Animal Ecology, 70, 1053-1061.
  • Gilbert, L.; Jones, L.D.; Hudson, P.J.; Gould, E.A.; Reid, H.W., (2000) Role of small mammals in the persistence of Louping-ill virus: field survey and tick co-feeding studies., Medical and Veterinary Entomology, 14, 277-282.
  • Gilbert, L.; Burke, T.; Krupa, A., (1998) No evidence for extra-pair paternity in the western gull., Molecular Ecology, 7, 1549-1552.

Printed from /staff/lucy-gilbert on 15/08/18 11:53:05 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.