Lawrence E Gilbert
Director, Brackenridge Field Laboratory, College of Natural Sciences
Phone: +1 512 471 2825, +1 512 471 4705
Dr. Gilbert is studying the ecological and evolutionary interaction between mutualists, competitors, and exploiter/victim pairs which are bound together by their absolute dependence on vines of the genus Passiflora. The research in progress combines population studies of the major herbivores in the system (Heliconius butterflies) with parallel studies of the population ecology of the plants they exploit (Passiflora) and others with which they have cooperative interaction (cucurbits of the genus Psiguria). The research involves studies of wild populations in Costa Rica, Trinidad, and Venezuela, with controlled environment studies of the same species in my greenhouse-insectary system. Currently receiving attention is the population dynamics of Heliconius in Costa Rica; the reproductive physiology and behavior of experimental Heliconius populations; and the host partitioning in multi-species communities of Heliconius. Dr. Gilbert is also interested in the basic ecology of pest organisms which affect overall biological diversity either directly or indirectly through the broad-spectrum impact of chemical pest control. Several post-docs and graduate students under my direction are now working on the ecology of the imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, and its natural predators, Pseudacteon phorid flies, in Brackenridge Field Laboratory in Austin as well as in the field in Brazil and Argentina.