Areas of Expertise
Research Interests: Marine Mammal Behavioral Ecology and Social Development.
Teaching Responsibilities: Animal Behavior.
Ph.D. (Biology: Behavioral Ecology) Georgetown University (2007)
B.S. (Biology: Zoology) University of Maryland, College Park (2001)
B.S. (Psychology) University of Maryland, College Park (2001)
My primary research interests are behavioral development, maternal care strategies, individual variation, and social complexity of marine mammals. My dissertation research was focused on the development of social patterns in wild bottlenose dolphin calves in Shark Bay, Western Australia. In particular, I examined when sex-specific socio-ecological strategies emerge, predictors of individual variation in sociality, and the possible function(s) of sociality from the calf’s perspective. My results indicated that calves form distinct social patterns while still dependent on their mothers. Although calf patterns of association do not yet match those of the sexually segregated adult society, early social patterns of male and female calves do differ. The observed sex-specific patterns foreshadow strategies that are likely to be successful for males (alliance formation) and females (integration in to maternal social network) in the future. By examining in detail the early social experiences of calves, this study offers comparative insight in to the challenges of developing within a complex social environment. In addition, because reproductive success (i.e. calf survival) may be linked to social factors, the disruption of the natural social system may result in reduced fitness. Thus, the identification of factors that affect the social patterns of the most vulnerable members of the population (i.e. calves) may therefore lead to better management practices.
As Director of Research for Pacific Whale Foundation (2007-2009) I led a research program primarily focused on answering management based questions. Our long-term investigations of southern hemisphere humpback whale population dynamics, site fidelity, and migratory pathways provided critical data to government management agencies as well as the International Whaling Commission. In addition, I incorporated my interest in maternal care strategies and reproductive dynamics into our work by examining calving intervals and rates as well as the association patterns of mother-calf pairs. This avenue of research has been largely neglected in humpback whales and maintains a clear conservation focus because reproductive dynamics drive population recovery.
Here at UNF, I am working with Dr. Julie Richmond to develop an interdisciplinary marine mammal research program that ties physiology and behavioral ecology together, with an emphasis on mothers and calves. We are conducting weekly boat-based photo-identification and behavioral surveys of bottlenose dolphins in the Jacksonville area. Since March 2011, we have identified over 300 individual dolphins in the St. John's River. As we approach one full year of data collection, we are beginning to determine which individuals are year-round residents, seasonal residents, or just passing through (transients). Our research program also incorporates management minded efforts to determine population abundance, distribution, and reproductive rates while also identifying potential threats to the population.
University Fellowship, Georgetown University, 2001-2007
Most Innovative Research Award, Georgetown University Graduate Research Symposium, 2002
President's Scholarship, University of Maryland at College Park, 1997-2001
College Park Scholar - Life Sciences, University of Maryland at College Park, 1997-2001
Northeast Florida Dolphin Research Consortium
Dolphins of Shark Bay Research Foundation
Grants and Contracts Awarded
Rotary Club of San Marco Charitable Grant - 2012
UNF Environmental Center Seed Grant - 2011
Elizabeth Ordway Dunn Foundation Grant - 2011
Georgetown University Dissertation Research Grant - 2003
Georgetown University Dissertation Travel Grant - 2003
American Society of Mammalogists Student Research Grant - 2003
Animal Behavior Society Student Research Grant - 2002
Publications & Presentations
Gibson, Q.A., Howells, E.M., Lambert, J.D., Mazzoil, M.M. & Richmond, J.P. (In Press). The ranging patterns of female bottlenose dolphins with respect to reproductive status: Testing the concept of nursery areas. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2013.03.020.
Stanton, M.A., Gibson, Q.A. & Mann, J. 2011. When mum’s away: A study of mother and calf ego networks during separations in wild bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.). Animal Behaviour 82(2): 405-412.
Gibson, Q.A. & Mann, J. 2009. Do sampling method and sample size affect basic measures of dolphin sociality? Marine Mammal Science 25(1): 187-198.
Mann, J., Sargeant, B.L., Gibson, Q.A., Heithaus, M.R., Connor, R.C. & Patterson, E. 2008. Why do dolphins carry sponges? PLoS ONE 3(12): e3868. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003868.
Gibson, Q.A. & Mann, J. 2008. Early social development in wild bottlenose dolphins: sex differences, individual variation and maternal influence. Animal Behaviour 76(2): 375-387.
Gibson, Q.A. & Mann, J. 2008. The size, composition, and function of wild bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops sp.) mother-calf groups in Shark Bay, Australia. Animal Behaviour 76(2): 389-405.
Gibson, Q.A. 2006. Non-lethal shark attack on a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops sp.) calf. Marine Mammal Science 22(1): 192-198.