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Quincy A Gibson

Associate Professor | Coastal Behavioral Ecologist

Biology | College of Arts & Sciences

Areas of Expertise

Research Interests: Marine Mammal Behavioral Ecology, Social Complexity and Social Development.


Teaching Responsibilities: Animal Behavior (ZOO 4513/ZOO 5514), Animal Behavior Lab (ZOO 4513L), Biology of Marine Mammals (ZOO 4485/ZOO 5487), General Biology III (BSC 2012C), Principles of Biology (BSC 1005C), Dolphin Behavioral Ecology Field Course (ZOO 4551C)


Ph.D. (Biology: Behavioral Ecology) Georgetown University (2007)

B.S. (Biology: Zoology; double major: 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, my team conducts weekly boat-based photo-identification and behavioral surveys of estuarine bottlenose dolphins in the Jacksonville area. Since March 2011, we have identified over 500 individual dolphins in the St. Johns River, approximately half of which are year-round residents.  We are currently investigating the social structure of this dolphin community, with an emphasis on the complexity of male mating strategies. Our research program also incorporates management minded efforts to determine population abundance, distribution, and reproductive rates while also identifying potential threats to the population.


UNF Academic Affairs Faculty Development Teaching Grant, 2014

University Fellowship, Georgetown University, 2001-2007


Northeast Florida Dolphin Research Consortium

Dolphins of Shark Bay Research Foundation

Animal Behavior Society

Society for Marine Mammalogy

Grants and Contracts Awarded

UNF Environmental Center Seed Grant - 2016

UNF COAS Research Enhancement Plan - 2015

 UNF Academic Affairs Faculty Development Scholarship Grant - 2014

Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Research Contract - 2014-2016

UNF COAS Dean's Leadership Council's Faculty Fellowship - 2013

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

Mazzoil, M., Gibson, Q., Durden, W.N., Borkowski, R., Biedenbach, G., McKenna, Z., Gordon, N., Brightwell, K., Denny, D., Howells, E., Jakush, J., Moreland, L., Perna, A., and Caldwell, M. In Press. Spatiotemporal Movements of Common Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus truncatus) in Northeast Florida, U.S. Aquatic Mammals.


Brown, A., Foss, A., Miller, M., & Gibson, Q. 2018. Detection of cyanotoxins (microcystins/nodularins) in livers from estuarine and coastal bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from Northeast Florida. Harmful Algae 76: 22-34. DOI: 10.1016/j.hal.2018.04.011.


Nekolny, S., Denny, M., Biedenbach, G., Howells, E., Mazzoil, M., Durden, W.N., Moreland, L., Lambert, J.D., & Gibson, Q. 2017. Effects of study area size on home range estimates of common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Current Zoology 63(6): 693-701. DOI: 10.1093/cz/zox049.


Ermak, J., Brightwell, K. & Gibson, Q. 2017. Multi-level dolphin alliances in northeastern Florida offer comparative insight into pressures shaping alliance formation. Journal of Mammalogy 98(4): 1096-1104. DOI: 10.1093/jmammal/gyx053.


Gibson, Q.A., Howells, E.M., Lambert, J.D., Mazzoil, M.M. & Richmond, J.P. 2013. 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 445: 53-60. 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.

Contact Information

Building 59, Room 3304

(904) 620-5938