Dr Justin Gerlach


I have supervised Natural Sciences undergraduates in Cambridge since 1995. I studied Zoology at Wadham College, Oxford and completed my DPhil there in 1994.

Although most of my time is taken up with teaching I have also carried out research on a wide range of organisms. My research interests can be summed up as saving species and ecosystems, discovering 'new' species and understanding their evolution. This is ecology in the very broadest sense: a synthesis of ecology, evolution and conservation biology, or why organisms and ecosystems are the way they are, and how they may change in the future. Within this I have worked on many aspects of ecology (interactions, diets and population dynamics), behaviour, taxonomy, anatomy and embryology. This has mainly concentrated on islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Probably my favourite piece of research has been on Charles Darwin's beetle collection. My highest profile project has been work to save two species of giant tortoise from extinction, only surpassed by the discovery of a population of giant tortoises that hunt and eat sea-birds, something that really excited the world's media! Most of my spare time is taken up with saving the tree snails of Tahiti and nearby islands. Other species I have worked with have ranged from plants to bats, with most things in between, including tardigrades, insects, frogs and lizards. More detail can be found at http://islandbiodiversity.com/jg.htm. I am currently leading an initiative to identify the biodiversity across all Cambridge colleges and am developing several new projects around the world.


Key Information

Director of Studies in Natural Sciences (Biology)
College Phone:
2022 [2016] [2019]
Website: Dr Justin Gerlach