Research Interests

My PhD research focuses on deforestation and forest fragmentation and their impacts on tropical biodiversity. Tropical forests hold up to 50% of the species found on earth, and are being rapidly replaced by fields of rice or soybeans and plantations of rubber or palm oil. In one study, I synthesized over 100 studies around the world to examine the impact of various forms of human disturbance on biodiversity. A key finding was that selectively logged forests sustained relatively high levels of biodiversity, whereas secondary forests were depleted of biodiversity (Gibson et al. Nature 2011). As deforestation spreads across the tropics, forests increasingly persist as small patches surrounded by inhospitable human-dominated landscapes. These fragments will be depleted of biodiversity over a certain relaxation period until equilibrium is reached. A key question I have examined is how rapidly species disappear from forest fragments. I resurveyed forest islands in Chiew Larn Reservoir in southern Thailand to measure the rate of species loss, and observed the near-complete extinction of native small mammals from fragments 56 hectares or smaller within 25 years. The presence of an invasive rat species probably accelerated species loss, and the presence of similar invasive species in human-modified landscapes suggests that forest fragments may be even more vulnerable to biodiversity loss than previously thought (Gibson et al. Science 2013). Combined, my findings suggest that - if we want to preserve the world's greatest bastion of biodiversity - we must reduce deforestation and fragmentation in intact forest expanses and rapidly restore forest connectivity in highly fragmented regions.

Education

National University of Singapore
PhD, Biological Sciences, 2010-2014

University of California, San Diego
MS, Biological Sciences, 2007-2010

Princeton University
BA, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2001-2005

Awards

President's Graduate Fellowship, NUS, 2013
Best Graduate Research Award, NUS Department of Biological Sciences, 2012
Top Graduate Researcher Award, NUS Faculty of Science, 2012
Singapore International Graduate Award (SINGA), 2010-2014
NSF East Asia & Pacific Summer Institutes (EAPSI), 2009
UC San Diego Jeanne Marie Messier Memorial Fund, 2009

Research Experience

Wildlife Technician, Institute for Wildlife Studies
San Clemente Island, California, February-July 2007
Field Assistant, Stony Brook University
Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand, June 2005-July 2006

Work Experience

Conservation Crew Leader, Student Conservation Association
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska, July-August 2008
Conservation Crew Leader, Student Conservation Association
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan, July-August 2007
Wilderness Ranger, US Forest Service
Eldorado National Forest, California, May-September 2005
Wilderness Ranger, US Forest Service
Eldorado National Forest, California, May-September 2004

Publications

Gibson L., Lynam A.J., Bradshaw C.J.A., He F., Bickford D.P., Woodruff D.S., Bumrungsri S. & Laurance W.F . 2013. Near-complete extinction of native small mammal fauna 25 years after forest fragmentation. Science 341:1508-1510. URL | Science NOW | NY Times | BBC | NBC News | The Conversation | ConservationBytes | mongabay

Koh L.P., Kettle C.J., Sheil D., Lee T.M., Giam X., Gibson L. & Clements G.R. 2013. Biodiversity state and trends in Southeast Asia. In: Encyclopedia of Biodiversity (Second Edition):509-527. PDF | URL

Gibson L.. 2013. Steering conservaion on a path towards hope. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 28:329-330. PDF | URL

Gibson L. & Koenig A. 2012. Neighboring groups and habitat edges modulate range use in Phayre's leaf monkeys (Trachypithecus phayrei). Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology 66:633-643. PDF | URL

Gibson L., Lee T.M., Koh L.P., Brook B.W., Gardner T.A., Barlow J., Peres C.A., Bradshaw C.J.A., Laurance W.F., Lovejoy T.E. & Sodhi N.S. 2011. Primary forests are irreplaceable for sustaining tropical biodiversity. Nature 478:378-381. PDF | URL | BBC | The Conversation | mongabay.com | ConservationBytes

Sodhi N.S., Butler R., Laurance W.F. & Gibson L. 2011. Conservation successes at micro-, meso- and macroscales. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 26:585-594. PDF | URL | mongabay.com | Yale e360 | Conservation Magazine | Science Daily

Bradshaw C.J.A., Laurance W.F., Gibson L., Ehrlich P.R. & Brook B.W. 2011. Homage to an avant-garde conservation leader, Navjot Sodhi. Conservation Biology 25:1056-1058. PDF | URL

Gibson L. 2011. Possible shift in macaque trophic level following a century of biodiversity loss in Singapore. Primates 52:217-220. PDF | URL | Conservation Magazine

Gibson L. & Sodhi N.S. 2011. Habitats at risk: a step forward, a step back. Science 331:1137. PDF | URL | Science Podcast

Singh H.S. & Gibson L. 2011. A conservation success story in the otherwise dire megafauna extinction crisis: the Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) of Gir forest. Biological Conservation 144:1753-1757. PDF | URL | Conservation Magazine | BBC

Larney E., Whitty T., Gibson L., et al. 2007. Return of wild Phayre's leaf monkey infants to their social group in Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand. Natural History Bulletin of the Siam Society 55:193-196.

Gibson L. 2006. The role of lethal control in managing the effects of apparent competition on endangered prey species. Wildlife Society Bulletin 34:1220-1224. PDF | URL

Books

Sodhi N.S., Gibson L. & Raven P.H (editors). 2013. Conservation Biology: Voices from the Tropics. Wiley. URL