josh gibson

Josh Gibson

MS Student

Entomology

jcgibso2@illinois.edu

My research interests are in ant evolution, specifically the evolution of trap-jaw mechanisms in ants.

The high speed, catapult-like trap-jaw mechanism has evolved at least 5 times in ants, and is an astounding example of convergent evolution. The morphology, neurobiology and kinesiology of most of the trap-jaw lineages have been well studied, but there are still many questions about trap-jaw ant evolution that remain to be adequately addressed. What morphological and behavioral prerequisites are required for a trap-jaw mechanism to evolve? Have similar ecological pressures, such as specialization on fast prey, driven the evolution of this mechanism across the various trap-jaw ant lineages? What genetic and molecular mechanisms control the development of trap-jaw mandibles? These are all questions I hope to address as part of my masters and PhD research.