Dr. Justin Gerlach
Teaching interestsPublications Biology at Peterhouse Biology News Remarkable Species

E-mail: gerlachs@btinternet.com


Research and Conservation


Since 1986 I have been active in research on diverse topics ranging from island ecosystems, taxonomy (of plants, snails, insects, spiders, lizards, frogs and mammals), phylogenetics, ecology, anatomy, and morphological evolution.

  • Biodiversity assessments - comprehensive assessment of the non-marine biodiversity of all 115 Seychelles islands, providing current data on the distribution and status of all terrestrial and freshwater taxa. The simple inventory and taxonomy nature of the biodiversity assessment provides useful data but only as an isolated picture. I also developed in-depth ecological investigations on several islands of the Seychelles group. The main focus was on Silhouette island which retains the most diverse natural habitats of any island in the region. This all combines into an interest in the evolution of island ecosystems

  • Taxonomy and biogeography - particularly on snails and tortoises. The ecological and conservation significance of basic taxonomic work is indicated by my work on Indian Ocean giant tortoises. The development of the giant tortoise conservation project enabled me to pursue research into the morphological, behavioural and dietary adaptations of these species and to start investigating their role in island ecosystems. This has led to an interest in tortoise and turtle evolution

  • Partula snails - taxonomy, evolution and conservation of the historically important snail family and their infamous predator Euglandina rosea


    Much of my research work has linked to conservation of island species and ecosystems. My conservation activity has covered active habitat and species management, reintroduction, conservation breeding, population monitoring and mathematical modeling. Published models include the effects of demographic instability on extinction risks of small populations, evolutionary adaptation to island conditions and the relevance of the metapopulation to the processes of colonisation and the dynamics of invasion by alien snails.

  • Partula snails - ecology of the snails and their predators population and climate modeling

  • Seychelles islands - invasion biology, development and politics. Significant project included saving the Seychelles sheath-tailed bat, the world's most threatened bat, and giant tortoises. This work integrated evolutionary ecology and conservation and demonstrated that many received conservation problems can be accommodated by a healthy ecosystem. This also indicated that the conventional orthodoxy that island systems are especially prone to disruption by invasive alien species may be overly simplistic.

  • Invertebrates and the Red List - evaluating the status of the world's invertebrates

  • Climate change - ecosystem change, adaptability, frogs, snails and others