I am broadly interested in the evolutionary ecology of ecological communities, and my background is in entomology and statistics. I use theoretical and empirical methods and try to combine the two as often as possible. My empirical research generally focuses on insect communities, but I have also worked on other systems through collaboration. Some of my research interests include:

How does coevolution alter the effects of climate change on ecological communities?

How do community structure and interactions alter ecosystem functions, such as natural pest control by insect predators?

How does climate change alter ecosystem functions provided by ecological communities?

How do land management regimes influence biodiversity conservation?

More information on me and my labgroup is available at northfieldlab.org

  • BZ2725: Australian Terrestrial Diversity (Level 2; CNS & TSV)
  • BZ3225: Field Ecology (Level 3; CNS)
  • BZ3745: Tropical Entomology (Level 3; CNS)
  • BZ5225: Field Ecology (Level 5; CNS)
  • BZ5745: Tropical Entomology (Level 5; CNS)
  • BZ5925: Australian Terrestrial Diversity (Level 5; CNS & TSV)
  • SC1102: Modelling Natural Systems (Level 1; CNS)
  • SC1109: Modelling Natural Systems-Advanced (Level 1; CNS & TSV)
  • SC2209: Quantitative Methods in Science-Advanced (Level 2; CNS & TSV)
  • Community ecology
  • Theoretical ecology
  • Statistical ecology
  • Biological control
  • 2013 to present - Lecturer, James Cook University
  • 2011 to 2013 - Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Wisconsin
Research Disciplines
  • JCU Inclusive Practice Award
  • JCU Early Career Researcher Rising Star

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 29+ research outputs authored by Dr Tobin Northfield from 2008 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science - Innovation Connections - Entrepreneurs' Programme

Evaluation of Beauveria bassiana for rust thrips control in Australian Bananas

Indicative Funding
$48,591 over 2 years, in partnership with FADA Pty Ltd ($48,593)
We will evaluate the ability of a common fungus known to infect insects to control rust thrips, which are economically important pests of Australian bananas. We will conduct field and laboratory work and to evaluate its effectiveness and natural occurrence on farms. The aims are to conduct on-farm surveys of the fungus on ecoganic banana farms, and culture surveyed farm-collected strains in the laboratory and evaluate their effectiveness. If successful, this will provide an ecologically friendly method of pest control that will improve banana yields and reduce the need for pesticide sprays.
Tobin Northfield and Anna McGuire (College of Science & Engineering)
Pest Control; Thrips; Insects; Bananas

Australian Lions Foundation - Scientific and Medical Research on Marine Species Dangerous to Humans

Where are they? Using eDNA as a bio-indicator of Box Jellyfish abundance.

Indicative Funding
Environmental DNA (eDNA), relates to short snippets of genetic material, released into the environment by an organism, through natural process such as cell sloughing and excretion. Very recently, methods have evolved, allowing this DNA to be filtered out of the environment and used as bio-indicators for processes such as species abundance, and, distribution modeling. This project proposes to run a pilot study, testing efficacy of eDNA as a tool to detect and quantity the abundance of Carukia barnesi polyp. If successful, this information will be used, alongside existing physiological and distribution data, to locate these polyps in the field.
Olivia Rowley, Jamie Seymour and Tobin Northfield (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine and College of Science & Engineering)
Cubozoa; Box jellyfish; eDNA; Ecology; Statistical Modelling; Global Climate Change

Wet Tropics Management Authority - Student Research Grant Scheme

Evaluating butterfly conservation status in the Wet Tropics bioregion of Queensland, Australia

Indicative Funding
The project aims to investigate general butterfly abundance and diversity in three land management practices (forested, agricultural with a focus on sugarcane cultivation, and urban areas) within the Wet Tropics, Queensland. This is being done over a 12-month period to capture seasonal trends. Butterflies are being sampled using fruit-baited traps, and are marked and released following identification. A species-specific survey is also being done on the Ulysses butterfly using visual encounter techniques. In addition to the ecological survey, sugarcane farmers and residents of urban areas sampled are being interviewed to gauge their level of awareness of butterflies in their surroundings.
Hemchandranauth Sambhu and Tobin Northfield (College of Science & Engineering)
Fruit feeding butterflies; Local Knowledge; Urban area; Sugar Cane; Human disturbance; Conservation

Powerlink Queensland - Contract Research

Abrasive Blasting - Are There Any Environmental Concerns

Indicative Funding
$74,284 over 2 years
The re-surfacing and re-use of existing high voltage towers instead of removing and replacing with new structures has the potential to alter the way that power transmission infrastructure is used in the long term in Queensland. This project will look at using abrasive blasting in the high value and sensitive landscape of the rainforests of the Wet Tropics and will develop the science narrative around how the process interacts with the local environment.
Michael Liddell, Tobin Northfield, Lucas Cernusak, Anthony Morrison, Simon Berryman and Nicole Lashmar (College of Science & Engineering, Macquarie University and Powerlink Queensland)
Invertebrate Physiology; Ecophysiology; Aerosols

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • The Impacts of Soil Physicochemicol Properties on Suppression of Fusorium wilt of Bananas in North Queensland, Australia. (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • An Investigation into Venom Regeneration in Arthropods (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Fruit development in Theobroma cacao: understanding the limitations to optimized cacao production. (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Effects of land use on butterfly (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) abundance and diversity in the tropical coastal regions of Guyana and Australia (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Physiology and Ecology of Cubozoa (PhD , Secondary Advisor)

These are the most recent metadata records associated with this researcher. To see a detailed description of all dataset records, visit the JCU Research Data Catalogue.


The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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  • E1.102D, Health & Sciences (Cairns campus)
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