Hesselberg, Dr Thomas


Thomas Hesselberg

Stipendiary Lecturer in Biological Sciences

Academic background

Thomas completed his first degree in biological sciences at Aarhus Universitet in Denmark and did his PhD in biomimetics at the University of Bath. He teaches widely, both here at St. Anne’s College, at the Department for Continuing Education, and at the Department of Zoology. From 2009 – 2011 he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Oxford, doing research on the interface between animal behaviour and comparative biomechanics using the orb spider and its web as a model organism.


Thomas is responsible for giving tutorials to St. Anne’s biology students in quantitative methods, evolution and animal behaviour as well as providing pastoral care and helping out with admissions.

Research interests

Animal Behaviour, Arachnology, Behavioural Ecology, Biomimetics, Comparative Biomechanics, Invertebrate Zoology, Subterranean Biology.

Recent Publications

Hesselberg, T. (2023) The biomimetic potential of novel adaptations in subterranean animals. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 11, doi: 10.3389/fevo.2023.1127728.

Hesselberg, T.; Boyd, K.M.; Styrsky, J.D. and Gálvez, D. (2023). Host Plant Specificity in Web-Building Spiders. Insects 14, 229.

Mammola, S., Lunghi, E., Bilandzija, H., Cardoso, P. Grimm V., Schmidt, S. I., Hesselberg, T. and Martínez, A. (2021). Collecting eco-evolutionary data in the dark: Impediments to subterranean research and how to overcome them. Ecology and Evolution 11, 5911-5926.

Simonsen, D. and Hesselberg, T. (2021). Unique behavioural modifications in the web structure of the cave orb spider Meta menardi (Araneae, Tetragnathidae). Scientific Reports 11, 92.

Gomes, D., Hesselberg, T. and Barber, J. (2021). Phantom river noise alters orb-weaving spider abundance, web size, and prey capture. Functional Ecology 35, 717-726.

da Silva, G. D. P. and Hesselberg, T.  (2020). A Review of the Use of Black Soldier Fly Larvae, Hermetia illucens (Diptera: Stratiomyidae), to Compost Organic Waste in Tropical Regions. Neotropical Entomology 49, 151-162. doi.org/10.1007/s13744-019-00719-z

Gardner, E., Hesselberg, T., Grabowska-Zhang, A. and Hughes, J. (2019). The effect of woodland area on avian community composition in a fragmented southern UK landscape and associated management recommendations. Bird Study 66, 293-305. doi.org/10.1080/00063657.2019.1656707

Hesselberg, T. and Simonsen, D. (2019). A comparison of morphology and web geometry between hypogean and epigean species of Metellina orb spiders (family Tetragnathidae). Subterranean Biology 32, 1-13. doi.org/10.3897/subtbiol.32.36222

Hesselberg, T., Simonsen, D. and Juan, C. (2019). Do cave orb spiders show unique behavioural adaptations to subterranean life? A review of the evidence. Behaviour 156, 969-996. doi.org/10.1163/1568539X-00003564

Njovu, H. K., Kisingo, A. W., Hesselberg, T. and Eustace, A. (2019). The spatial and temporal distribution of mammal roadkills in the Kwakuchinja Wildlife Corridor in Tanzania. African Journal of Ecology 57, 423-428. doi.org/10.1111/aje.12608.

See more here.