James T. Costa

Department of Biology
Professor; Director, Highlands Biological Station

Phone: 828-227-3811; 828-526-2602
Office Address: Stillwell 201


  • Ph.D., University of Georgia, 1992
  • M.S., University of Georgia, 1988
  • B.S., SUNY Cortland, 1985


  • Darwin's Origin of Species (BIOL 420/520)
  • Biogeography (BIOL 632)
  • Insect Behavior (Highlands Biological Station)
  • Evolution in the Blue Ridge: Teaching Darwin with Darwin (Highlands Biological Station; for science educators)
  • co-Instructor, Darwin and the Origins of Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University Summer Darwin Program, Oxford University, Oxford, UK.


  • Costa J. T. 2014. Wallace, Darwin, and the Origin of Species. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. [Forthcoming Spring 2014]
  • Costa, J. T. 2013. On the Organic Law of Change: An Annotated Transcription of Alfred Russel Wallace's Species Notebook of 1855-1859. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 559 pp.
  • Costa, J. T. (Author) and R. M. Sargent (Photographer). 2012. Highlands Botanical Garden: A Naturalist's Guide. Highlands, NC: Highlands Biological Foundation, Inc., 250 pp.
  • Costa, J. T. 2009. The Annotated Origin: A Facsimile of the First Edition of On the Origin of Species. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap/Harvard University Press, 576 pp.
  • Costa, J. T. 2006. The Other Insect Societies. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap/Harvard University Press, 812 pp.



Journal articles and book chapters (past 5 years):

  • Costa, J. T. 2013a. Hamiltonian inclusive fitness: A fitter fitness concept. Biology Letters 9: 20130335.
  • Costa, J. T. 2013b. Engaging with Lyell: Alfred Russel Wallace's Sarawak Law and Ternate papers as reactions to Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology. Theory in Biosciences DOI 10.1007/s12064-013-0188-1
  • Costa, J. T. 2013c. Synonymy and its discontents: Alfred Russel Wallace's nomenclatural proposals from the 'Species Notebook' of 1855–1859. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 70: 131-148.
  • Costa, J. T. 2013d. On the Organic Law of Change: Alfred Russel Wallace and the book that should have been. Evolve [Natural History Museum, London] 17: 30-33.
  • Costa, J. T. 2012. New landscapes and new eyes: The many voyages of Charles Darwin. pp. 42-55 In: S. G. da Silva et al. (eds.) (Dis)Entangling Darwin: Cross-Disciplinary Reflections on the Man and His Legacy. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  • Lihoreau, M., J. T. Costa, and C. Rivault. 2012. The social biology of domiciliary cockroaches: colony structure, kin recognition and collective decisions. Insectes Sociaux 59: 445-452.
  • Costa, J. T. 2010. Social evolution in 'other' insects and arachnids. In: Breed M.D. and Moore J. (eds) Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, pp. 231-241. Oxford: Academic Press.
  • Costa, J. T. 2009. Darwinian revelation: tracing the origin and evolution of an idea. BioScience 59: 886-894.


Scientific papers presented (past 5 years):

  • Costa, J. T. 2013. The Consilient Mr. Wallace: Insights from Alfred Russel Wallace's 'Species Notebook.'  Wallace Day, Cambridge Science Festival and Harvard Museum of Natural History, Harvard University, 26 October 2013.
  • Costa, J. T. 2013. On the Organic Law of Change: Insights from Alfred Russel Wallace's 'Species Notebook.'  Wallace100 Lecture Series, Natural History Museum, London, 8 May 2013.
  • Costa, J. T. 2013. On the Organic Law of Change: Alfred Russel Wallace's evolutionary insights and arguments in his "Species Notebook" of 1855-1859. Unremitting Passion for the Beauty and Mystery of the Natural World: Linnean Society of London & Society for the History of Natural History joint Alfred Russel Wallace Centenary Event, Bournemouth, UK, 7 June 2013.
  • Costa, J. T. 2011. Social terminology redux, or, What's in a name?  Invited symposium speaker, Entomological Society of America National Meeting, Reno, Nevada, 13-16 November 2011.
  • Costa, J. T. 2009. New Landscapes and new eyes: The many voyages of Charles Darwin.  (Dis)Entangling Darwin: Cross-Disciplinary Reflections on the Man and his Legacy, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal, 4-5 December 2009.
  • Costa, J. T. 2009. Darwin evolving: A historical perspective on Darwin's view of natural selection and ecology. Charles Darwin Bicentennial Symposium, Association of Southeastern Biologists annual meeting, Birmingham, Alabama, April 1-4, 2009




 Seminars (past 5 Years):

  • Department of Biology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
  • Zahner Lecture Series, Highlands Biological Station


  • Department of Biology, UNC Greensboro, Greensboro, NC


  • Keynote speaker, Scholars' Day, SUNY Cortland, Cortland, NY
  • Department of Biology, Utah State University, Logan, UT


  • Keynote Speaker, Audubon NC annual meeting, Highlands, NC
  • Department of Biology, UNC-Asheville, Asheville, NC
  • Depart. of Biology, North Ga. College & State Univ., Dahlonega, GA
  • Department of Biology, Clemson University, Clemson, SC
  • Department of Biology, Francis Marion University, Florence, SC
  • Department of Biology, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC
  • School of Science & Mathematics, The Citadel, Charleston, SC
  • Department of Biology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN


  • Salem State University Darwin Festival, Salem, Mass.
  • Appalachian State University Darwin Bicentennial Lecture Series
  • Keynote Speaker, UT-Knoxville Darwin Day celebration
  • Zahner Lectures in Conservation Biology, Highlands Biological Station
  • Department of Biology, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent), Durham, NC
  • Keynote Speaker, North Carolina Science Leadership Association annual meeting, Greensboro, North Carolina


Special lectures, exhibits, panel discussions etc. (past 5 years):


  • Leader/lecturer, Harvard Museum of Natural History / National Geographic-Lindblad Expeditions Galápagos Islands Program


  • Working Group panel, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent), Duke University: Large-scale demographic, network, and behavioral trait analyses of sociality.


  • Invited participant, Evolution of Insect Sociality: An Integrative Modeling Approach catalysis meeting, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent), Duke University, October 2010.
  • Keynote Speaker, Georgia Museum of Natural History annual fundraiser, Georgia Botanical Garden, Athens, GA, October 2010.
  • Panelist, The Human Spark, revisited; North Carolina Science Leadership Association meeting, November 2010.
  • Profiled in "Real-Life Science Mysteries" by Colleen Kessler (2010, Prufrock Press); exploration of hands-on science for grades 5-8.


  • Panelist, UNC-TV special screening of The Human Spark, PBS program on human evolution, 8 October 2009.
  • Panelist, RE: Design post-production discussion, North Carolina State University, 4 November 2009.
  • Panelist, Darwin and the Origin of Species, Appalachian State University, 19 November 2009.




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