Gabrielle Davidson


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Personal profile



I am a behavioural ecologist and comparative psychologist with research interests in the ecology of gut microbiome variation in wild animals, and the development and evolution of cognition across species. 

I am a British Trust for Ornithology bird ringer, a member of the British Ecological Society, Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour, Cambridge Philosophical Societyand the Cambridge Canoe Club. 

My group manages long-term monitored population of great tits (Parus major) and blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) and implements the use of Radio Frequency Identification technology integrated into nest boxes and feeders to autonomously measure cognition and behaviour in the wild. My current research focuses on the environmental and social determinants of individual differences in gut microbiome and how the gut microbiome impacts on host cognition across heterogeneous environments. 

I love communicating science and engaging with public audiences on wild animal behaviour and conservation, and provide several talks to wildlife groups across England, offer bird ringing demonstrations, and participate in BioBlitz programs. I am passionate about education, and have contributed lectures in behavioural ecology, evolutionary ecology, comparative cognition, research methods and statistics.   

My group is inclusive of all races, genders and sexualities. I aim to apply practical solutions to achieve a diverse, accessible and inclusive environment across academia, and I am open to learn more about the difficulties of under-represented groups. 


Organisms display a wide range of behaviours and cognitive abilities, varying within and between individuals and species. How individuals interact with their environment is dependent on their behaviour and cognition, and therefore fundamental for predicting animal responses to human-induced environmental change. Intriguingly, there is recent emerging evidence pointing to the gut microbiome as a key mechanism influencing cognitive and behavioural variation. Two key questions emerge (1) How do individual differences in learning, risk taking, and behavioural flexibility determine an organism’s success in a rapidly changing world? (2) when and how does the gut microbiome mediate host phenotypic plasticity in response to changing environments? Gabrielle's research on wild birds has demonstrated consistent individual differences in learning, impulse control, and risk taking behaviour, and that these differences have important consequences for foraging flexibility and fitness. Our most recent work offers tantalising evidence that the gut microbiota influence bird behaviour and fitness in wild populations, and therefore may act as a key mechanism driving animal responses to changing environments.  

These results have laid the foundation of Gabrielle's current research group investigating the links between gut microbiota and social behaviour, cognition and fitness in wild birds, alongside the impact of urbanisation.  

If you’re interested in joining our team as a grad student, post doc or research fellow, please get in touch.  

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Science, University of Cambridge


Bachelor of Science, University College London


External positions

Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow, University of Cambridge


Post-doctoral Researcher, University College Cork


Research Associate, University of Cambridge


Research Assistant, Institute of Neurology


Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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