Member Listing


Gabrielle Davidson



Other Affiliation

Cambridge Department of Psychology


Principal Investigator

Research Summary

I study the causes and consequences of individual differences in cognition and behaviour in wild birds. I employ a mixture of field-based research using advanced automated data collection devices, cognitive assays in captivity and molecular techniques. My current research aims are to identify causal directions of host-microbiome relationships in wild animals, provide novel insight into environmental determinants of individual differences in microbiome, identify mechanisms underlying microbiome-mediated cognition, and examine trade-offs and fitness consequences associated with host-microbiome interactions. To date I have used 16S rRNA sequencing and bioinformatics with QIIME 2 to categorise the wild gut microbiome in birds.

Inferring causality will be key to understanding the microbiome’s role in driving behavioural and cognitive variation. I am interested in metagenomic and metabolomic approaches as a means to look for molecular markers that indicate microbiome-mediated neurological processes


Bioinformatics, Endocrinology, Neuroscience, Other

Selected Publications

Davidson, GL, Somers, SE, Wiley, N, Johnson, CN, Reichert, MS, Ross, RP, Stanton, C, Quinn JL. A time-lagged association between the gut microbiome, nestling growth and nestling survival in wild great tits. In Review. Preprint doi:

Davidson, GL, Wiley, N, Cooke, AC, Johnson, CN, Fouhy, F, Reichert, MS, de la Hera, I, Crane, JMS, Kulahci, IG, Ross PR, Stanton, C, Quinn, JL Diet induces parallel changes to the gut microbiota and problem solving performance in a wild bird. Scientific Reports. In press.
Preprint: doi:

Davidson, GL, Raulo, A, Knowles, SCL (2020) Identifying microbiome-mediated behaviour in wild vertebrates. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 35:11, 972-980.

Michael S. Reichert, MS, Crofts, SJ, Davidson, GL, Firth, JA, Kulahci, IG, Quinn ,JL (2020) Multiple factors affect discrimination learning performance, but not between-individual variation, in wild mixed-species flocks of birds. Royal Society Open Science. 7:192107

Davidson, GL, Cooke, AC, Johnson, CN, Quinn, JL. (2018) The microbiome as a driver of individual differences in cognition and functional behaviour. Phil Trans R Soc B. 373: 20170286.

Other field of expertise

Animal behaviour and cognition