Gabrielle A. Nevitt

albatross with young

Position Title

  • Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, College of Biological Sciences
  • Bodega Marine Laboratory
  • Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute
1131 Green Hall

Research Interests

Sensory ecology, Olfaction, Organism/Environment interactions, Conservation and Enrichment

A major focus of my laboratory is to better understand the sensory ecology of other organisms, and how these systems are shaped by evolution. My specialty is olfaction - the sense of smell - and much of my research has focused on exploring how marine birds and fishes use smell in the natural environment. I have worked in areas ranging from olfactory homing in salmon, to olfactory foraging, navigation and individual recognition in birds, and in particular, petrels and albatrosses. Because our world is experiencing rapid, anthropogenic change, our work increasingly interfaces with problems associated with global climate, habitat loss or degradation and by-catch concerns in marine fisheries. Many of the species we study are currently threatened or endangered. In line with this concern, we also conduct research on the proximate and evolutionary factors contributing to phenotypic plasticity, and this work has been carried out primarily with model fish species (various species of desert pupfish and salmon).

Grad Group Affiliations

  • Animal Behavior
  • Ecology Graduate Group

Specialties / Focus

  • Behavior, Physiology and Morphology
  • Physiology and Behavior


  • NPB 102 Mechanisms of Animal Behavior, Spring
  • ANB 201 Grant writing / Advanced Methods in Behavior, Spring



Field Sites

  • French sub-Antarctic
  • Bon Portage Island, CANADA
  • Curaçao, Netherlands, Antilles

Professional Societies

  • AAAS
  • Association for Chemorecption Sciences (ACHEMS)
  • American Geophysical Union (AGU)


  • 1983 BS (Biology) Stanford University
  • 1990 PhD (Zoology) University of Washington
  • 1983 MS (Biology) Stanford University



Debose, J.L., Lema, S.C., & Nevitt, G.A. (2008). Dimethylsulfionoproprianate as a foraging cue for reef fishes. Science, 319, 1356.

Nevitt, G.A., Losekoot, M. & Weimerskirch, H. (2008). Evidence for olfactory search in Wandering albatross Diomedea exulans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(12), 4576-81. (Cover article)

Nevitt, G.A. (2008). Sensory ecology on the high seas: The odor world of the procellariiform seabirds. Journal of Experimental Biology, 211, 1706-1713.

De Bose, J. L. & Nevitt, G. A. (2008). The use of odors at different spatial scales: Comparing birds with fish. Journal of Chemical Ecology 34(7), 867-81.

VanBuskirk, R. & Nevitt, G.A. (2008). The influence of developmental environment on the evolution of olfactory foraging behavior in procellariiform seabirds. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 21(1), 67-76.

VanBuskirk, R. & Nevitt, G.A. (2007). Evolutionary arguments for olfactory behavior in modern birds. ChemoSense, 10(1), 2-6.

Kihlsinger, R.K., Lema, S.C. & Nevitt, G.A. (2006) Environmental rearing conditions produce differences in the relative brain size of wild Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A, 145 (2): 145-51.

Lema, S. C. & Nevitt, G.A. (2006). Testing an ecophysiological mechanism of morphological plasticity in pupfish and its relevance to conservation efforts for endangered Devils Hole pupfish. Journal of Experimental Biology, 209, 3499-3509.