Dr Chloe Heys


School of Health, Science and Wellbeing

I graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2012 with a degree in Zoology, before continuing my education with an MRes in Advanced Biological Sciences at the University of Liverpool, graduating in 2013. I continued my time here studying for a PhD in Zoology, under the supervision of Dr Zenobia Lewis and Dr Alistair Darby. I then moved onto the University of Glasgow to fulfil a postdoctoral researcher position within the Llewellyn Lab group, before joining Staffordshire University as a Lecturer in Microbiology in 2020.

Professional memberships and activities

Member of the American Society for Microbiology.

Member of the British Ecological Society.

Member of the Animal Behaviour Society.

Active journal article reviewer across wide range of journals.

Academic qualifications

PhD (University of Liverpool, 2018)

MRes Advanced Biological Sciences (University of Liverpool, 2013)

BSc (hons) Zoology (University of Liverpool, 2012)



Host-microbiome interactions

Animal Behaviour


Research interests

I am fundamentally interested in host-microbiome interactions, with a particular focus on the role of the gut microbiota on driving the evolution of behaviours in animals. My PhD focussed on the relationship between gut microbiota and animal behaviour in various species of Drosophila with varying ecologies. I use a multi-faceted approach, combining behavioural trials and observations with microbiological and molecular techniques, to test a number of ecological predictions. I have worked with Drosophila in both laboratory and field settings for over eight years, and I have a wealth of experience in conducting large-scale mating experiments and microbiological assays. I extended these techniques when transitioning from studying invertebrates to vertebrates, with my postdoctoral research examining the role of the gut microbiota in mediating health, physiology and behaviour of Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar. Using aquarium facilities at the University of Glasgow and an experimental river system at the Marine Institute in Ireland, I am primarily investigating the role of the gut microbiota in overwintering behaviour, or ‘torpor’, in salmon, but I am also involved in several other projects.


I am also the Principal Investigator on a GCRF funded project identifying a novel approach to tackling the illegal trade of birdlife in Indonesia. The aim of this project is to bring together international academics, NGOs and policy makers to develop a framework for exploring the effect that the illegal wildlife trade has on bird species (with a particular focus on parrots and songbirds) and identifying new methods to reduce this impact. We are using a highly interdisciplinary approach–combining disciplines such as zoology, economics, psychology and sociology, in order to achieve this goal.


I am the Module Lead for:

  • Genetics and Diversity (level four).
  • Global Issues and Professional Development (level five).
  • Research Projects for HealthCare Scientists


  • Heys C, Cheaib B, Busetti A, Kazlauskaite R, Maier L, Sloan WT, Ijaz UZ, Kaufmann J, McGinnity P, Llewellyn MS. (2020) Neutral processes dominate microbial community assembly in Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 1;86(8):e02283-19
  • Heys C, Lize A, Lewis Z, Price TARP. (2020). Drosophila sexual attractiveness in older males is mediated by their microbiota. Invited special issue Microorganisms, 8:168.
  • Heys C, Lizé A, Colinet H, Price TARP, Prescott M, Ingleby F, Lewis Z. (2018). Microbiota counteracts male outbreeding strategy by inhibiting sexual signalling in females. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 6:29.
  • Heys C, Lizé A, Blow F, White L, Darby A, Lewis Z. (2018). The effect of gut microbiota elimination in Drosophila melanogaster: A how-to guide for host-microbiome studies. Ecology and Evolution, 00:1–12.
  • Walsh B, Heys C, Lewis Z. (2017). Gut microbiota influences female choice and fecundity in the nuptial gift-giving species, Drosophila subobscura (Diptera: Drosophilidae). European Journal of Entomology, 114:439-445.
  • Antwis RE. [et al, including Heys C]. (2017). Fifty important research questions in microbial ecology. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 1:93-95.
  • Verspoor RL, Heys C, Price TARP. (2015). Dyeing insects for behavioural assays: the mating behaviour of anaesthetised Drosophila. Journal of Visualised Experiments, 98: e52645.
  • Lizé A, Price TARP, Heys C, Lewis Z, Hurst GDD. (2014). Extreme cost of rivalry in a monandrous species: male-male interactions result in failure to acquire mates and reduced longevity. Proceedings of the Royal Society London Series B. 281: 20140631
  • Lewis Z, Heys C, Prescott M, Lizé A. (2014). You are what you eat: gut microbiota determines kin recognition in Drosophila. Gut Microbes, 5:541-3
Top 15 for Teaching Quality

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021

6th for Social Inclusion

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022

Midlands University of the Year

Midlands Business Awards 2020