Dr Ross Davidson

Mathematical Epidemiologist
Disease Systems
Animal & Veterinary Sciences

Research interests

I am a Mathematical Epidemiologist in SRUC’s Disease Systems team. My background is in mathematical physics, although my current research interests are in mathematical modelling and statistical inference for the spread of disease. This is both methodological and applied. The applications are mostly in the areas of terrestrial agriculture and aquaculture, but I also have interests in wildlife and human epidemiology, particularly where these interact with each other or livestock (such as zoonoses, vector-bourne diseases and reservoirs of infection).

Methodological research:

  • Bayesian techniques for fitting stochastic process based epidemiological models
  • Diagnostic test response dynamics and inference
  • Quantification and epidemiological methods for genetic effects on disease resistance
  • Process based stochastic modelling techniques


  • Aquaculture – identification and quantification of genetic effects on disease resistance, development of operational modelling approaches for deploying resistant stock, modelling of disease control
  • Bovine Tuberculosis – Parameter estimation for TB in badgers, origin of the perturbation effect in demographic processes, spatial models of disease spread
  • Paratuberculosis – Role of wildlife hosts in paraTB epidemiology, estimation methods for control efficacy, estimation of test characteristics for novel phage based assays
  • Parasite dynamics and ecology in grazing systems
  • Disease surveillance in wild and managed systems

Selected research projects

  • Scottish Government Innovation tender 2016-2019.
    Co-PI with Glenn Marion. Innovations in Aquaculture: Delivering operational methods for the control of infectious disease
  • Scottish Government strategic research programme (2011-2016), Theme 6:
    Workpackage 6.1: Co-PI, Measurement and Monitoring to Enhance Livestock Health
    Workpackage 6.2: Co-PI, Prevention and Control of Important Endemic, Zoonotic and New Diseases of Animals
  • Wildtech Project
    EU FP7. Co-Investigator: Novel Technologies for Surveillance of Emerging and Re-emerging Infections of Wildlife.
  • TBStep project
    EU FP7. Co-Investigator: Strategies for the eradication of bovine tuberculosis.


  • Teaching two modules on the new University of Edinburgh MSc in “Disease in livestock ecosystems: dynamics and control”, commencing 2016.
  • University of Edinburgh OneHealth M.Sc.: Delivery and development of “Modelling biological processes” module (2012/13)

PhD students

  • Zara Gerrard
    Joint studentship with University of Nottingham, Impact of new methods of detecting Mycobacterium paratuberculosis on control of Johne's disease in cattle
  • Gustaf Rydevik
    Joint studentship with BioSS and the University of York. Hindcasting trends of infection using cross-sectional diagnostic data (2015)
  • Morag Macpherson
    Joint studentship with Heriot-Watt University. Deterministic and stochastic population modelling with application to both the maternal effects hypothesis and spatial models of red squirrel populations on Arran (2014)
    Laura Walton
    Joint studentship with BioSS and the University of York. Modelling the effects of ecology on wildlife disease surveillance (2014)
  • Naomi Fox
    Joint studentship with BioSS and the University of York. Predicting impacts of climate change on livestock parasites (2012)
    Jamie Prentice
    Joint studentship with BioSS and the University of York. The perturbation effect in wildlife systems: An emergent property of simple models (2012)
  • Leo Zijerveld
    Joint studentship with BioSS and the University of Edinburgh. Integrated modelling and Bayesian inference applied to population and disease dynamics in wildlife: M.Bovis in Badgers in Woodchester Park (2012)

Selected publications

  • Macpherson, M.F., Davidson, R.S., Duncan, D.B., Lurz, P.W., Jarrott, A and White, A (2015) Incorporating habitat distribution in wildlife disease models: conservation implications for the threat of squirrelpox on the Isle of Arran. Animal Conservation 19(1), 3-14. doi: 10.1111/acv.12219
  • Fox N.J, Marion, G., Davidson, R.S., White, P.C.L. and Hutchings, M.R. (2015) Climate-driven tipping-points could lead to sudden,high-intensity parasite outbreaks. J. Roy. Soc. open sci. 2:140296. doi:10.1098/rsos.140296. Full text
  • Prentice J. C., Marion, G., White, P. C. L., Davidson, R. S. and Hutchings, M. R. (2014) Demographic processes drive increases in wildlife disease following population reduction. PLoS One 9(5): e86563. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086563
  • Davidson, R. S., McKendrick, I.J., Wood, J. C., Marion, G., Greig, A., Stevenson, K., Sharp, M., Hutchings, M.R. (2012). Accounting for uncertainty in model-based prevalence estimation: paratuberculosis control in dairy herds. BMC veterinary research, 8, 159. doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-159
  • Davidson RS, Marion G, White PC, Hutchings MR (2008). Use of host population reduction to control wildlife infection: rabbits and paratuberculosis. Epidemiology and infection. 137:131-8 doi:10.1017/S0950268808000642

See all of Dr Ross Davidson's publications here.

Dr Ross Davidson

Mathematical Epidemiologist

Address: SRUC, Roslin Institute Building, Easter Bush, Midlothian, EH25 9RG

Telephone: 0131 651 9351

E-mail: ross.davidson@sruc.ac.uk