Dr Katie L. Edwards

Conservation Scholar Alumni

MSc - The Role of Social Interactions on Adrenocortical Activity in Female Barbary Macaques: Analysis of HPA Axis Activity using Faecal Glucocorticoids.

PhD - Investigating Population Performance and Factors that Influence Reproductive Success in the Eastern Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis michaeli)

Katie earned her bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees at the University of Liverpool, UK, conducting both her MSc and PhD research in collaboration with the Chester Zoo’s wildlife endocrinology lab.

Her doctorate research was a NERC-CASE partnership investigating factors associated with reproductive success in eastern black rhinoceros in European zoos. This was a multi-institutional study involving 90% of the European population.

Katie’s research incorporated demographic analysis of population performance and utilised endocrinology to investigate how a variety of different factors may impact breeding success.

This highly collaborative and multi-disciplinary research contributed to a ‘baby-boom’ of black rhinos both at Chester Zoo and other zoos in Europe, and received the BIAZA best research project award in 2013.

Since completing her Ph.D., Katie has moved to the USA where she is now a Postdoctoral Fellow for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), based in the wildlife endocrinology lab in Front Royal, Virginia.

Katie joined SCBI in 2014 as a George E. Burch Postdoctoral Fellow, and is currently supported by the Morris Animal Foundation. Katie’s research is part of a multi-institutional study to investigate zoo elephant welfare. Her current focus is on elephant health, understanding what pathologies occur among elephants in North American zoos, and how they link with different factors in a zoo environment and developing novel tools to aid in their detection and management.

All of this research has a similar goal – to provide scientific evidence to guide wellbeing practices and ultimately improve both the sustainability of in zoo conservation breeding programmes and the wellbeing of endangered species.

Project partners

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Edwards, K.E., Trotter, J., Jones, M., Steinmetz, H., Walker, S.L. (2015). Investigating temporary acyclicity in a captive group of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus): relationship between management, adrenal activity and social factors. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 225, 104-116\. 10.1016/j.ygcen.2015.09.011

Edwards, K.L., Walker, S.L., Dunham, A.D., Pilgrim, M., Okita-Ouma, B., Shultz, S. (2015). Low birth rates and reproductive skew limit the viability of Europe’s captive eastern black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis michaeli) Biodiversity and Conservation, 24(11), 2831-2852\. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-015-0976-7

Edwards, K.L., Shultz, S., Pilgrim, M., Walker, S.L. (2015). Male reproductive success is correlated with testosterone in the eastern black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis michaeli). General and Comparative Endocrinology, 213, 40-49\. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ygcen.2014.12.015

Edwards, K.L., Shultz, S., Pilgrim, M., Walker, S.L. (2014). Irregular ovarian activity, body condition and behavioural differences are associated with reproductive success in female eastern black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis michaeli). General and Comparative Endocrinology, 214, 186-194\. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ygcen.2014.07.026

Edwards, K.L., McArthur, H.M, Liddicoat, T., Walker, S.L. (2014). A practical field extraction method for non-invasive monitoring of hormonal activity in black rhinoceros, Diceros bicornis. Conservation Physiology, 2 (1). https://doi.org/10.1093/conphys/cot037

Edwards, K.L., Walker, S.L., Bodenham, R.F., Wiper, S., Ritchie, H., Shultz, S. and Walker, S.L. (2013). Associations between agonistic social behaviour and adrenal activity in Barbary macaques: consequences of study design. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 186, 72-79\. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ygcen.2013.02.023

Watson, R., Munro, C., Edwards, K., Norton, V., Brown, J.L., Walker, S.L. (2012). Development of a versatile enzyme immunoassay for non-invasive assessment of glucocorticoid metabolites in a diversity of taxonomic species. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 186, 16-24\. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ygcen.2013.02.001


Prof Susanne Shultz (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Manchester)
Dr Sue Walker (Chester Zoo)
Dr Mark Pilgrim (Chester Zoo)

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