Dr Leah Williams

B.Sc.(Hons) MRes PhD

Behaviour Officer

My background is in ornithology focusing on behavioural ecology and conservation. I joined Chester Zoo in September 2015 in the role of Scientific Officer before moving to focus on animal behaviour research as Behaviour Officer in March 2017\. Prior to working at Chester Zoo I worked for two years as a Conservation Scientist for the RSPB working on seabirds, particularly little terns.

I have a passion for animal behaviour and for my PhD I studied the behavioural ecology of Gouldian finches, focusing on personality traits and leadership behaviour at Liverpool John Moores University. My previous research projects include the impact of blood parasites on the immune response in yellowhammers and the influence of habitat structure on understory forest birds in selectively logged forest in Borneo as part of my Master of Research at the University of Leeds. I studied for my undergraduate degree at the University of Liverpool where I conducted my dissertation on play in two species of macaque at Chester Zoo.

As Behaviour Officer I work closely with Dr Lisa Holmes, Behaviour & Welfare Scientist, the animal curators and keeping staff to help optimise the health and well-being of the animals in our care. I supervise a number of students at undergraduate, Masters and PhD level who are undertaking research with a focus on animal behaviour. I deliver lectures and training for a number of universities focusing on animal behaviour and welfare.

An understanding of the natural world and what's in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfilment.

- Sir David Attenborough

Partners and Collaborators

  • School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University
  • School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester
  • School of Science and the Environment, Manchester Metropolitan University

Key publications

King, A. J., Williams., L. J., Mettke-Hofmann, C. (2015) The effects of social conformity of Gouldian finch personality. Animal Behaviour, 84(1), 159-165

Edwards, D. P., Gilroy, J. J., Woodcock, P., Edwards, F. A., Larsen, T. H., Andrews, D. J. R., Derhé, M. A., Docherty, T. D. S., Hsu, W. W., Mitchell, S. L., Ota, T., Williams, L. J., Laurance, W. F., Hamer, K. C. and Wilcove, D. S. (2014), Land-sharing versus land-sparing logging: reconciling timber extraction with biodiversity conservation. Global Change Biology, 20: 183–191.

Williams, L. J., King, A. J., Mettke-Hofmann., C. (2012) Colourful characters: head colour reflects personality in a social bird, the Gouldian finch. Animal Behaviour, 84(1), 159-165

Sueur, C., King A. J., Conradt, L., Kerth, G., Lusseau, D., Mettke-Hofmann, C., Scaffner, C. M., Williams., L. J., Zinner, D., Aureli, F. (2011) Collective decision-making and fission–fusion dynamics: a conceptual framework, Oikos 120, (11) 1608-1617

Gove, G. Williams, L. J., Beresford, A. E., Roddis, P., Campbell, C., Teuten, E., Langston, R. H. W. & Bradbury, R. B. (2016) Reconciling Biodiversity Conservation and Widespread Deployment of Renewable Energy Technologies in the UK, PLoS ONE, 11(5): e0150956.

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