Dr Leah Williams

Lead Conservation Scientist - Population Biology

  • Qualifications BSc MRes PhD
  • Focus area
  • Location
    At the Zoo
  • Additional Information Member of the BIAZA Research Committee

I am a conservation scientist with a broad range of interests and I lead on the population-level research Chester Zoo is involved in, working across both in-situ and ex-situ projects. The projects I am involved in currently include designing effective post-release monitoring methods of Bermuda skinks and Bermuda snails, using bioacoustics to monitor populations and behaviour, and reproduction and management of Southern cassowary across EAZA Zoos.

My background is in ornithology focusing on behavioural ecology and conservation. My previous work at Chester Zoo focused on animal behaviour and welfare, primarily of birds, lower vertebrates and invertebrates.  Prior to working at Chester Zoo, I was a Conservation Scientist at RSPB working on seabirds. My PhD research focused on personality traits and social behaviour of Gouldian finches at Liverpool John Moores University. My past research projects include the impact of blood parasites on the immune response in yellowhammers, and the influence of selective logging on understory forest birds in Malaysian Borneo as part of my Master of Research at the University of Leeds.

I supervise a number of students at undergraduate, Masters and PhD level who are undertaking research in collaboration with Chester Zoo with a focus on population biology. I also deliver lectures and training for a number of universities and industry bodies.

Key publications

Lewis, R. N., Williams, L. J. & Gilman, R. T. (2020) The uses and implications of avian vocalizations for conservation planning, Conservation Biology, 35(1), 50-63

Finch, K., Williams, L. J. & Holmes, L., (2020) Using longitudinal data to evaluate the behavioural impact of a switch to carcass feeding on an Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica), Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, 8(4), 283-287.

Wilson, L. J., Rendell-Read, S., Brown, C., Candelin, G. W., Cook, H., Hales, S., Lock, L., Newton, S., Norman, S., Samson, L., Slattery, J., Williams, L. J., & Bolton, M. (2021) Insights from colour-ringing little terns across Britain, Ireland and the Isle of Man, British Birds, 114, 97-116

Williams, L. J., Finch, K., Agnew, R. & Holmes, L. (2021) Effects of nearby construction work on the behaviour of Asiatic lions (Panthera leopersica), Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens, 2(1) 66-74.

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.