About me

I am an applied conservation biologist, with broad interests in securing populations of threatened species, and achieving practical conservation solutions. My career began with a BSc (Hons) in Zoology at the University of Glasgow in 2006. After working on conservation projects on different parts of the globe, I completed an MSc in Conservation & Biodiversity in 2011 at the University of Exeter, Cornwall. I then worked as a researcher at BirdLife International in Cambridge, before returning to the University of Exeter in 2013 to complete a PhD at on the conservation and ecology of wetland birds in Africa. This focused on effective conservation planning in fragmented landscapes, and identifying realistic solutions for conservation that work for biodiversity and local livelihoods. I used a group of birds endemic to papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) swamps in East and Central Africa as a model system, with challenging fieldwork in the swamps of south-west Uganda.


I am a Principal Research Officer in the Conservation Evidence Department, focusing on species recovery projects. Most of my work is centred on translocation science, using mark-recapture analysis and population modelling to assess the effectiveness of translocation techniques. I am currently working on the effectiveness of headstarting to assist with the recovery of the breeding population of black-tailed godwits (Limosa limosa limosa) in the east of England as part of Project Godwit. I am also determining the success of the reintroduction of the Eurasian crane (Grus grus) to Somerset, UK.


  • Fieldwork: bird surveying, habitat sampling and mapping, bird handling and ringing, nest monitoring, behavioural observation, distance sampling, camera traps
  • Analytical skills: proficient in R for data analysis, manipulation and handling, and experienced in ArcGIS, DISTANCE, and MARK software
  • Communication: delivered presentations at a range of international scientific conferences, participated in various outreach activities, record of writing for popular science and peer-reviewed journals, member of the British Ornithologists’ Union (BOU) Engagement Committee, and trustee for the African Bird Club


For a full list of publications see my profile on Google Scholar and ResearchGate:

Donaldson, L., Bennie J. J., Wilson R. J., and Maclean I. M. D. (2021) Designing effective protected area networks for multiple species. Biological Conservation 258, 109125.

Laidlaw, R.A., Smart, J., Ewing, H., Franks, S.E., Belting, H., Donaldson, L., Hilton, G.M., Hiscock, N., Hoodless, A., Hughes, B., Jarrett, N.S., Kentie, R., Kleyheeg, E., Lee, R., Roodbergen, M., Scott, D.M., Short, M.J., Syroechovskiy, E.E, Teunissen, W., Ward, H., White, G. & Gill, J.A. (2021) Predator management for breeding waders: a review of current evidence and priority knowledge gaps. Wader Study 128(1), 44-55.

Donaldson, L., Bennie J. J., Wilson R. J., and Maclean I. M. D. (2019) Quantifying resistance and resilience to local extinction for conservation prioritization. Ecological Applications 29(8):e01989. 10.1002/eap.1989

Donaldson, L., Wilson, RJ. & Maclean, IMD (2017) Old concepts, new challenges: adapting landscape-scale conservation to the twenty-first century. Biodiversity & Conservation 26(3), 527-552.

Donaldson, L., Woodhead, AJ., Wilson, RJ. & Maclean, IMD (2016) Subsistence use of papyrus is compatible with wetland bird conservation. Biological Conservation 201, 414-422.