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Head of the Lab

Leszek Karczmarski, Ph.D.

Associate Professor:  School of Biological Sciences

The Swire Institute of Marine Science

The University of Hong Kong

Director:  Cetacea Research Institute

Email: leszek(AT)


Leszek Karczmarski 2019.jpg

My research interests encompass several broad concepts, from individual behaviour to social structure, to population dynamics and applied ecology.  Broad interests require extensive knowledge, which requires a multi-discipline collaboration with a number of colleagues in relevant fields, including geneticists, eco-physiologists, GIS specialists, computer programmers and computation ecologists.  I enjoy working within a team environment and see collaborative efforts as a vehicle of achievements in today's science.  


My work has focused on understanding the mechanism underlying animal behaviour and how environmental variability, both natural and anthropogenic, and intrinsic factors influence population processes, aggregation patterns and sociality.  My emphasis is on the ecology of group living.  Using information on individually recognisable animals along with data on habitat use, movement, ecology, behaviour and genetics, I explore social organization of my target species from a broader comparative ecology perspective.  I believe such an approach can help unravel some of the underlying structure and basic ecological and evolutionary processes that shape mammalian social systems.


From an applied ecology perspective, such an approach provides a means for understanding how environmental pressures, either natural or human-induced, influence the daily lives of free-ranging animals.  Several of my past and present research projects address questions related to conservation and management of coastal and semi-pelagic dolphins, contributing to issues such as the principles of the design and management of marine protected areas, designation of conservation and management units, anthropogenic impacts, and viability assessments.

© Leszek Karczmarski

© Leszek Karczmarski

© Leszek Karczmarski

© Leszek Karczmarski

Research Interests


  • Mammalian Population Ecology:  Processes that determine population structure, geographic fidelity, spatiotemporal dynamics and habitat relationships.


  • Cetacean Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology:  Behavioural processes that shape intra- and inter-group dynamics and social structure; how they relate to environmental factors and influence broader population structure.


  • Comparative Socio-Ecology:  Odontocete social strategies and socio-behavioural complexity; how they evolved and how they compare to other known mammalian systems. Comparative socio-ecology of group living mammals. 


  • Delphinid Conservation Ecology:  Ecological and socio-demographic processes that determine population viability; application of empirical studies of population ecology in the development of management strategies. 


  • Spatio-Behavioural Approaches to Conservation:  How anthropogenic pressures influence socio-spatial dynamics and behavioural processes of individuals/populations; mitigation strategies to minimize the negative effects of ecological disturbance.   


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