Liza Watson Lehrer, M.S.


Conservation & Science


Urban Wildlife Center


Assistant Director


M.S. – Effects of urbanization on survival rates, anti-predator behavior and movements of woodchucks (Marmota monax), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
B.A. – Zoology, Washington University in St. Louis


Areas of Expertise

  • Urban wildlife ecology
  • Landscape ecology
  • Behavioral ecology
  • Acoustical ecology
  • Urban planning and design


Liza’s interest in wildlife began as a kid while digging through her backyard and looking for bugs and worms to scare her sister. In college, she studied zoology, spent a semester abroad in Australia, and held internships working with wildlife rehabilitation and studying the behavior of captive Mexican wolves.

After earning her degree in zoology, Liza worked as a research intern at Lincoln Park Zoo and later as animal records keeper. It was her work at the zoo, and life in Chicago, that led to her fascination with urban wildlife and her return to graduate school to study how urbanization affects survival, movement, and behavior of an urban-adapter species: the woodchuck.

As assistant director of the Urban Wildlife Institute, Liza assists with strategic planning, coordinates partnerships, oversees wildlife management for the zoo’s Nature Boardwalk, and collaborates with the Learning department. She manages and collects data for several of the institute’s field research projects, including the Biodiversity Monitoring and Bat Monitoring projects, and is the Chicago lead for the Urban Wildlife Information Network.

Liza’s research interests include landscape, behavioral, and acoustical ecology; managing human-wildlife conflict; and the design of wildlife-friendly cities. She is endlessly fascinated by the resiliency and behavioral flexibility of animals, especially those that live in cities.


  • Magle, S. B., Fidino, M., Lehrer, E. W., Gallo, T., Mulligan, M. P., Ríos, M. J., Ahlers, A. A., Angstmann, J., Belaire, A., Dugelby, B., Gramza, A., Hartley, L., MacDougall, B., Ryan, T., Salsbury, C., Sander, H., Schell, C., Simon, K., Onge, S. S., & Drake, D. 2019. Advancing urban wildlife research through a multi-city collaboration. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 17(4), 232–239.
  • Gallo, T., Fidino, M., Lehrer, E. W., & Magle, S. B. 2017. Mammal diversity and metacommunity dynamics in urban green spaces: implications for urban wildlife conservation. Ecological Applications. 27:2330–2341.
  • Gallo, T., Lehrer, E. W., Fidino, M., Kilgour, R. J., Wolff, P. J., & Magle, S. 2017. Need for multiscale planning for conservation of urban bats. Conservation Biology: The Journal of the Society for Conservation Biology.
  • Fidino, M.,  E. W. Lehrer, and S. B. Magle. 2016. Habitat dynamics of the Virginia opossum in a highly urban landscape. American Midland Naturalist 175:155-167.
  • Lehrer, E.W., R.L. Schooley, J.M. Nevis, R.J. Kilgour, P.J. Wolff, and S.B. Magle. 2016. Happily ever after? Fates of translocated nuisance woodchucks in the Chicago metropolitan area. Urban Ecosystems (early online version), 1-15.
  • Magle, S. B., E. W. Lehrer, and M. Fidino. 2016. Urban mesopredator distribution: examining the relative effects of landscape and socioeconomics factors. Animal Conservation 19:163-175.
  • Vernon, M.E., Magle, S.B., Lehrer, E.W., and Bramble, J.E. 2014. Invasive European Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica L.) Association with Mammalian Species Distribution in Natural Areas of the Chicagoland Region, USA. Natural Areas Journal 34(2):134-143.
  • Magle, S.B., Simoni, L.S., Lehrer, E.W., Brown, J.S. 2014. Urban predator–prey association: coyote and deer distributions in the Chicago metropolitan area. Urban Ecosystems 17 (4): 875-891.
  • Lehrer,  E.W., R.L. Schooley, and J.K. Whittington. 2012. Survival and anti-predator behavior of woodchucks across an urban-agricultural landscape. Canadian Journal of Zoology: 90:12-21.
  • Hamer, S., E.W. Lehrer, and S. Magle 2012. Wild birds as sentinels for multiple zoonotic pathogens along an urban to rural gradient in greater Chicago, Illinois. Zoonoses and Public Health.
  • Lehrer, E.W., S.L. Fredebaugh, R.L. Schooley, and N.E. Mateus-Pinilla. 2010. Prevalence of antibodies to Toxoplasma??gondii??in woodchucks across an urban-rural gradient. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 46:977-980.
  • Lehrer, E.W. and R.L. Schooley. 2010. Space use of woodchucks across an urbanization gradient within an agricultural landscape. Journal of??Mammalogy??91:1342-1349.
  • Lehrer, E.W., R.L. Schooley, and J.K. Whittington. Survival and anti-predator behavior of woodchucks across an urban-agricultural landscape. In press, Canadian Journal of Zoology.