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Joseph Leese, Ph.D.


Joseph Leese
Campbell Hall 105

Dr. Joseph Leese is a behavioral ecologist and alum of DeSales University. After receiving his BS in biology from DSU in 2006, he earned his Ph.D. in integrative biology from Lehigh University in 2011, and rejoined DeSales as a faculty member in 2012. He was promoted to the role of Professor in 2023. Dr. Leese’s research interests lie in understanding the ecological and evolutionary forces that shape how and why animals behave the way they do. Dr. Leese explores this broad area of study using a variety of experimental approaches in both field and laboratory settings. He has participated in collaborative projects in locations throughout the Caribbean, Costa Rica, and southwest and mid-west regions of the U.S., as well as in nearby PA state parks. Using primarily fish as model systems, his research has addressed questions concerning population dynamics, sexual selection and mate choice, territoriality, behavioral syndromes, and conservation biology. His work has been published in a variety of peer-reviewed journals, including Animal Behaviour, Behavioral Ecology, Biological Conservation, and Biology Letters.

Dr. Leese and his research team have presented their findings at regional, national, and international scientific meetings, including the annual Lehigh Valley Ecology and Evolution Symposium and meetings of the Animal Behavior Society. He is a member of The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), The International Society of Behavioral Ecology (ISBE), and the Animal Behavior Society (ABS). 

More information about Dr. Leese’s research

At DeSales, Dr. Leese teaches introductory level biology courses and upper level courses in Animal Behavior and Behavioral Endocrinology. Outside of the lab, Dr. Leese enjoys all types of outdoor activities, especially camping, kayaking, running, and disc golf.

Select Publications

Leese, J.M., McMahon, J. & Colosi, J.C. (2021) “Effects of wastewater treatment plant effluent in a receiving stream on reproductive behavior of fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas).” Fishes 6(2).

Paciorek, T., & Leese, J.M. (2020) “Behavioral and endocrine alterations to partner interactions and offspring care during periods of conflict.” Integrative Organismal Biology 2(1): 1-16.

Marlin, T., Snekser, J.L., & Leese, J.M. (2019) “Juvenile convict cichlids shoaling decisions in relation to shoal size and age.” Ethology 125(7): 485-491.

Sorensen, P.W., Rue, M.C.P., Leese, J.M., Ghosal, R. & Lim, H. (2019) “A blend of F prostaglandins functions as an attractive sex pheromone in silver carp. Fishes 4(2): 27-32.

Weimann, S.R., Black, A.N., Leese, J.M., Richter, M.L., Itzkowitz, M. & Burger, R.M. (2017) “Territorial vocalization in sympatric damselfish: acoustic characteristics and intruder discrimination.” Bioacoustics 27(1): 87-102.

Black, A., Imhoff, V.E., Leese, J.M., Weimann, S.R., Gumm, J.M., Richter, M. & Itzkowitz, M. (2014) “Attack intensity by two species of territorial damselfish (Pomacentridae) as estimates of competitive overlap with two species of wrasse (Labridae).” Journal of Ethology 32: 63-68.

Leese, J.M. (2012) “Sex differences in the function of pair bonding in the monogamous convict cichlid.” Animal Behaviour 83(5): 1187-1193.