Chief Technician
Molecular techniques
Contact details

Institute of Zoology
Zoological Society of London
Regent's Park
United Kingdom

Tel: 020 7449 6635

Dada Gottelli's main interest is the use of molecular genetics in conjunction with behavioral and ecological data to address questions regarding mammals’ conservation.

Within her main interest, Dada is particularly interested in reproductive success and mate choice. Among others, she has been involved in field and genetic research of freshwater otters in Argentina, spotted hyenas in Kenya, Ethiopian wolves, Serengeti’ and Kalahari’ cheetahs, southern African lions, and Namibia baboons. It was her work with the Ethiopian wolf that brought her to the Institute with her first genetic project.

The Ethiopian wolf is one of the most endangered canids in the world with no more than 500 individuals found in six isolated areas of the Ethiopian highlands. Ethiopian wolf populations are declining due to habitat loss and conflict with humans and their domestic dogs emphasising the urgent need for its conservation. Captive breeding programs, re-introduction and re-location of animals have been proposed therefore it is imperative a proper understanding of the species' genetic background before any management program takes place. The Ethiopian Wolf genetic project is conducted in collaboration with Claudio Sillero-Zubiri and Jorgelina Marino at Oxford University.

Since 2000, Dada has carried out genetics projects to investigate the mating strategies of cheetahs in the Serengeti NP (Tanzania) and more recently in the Kalahari (South Africa). This work involves the use of non-invasive sampling, microsatellites and sex determination markers to address paternity, sex bias and relatedness. These projects are done in collaboration with Sarah Durant (ZSL) and Gus Mills (South African National Parks).

Professional history
  • 2005–Present: IoZ Chief Technician. Research Projects: Mating strategies of cheetahs in Kgalagadi (South Africa); Paternity and male relatedness in the Serengeti cheetah population; Genetic structure of Ethiopian Wolf populations.
  • 1993–2005: IoZ Research Technician. Research Projects: Isolation and characterization of Malic Enzyme-2 locus in Atlantic Salmon; Isolation and characterization of two olfactory receptors in Atlantic Salmon; A molecular analysis of population structure across the European range of the pipistrellus bat (in collaboration with Prof. P. Racey, Dept of Zoology, University of Aberdeen); Conservation of Bustards: Balancing Cultural, Economic, Ecological and Genetic Issues; Genetic distinctiveness of the Scottish Wildcat and its hybridization with domestic cats (in collaboration with Dr.D.Balhary of the Scottish Natural Heritage).
  • 1992–1993: Study of genetic diversity and paternity in Ethiopian wolf. DNA fingerprinting and DNA microsatellite. In collaboration with Dr Robert K. Wayne.
  • May–Jun 1992: Research Assistant. Dr Claudio Sillero-Zubiri. Wildlife Conservation Research Unit. Zoology Department, Oxford.
  • 1988–1992: Study on the ecology, behaviour and conservation of Ethiopian wolf Canis simensis in the Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia. Wildlife Conservation International/NYZS Research Fellow.
  • 1986–1987: Study on the ecology of Spotted Hyaena Crocuta crocuta in a forest habitat, Aberdare National Park, Kenya. Funded by African Fund for Endangered Wildlife and Sigma Xi Grant in-Aid-of Research.
  • 1978–1984: Licenciatura en Biologia. La Plata University, Department of Natural Sciences 13 Basic Science and 12 Zoology courses.

Nichols, S., Ewan, J., Gottelli, D., Grueber, C., Santure, A., Trask, A., Brekke, P. (2024) Genetic rescue attempt in a small, inbred population of a wild endangered passerine. Biological Conservation BIOCON-D-23-01032R2 (in press)

Mutti, G., Oteo-Garcia, G., Caldon, M., Ferreira da Silva, M.J., Coowlishaw, G., Gottelli, D., Huchard, E., Carter, A., Martinez, F., Raveane, A and Capelli, C. (2023). Assessing the recovery of Y chromosome microsatellites with population genomic data using Papio and Theropithecus genomes. Scientific Reports vol 13, article number 13839.

Dures, S., Savolainen, V., Carbone, C., and Gottelli, D., (2019). A century of decline: Loss of genetic diversity in a southern Africa lion-conservation stronghold. Biodiversity Research. DOI10.1111/ddi12905

Mills, G., Mills, M., Gottelli, D., (2017) Morphometrics, demographics and genetic viability. In Kalahari Cheetahs, adaptation to an arid region (Mills & Mills) pp 15-30. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Bryant, J., Gottelli, D., Zeng, X., Hong, X., Chan, B., Fellowes, J., Xhang, Y., Geissmann, T., and Turvey, S.T. (2016). Assessing current genetic status of the Hainan gibbon using historical and demographic baselines: implications for conservation management of species of extreme rarity. Molecular Ecology 25: 3540-3556

Marino, J., Sillero-Zubiri, C., Gottelli, D., Johnson, P.J. and Macdonald, D.W. (2013) The fall and rise of Ethiopian wolves: lessons for conservation of long-lived, social predators. Animal Conservation 16: 621–632.

Gottelli, D., Sillero-Zubiri, C., Marino, J., Funk, S.M. and Wang, J. (2013) Genetic structure and patterns of gene flow among populations of the endangered Ethiopian wolf. Animal Conservation 16: 234–247.

Pickles, R.S.A., Groombridge, J.J., Zambrana Rojas, V.D., Van Damme, P., Gottelli, D., Ariani, C. and Jordan, W.C. (2012) Genetic diversity and population structure in the endangered giant otter, Pteronura brasiliensisConservation Genetics 13(1): 235–245. DOI: 10.1007/s10592-011-0279-9.

Brown, R.M., Nichols, R.A., Faulkes, C.G., Jones, C.G., Bugoni, L., Gottelli, D. and Jordan, W.C. (2010) Range expansion and hybridization in Round Island petrels (Pterodroma spp.): evidence from microsatellite genotypes. Molecular Ecology 15: 3157–3170.

Busby, G., Gottelli, D., Wacher, T., Marker L., Belbachir, F., De Smet, K., Belghoul M. and Durant S.M. (2009) Genetic analysis of scat reveals leopard Panthera pardus and cheetah Acinonyx jubatus in southern Algeria. Oryx 43(3): 412–415.

Gottelli, D., Wang, J., Bashir, S. and Durant, S.M. (2007) Genetic analysis reveals promiscuity among female cheetahs. Proc. R. Soc. B. 274: 1993–2001.

Racey, P.A., Barratt, E.M., Burland, T.M., Deaville, R., Gottelli, D., Jones, G. and Piertney, S.B. (2007) Microsatellite DNA polymorphism confirms reproductive isolation and reveals differences in population genetic structure of cryptic pipistrelle bat species. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 90: 539–550.

Dukes, J.P., Deaville, R., Gottelli, D., Neigel, J.E., Bruford, M.W. and Jordan, W.C. (2006) Isolation and characterisation of main olfactory and vomeronasal receptor gene families from the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)Gene 371: 257–267.

Gottelli, D., Marino, J., Sillero-Zubiri, C. and Funk, S.M. (2004) The effect of the last glacial age on speciation and population structure of the endangered Ethiopian wolf, (Canis simensis)Molecular Ecology 13: 2275–2286.

Sillero-Zubiri, C,J., Marino, Gottelli, D. and Macdonald, D.W. (2004) Afroalpine ecology, solitary foraging and intense sociality amongst Ethiopian wolves. In Canid Biology and Conservation. Macdonald, D.W. and Sillero-Zubiri, C. (Eds), pp 311-323. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Beaumont, M., Barratt, E.M., Gottelli, D., Kitchener, A.C., Daniels, M.J., Pritchard, J.K. and Bruford, M.W. (2001) Genetic diversity and introgression in the Scottish wildcat. Molecular Ecology 10: 319–336.

Wayne, R.W. and Gottelli, D. (1997) Systematics, population genetics and genetic management of the Ethiopian wolf. In The Ethipian Wolf. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. Sillero-Zubiri, C. and Macdonald, D.W. (Eds). The World Conservation Union. Gland, Switzerland.

Sillero-Zubiri, C., Gottelli, D. and Macdonald, D.W. (1996) Male philopatry, extra-pack copulations and inbreeding avoidance in Ethiopian wolves Canis simensis. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology 38: 331–340.

Sillero-Zubiri, C. and Gottelli, D. (1995) Spatial organization in the Ethiopian wolf Canis simensis: large packs and small stable home ranges. Journal of Zoology 237: 65–81.

Sillero-Zubiri, C. and Gottelli, D. (1995) Diet and feeding behaviour of Ethiopian wolves Canis simensis. Journal of Mammalogy 76: 531–541.

Sillero-Zubiri, C. and Gottelli, D. (1994) Canis simensis. Mammalian Species 385: 1–6.

Sillero-Zubiri, C., Gottelli, D. and Wayne, R.K. (1994) Hybridization of the Ethiopian wolf. Canid News 2: 33–34.

Gottelli, D., Sillero-Zubiri, C., Applebaum, G.D., Girman, D., Roy, M., Garcia-Moreno, J., Ostrander, E. and Wayne, R.K. (1994) Molecular genetics of the most endangered canid: the Ethiopian wolf, Canis simensis. Molecular Ecology 3: 301–312.

Sillero-Zubiri, C. and Gottelli, D. (1993) The plight of the Ethiopian wolf. Canid News 1: 10–11.

Mebatsion, T., Sillero-Zubiri, C., Gottelli, D. and Cox, J.H (1992) Detection of rabies antibodies by ELISA and RFFIT in unvaccinated dogs and in the endangered Simien Jackal (Canis simensis) of Ethiopia. Journal of Veterinary Medicine B 39: 233–235.

Sillero-Zubiri, C. and Gottelli, D. (1992). Population ecology of spotted hyaena in an equatorial mountain forest. Journal of African Ecology 30: 292–300.

Sillero-Zubiri, C. and Gottelli, D. (1992) Feeding ecology of spotted hyaena (Mammalia: Crocuta crocuta) in a mountain forest habitat. Journal of African Zoology 106: 169–176.

Gottelli, D. and Sillero-Zubiri, C. (1992) The Ethiopian wolf - an endangered endemic canid. Oryx 26: 205–214.

Sillero-Zubiri, C. and Gottelli, D. (1991) Conservation of the endemic "Ky Kebero" (Canis simensis). Walia 13: 35–46.

Sillero-Zubiri, C. and Gottelli, D. (1991) Aberdare rhinos: predation versus poaching. Pachyderm 14: 37–38.

Chehebar, C., Gallur, A., Giannico, G., Gottelli, D. and Yorio, P. (1986) A survey of the Southern river otter Lutra provocax, in Lanin, Puelo and Los Alerces National Parks and evaluation of its conservation status. Biological Conservation 38: 293–304.

  • Member Ethiopian Wolf Working Group, IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group
  • Member Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme (EWCP)
Talks and interviews
  • ZSL Writers Talks 2014. African Hunting dogs talk 
  • IUCN Red List 50 year anniversary. Short film on ZSL involvement on the conservation genetics of the Ethiopian wolf. 
  • BBC Look East. 2006. Short film on ZSL involvement on cheetah conservation genetics