Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Qualified and motivated graduate students with similar research interests are welcome to email me. In particular, I am looking for PhD students interested in macroecology/biogeography questions related to different types of species diversity: taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic. I am also interested in supervising students with interests in island biogeography, functional island biogeography, and the study of global environmental change (e.g. habitat loss, climate change, invasive species) on islands.

Current Doctoral Researchers

Lead supervisor

Yating Song (2018 – present) The impact of urbanisation on carnivore species

Joseph Wayman (2018 – present) Holistic approach to global environmental change research

Eva Benavides-Ríos (2021 – present) Island macroecology and the conservation of island biodiversity

Maria Jørgensen (2022 - present) Island biogeography of avian extinctions and introductions

Osanna Chu (2023 - present) Predicting functional diversity loss across islands for plants and birds


Imogen Mansfield (2018 – present) Indicators of air pollution-derived stress in birds

Sijeh Asuk (2018 – present) Phenological responses of food producing forest trees to climate change

Aaron Bhambra (2021 - present) Habitat fragmentation and heathland pollinators

Greg Eckhartt (2022 - present) Do wooded networks enhance bird movement in urban areas?

Estelle Darko (2022 - present) Forest Diversity, Dynamics and Resilience in a changing world

Rachel Mailes (2023 - present) Tropical foreast biodiversity and carbon sequestration

Completed students

Thomas Aspin (2016 – 2018) Drought impacts on stream ecosystems
Eva Loza Vega (2017 – 2020) Long term changes in macroinvertebrate communities in streams of Denali National Park, Alaska
Zining Whang (2017 – 2020) Drought impacts on stream ecosystems.
Victoria Pattison-Willits (2019 – 2023) Avian productivity, urbanization and climatic extremes
Ye Li (2017 – 2023) The island biogeography of urban ecosystems.


Research activity per year

Personal profile


  • DPhil – University of Oxford (no corrections)
  • MSc – University of Oxford (Distinction)
  • BSc (Hons) – University of Birmingham (First)
  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Member of the International Biogeography Society, the Island Biology Society, the British Ecological Society, and the Royal Geographical Society

Research interests

Tom Matthews is a Senior Research Fellow who researches global environmental change issues using macroecological, macroevolutionary and biogeographical approaches. He applies a mixture of theoretical and empirical methods to investigate various macroecological topics. He has a keen interest in island systems and birds, and has published two recent books on species–area relationships (Cambridge Uni. Press) and island biogeography (Oxford Uni. Press).

His research also aims to provide information of use in biodiversity conservation in island systems and fragmented landscapes, and a number of his papers are focused on conservation biogeography issues. His most recent project is focused on the impact of human-driven species extinctions and introductions on island ecosystem functioning and functional diversity.

Google scholar profile: 

Research Gate profile:



Tom completed his BSc at the University of Birmingham in 2009, before undertaking a year as a researcher at Birmingham focusing on urban ecology under the supervision of Professor Jon Sadler. He then progressed to study an MSc and DPhil at Oxford University under the supervision of Professor Rob Whittaker. His DPhil was entitled: 'analysing, modelling and mitigating the impact of habitat destruction and fragmentation on species diversity: a macroecological perspective.' During his time at Oxford he won numerous awards for his research, including a NERC scholarship, two Royal Geographical Society Awards, and the University of Oxford’s Vice Chancellor’s Award. He joined the University of Birmingham as a Birmingham Fellow in 2016 and currently leads a research group focused on a range of macroecological, biogeographical and conservation topics. He has published over 80 journal articles, two books and three software packages in these fields.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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