Tom Matthews

Colleges, School and Institutes


  • 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 Birmingham 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, including species-area relationships and species abundance distributions. In particular, his research has aimed to discern how diversity (taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic) is affected by environmental change, with a particular focus on habitat loss and fragmentation and the structure of ecological communities in fragmented landscapes. He has a keen interest in island systems, and in particular the application of island theory to habitat island systems.

His research also aims to provide information of use in biodiversity conservation in fragmented landscapes and island systems, and a number of his papers are focused on conservation biogeography issues. Recently, he has started to focus 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. During this time he also published over twenty peer-reviewed journal articles.

Willingness to take 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

Ye Li (2017 – present) The island biogeography of urban ecosystems.

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


Victoria Pattison-Willits (2019 – present) Avian productivity, urbanization and climatic extremes

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

Lavinia Georgescu (2019 – present) The impact of drought on tree mortality

Jordan Johnston (2020 – present) Forest recovery through the lens of volcanic disturbances

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.