Dr Tom Matthews DPhil, AFHEA

Dr Tom Matthews

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Senior Research Fellow / Senior Lecturer

Contact details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

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.


  • DPhil – University of Oxford
  • MSc – University of Oxford (Distinction)
  • BSc (Hons) – University of Birmingham (First)
  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


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.


Tom currently has second and fourth year tutorial groups, two dissertation supervision groups, and teaches on the following undergraduate modules:

  • Statistical Methods and Tutorials (Year 1)
  • Statistics and applied GIS (Year 1)
  • Environmental Research Frontiers (Year 1)
  • Ecological Systems (Year 2)
  • Conservation into practice (Year 3)

Postgraduate supervision

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.


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: https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=jLhtK7QAAAAJ&hl=en 

Research Gate profile: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Tom_Matthews5


Other activities

  • Associate Researcher in the Biodiversity Research Group, University of the Azores.
  • Visiting Researcher to the Faculty of Science, University of the Ryukyus, Japan
  • Member of the Global Endemism and GrassPlot research working group
  • Associate Editor of the journals Journal of Biogeography and Frontiers of Biogeography
  • Member of the British Ecological Society, the International Biogeography Society, the Society for Island Biology, and the Royal Geographical Society


Recent publications


Matthews, T, Wayman, JP, Whittaker, RJ, Cardoso, P, Hume, JP, Sayol, F, Proios, K, Martin, TE, Baiser, B, Borges, PAV, Kubota, Y, dos Anjos, L, Tobias, JA, Filipa, S, Si, X, Ding, P, Mendenhall, CD, Sin, YCK, Rheindt, FE, Triantis, KA, Guilhaumon, F, Watson, D, Brotons, L, Battisti, C, Chu, O & Rigal, F 2023, 'A global analysis of avian island diversity–area relationships in the Anthropocene', Ecology Letters. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.14203

Milner, S, Vega, E, Matthews, T, Conn, S & Windsor, FM 2023, 'Long term changes in macroinvertebrate communities across high latitude streams.', Global Change Biology, vol. 29, no. 9, pp. 2466-2477. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.16648

Tobias, JA, Sheard, C, Pigot, AL, Devenish, AJM, Yang, J, Sayol, F, Neate‐clegg, MHC, Alioravainen, N, Weeks, TL, Barber, RA, Walkden, PA, Macgregor, HEA, Jones, SEI, Vincent, C, Phillips, AG, Marples, NM, Montaño‐centellas, FA, Leandro‐silva, V, Claramunt, S, Darski, B, Freeman, BG, Bregman, TP, Cooney, CR, Hughes, EC, Capp, EJR, Varley, ZK, Friedman, NR, Korntheuer, H, Corrales‐vargas, A, Trisos, CH, Weeks, BC, Hanz, DM, Töpfer, T, Bravo, GA, Remeš, V, Nowak, L, Carneiro, LS, Moncada R., AJ, Matysioková, B, Baldassarre, DT, Martínez‐salinas, A, Wolfe, JD, Chapman, PM, Daly, BG, Sorensen, MC, Neu, A, Ford, MA, Mayhew, RJ, Fabio Silveira, L, Kelly, DJ, Annorbah, NND, Pollock, HS, Grabowska‐zhang, AM, Mcentee, JP, Carlos T. Gonzalez, J, Meneses, CG, Muñoz, MC, Powell, LL, Jamie, GA, Matthews, TJ, Johnson, O, Brito, GRR, Zyskowski, K, Crates, R, Harvey, MG, Jurado Zevallos, M, Hosner, PA, Bradfer‐lawrence, T, Maley, JM, Stiles, FG, Lima, HS, Provost, KL, Chibesa, M, Mashao, M, Howard, JT, Mlamba, E, Chua, MAH, Li, B, Gómez, MI, García, NC, Päckert, M, Fuchs, J, Ali, JR, Derryberry, EP, Carlson, ML, Urriza, RC, Brzeski, KE, Prawiradilaga, DM, Rayner, MJ, Miller, ET, Bowie, RCK, Lafontaine, R, Scofield, RP, Lou, Y, Somarathna, L, Lepage, D, Illif, M, Neuschulz, EL, Templin, M, Dehling, DM, Cooper, JC, Pauwels, OSG, Analuddin, K, Fjeldså, J, Seddon, N, Sweet, PR, Declerck, FAJ, Naka, LN, Brawn, JD, Aleixo, A, Böhning‐gaese, K, Rahbek, C, Fritz, SA, Thomas, GH, Schleuning, M & Coulson, T (ed.) 2022, 'AVONET: morphological, ecological and geographical data for all birds', Ecology Letters, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 581-597. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.13898

Wayman, JP, Sadler, JP, Pugh, TAM, Martin, TE, Tobias, JA & Matthews, TJ 2022, 'Assessing taxonomic and functional change in British breeding bird assemblages over time', Global Ecology and Biogeography, vol. 31, no. 5, pp. 925-939. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13468

Triantis, KA, Rigal, F, Whittaker, RJ, Hume, JP, Sheard, C, Poursanidis, D, Rolland, J, Sfenthourakis, S, Matthews, T, Thebaud, C & Tobias, J 2022, 'Deterministic assembly and anthropogenic extinctions drive convergence of island bird communities', Global Ecology and Biogeography, vol. 31, no. 9, pp. 1741-1755. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13556

Ulrich, W, Matthews, TJ, Biurrun, I, Campos, JA, Czortek, P, Dembicz, I, Essl, F, Filibeck, G, Galdo, GPGD, Güler, B, Naqinezhad, A, Török, P & Dengler, J 2022, 'Environmental drivers and spatial scaling of species abundance distributions in Palaearctic grassland vegetation', Ecology, vol. 103, no. 8, e3725, pp. e3725. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.3725

Asuk, SA, Matthews, TJ, Sadler, JP, Pugh, TAM, Ebu, VT, Ifebueme, NM & Kettridge, N 2022, 'Impact of human foraging on tree diversity, composition, and abundance in a tropical rainforest', Biotropica, pp. 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1111/btp.13180

Brush, M, Matthews, T, Borges, P & Harte, J 2022, 'Land use change through the lens of macroecology: insights from Azorean arthropods and the Maximum Entropy Theory of Ecology', Ecography, vol. 2022, no. 8, e06141. https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.06141

Rurangwa, L, Matthews, T, Niyigaba, P, Tobias, J & Whittaker, RJ 2021, 'Assessing tropical forest restoration after fire using birds as indicators: an afrotropical case study', Forest Ecology and Management, vol. 483, 118765. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2020.118765

Mittermeier, JC, Roll, U, Matthews, T, Correia, R & Grenyer, R 2021, 'Birds that are more commonly encountered in the wild attract higher public interest online', Conservation Science and Practice, vol. 3, no. 5, e340. https://doi.org/10.1111/csp2.340

Kusumoto, B, Kubota, Y, Baselga, A, Gómez-Rodríguez, C, Matthews, T, Murphy, DJ & Shiono, T 2021, 'Community dissimilarity of angiosperm trees reveals deep-time diversification across tropical and temperate forests', Journal of Vegetation Science, vol. 32, no. 2, e13017. https://doi.org/10.1111/jvs.13017

Rurangwa, L, Aguirre-Gutiérrez, J, Matthews, T, Niyigaba, P, Wayman, J, Tobias, JA & Whittaker, RJ 2021, 'Effects of land-use change on avian taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic diversity in a tropical montane rainforest', Diversity and Distributions, vol. 27, no. 9, pp. 1732-1746. https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.13364

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Matthews, T, Rigal, F, Proios, K, Triantis, KA & Whittaker, RJ 2021, Explaining variation in island species–area relationship (ISAR) model parameters between different archipelago types: expanding a global model of ISARs. in TJ Matthews, KA Triantis & RJ Whittaker (eds), The species–area relationship: theory and application. Ecology, Biodiveristy and Conservation, Cambridge University Press, pp. 51-77. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108569422.007


Dawson, MN, Correia, R, Li, Q, Matthews, T & Palmeirim, AF 2022, 'Journal of biogeography innovation awards', Journal of Biogeography, vol. 50, no. 1, pp. 41-42. https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.14555

Review article

Matthews, T, Wayman, JP, Cardoso, P, Sayol, F, Hume, JP, Ulrich, W, Tobias, JA, Filipa, S, Thébaud, C, Martin, TE & Triantis, KA 2022, 'Threatened and extinct island endemic birds of the world: distribution, threats and functional diversity', Journal of Biogeography. https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.14474

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