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Teaching Staff

Professor EVANS, Matthew R

Professor EVANS, Matthew R

Professor, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, HKU

BSc (Bristol); PhD (Cambridge)

  • 2299 0803
  • G/F, Chong Yuet Ming Physics Building

Brief Biography

After receiving his PhD from Cambridge in 1991, Professor Evans worked at University of Oxford until 1994 as the Ornithology Demonstrator in the Zoology Department.

He got his first permanent post in Stirling University and remained there until 2003. During his time at Stirling he was the director of research. He moved to University of Exeter’s Cornwall Campus to start the Centre for Ecology and Conservation, which he led until 2007. Professor Evans then took up the post of Campus Provost before moving to London to become head of the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary, University of London in 2011. In 2016 he moved to Hong Kong as Dean of the Faculty of Science, The University of Hong Kong.


Research interests

Professor Evans has wide research interests in ecology, behaviour and conservation. His main interest at present is how we will predict the effects of environmental change on the natural world.

What makes climate change one of the 21st century’s priority issues is its impact, rather than any direct change in climate. There is an urgent need to predict the nature and scale of these impacts on the biological world and currently we do not have the tools and approaches to undertake this task.

His earlier work was much more behavioural and he continues to conduct work in the field of behavioural ecology, most notably on swallows. He also supervises work in the broad area of conservation, typically on birds. His research has taken him all around the world and he has run projects in many countries, having started with his PhD work in Kenya.


Current research

Professor Evans is working on large-scale computer models of ecosystems that will allow the future state of those systems be projected under different conditions – such as (but not exclusively) climate change. He believes that we need realistic models that are capable of making predictions which can be tested. Such models would have utility in aiding understanding of the likely future state of ecosystems and what interventions might alter the way in which an ecosystem might develop. These models are heavily parameterised and have large demands for data which are typically drawn from long-term study sites.


Research team

Dr L. Wang – Research Officer


Publications and news

2013 – present

1)  Moustakas, A., Evans, M.R., Daliakopoulos, I.N. & Markonis, Y. (2018). Abrupt events and population synchrony in the dynamics of Bovine Tuberculosis. Nature Communications 9:2821 doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04915-0

2)  Liu, Y., Scordato, E.S.C., Safran, R. & Evans M.R. (2018) Ventral colour, not streamer length, is associated with seasonal reproductive performance in a Chinese population of Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica gutturalis). Journal of Ornithology doi: 10.1007/s10336-018-1555-y

3)  Evans, M.R. & Moustakas, A. (2017) Plasticity in foraging behaviour as a possible response to climate change. Ecological Informatics doi: 10.1016/j.ecoinf.2017.08.001

4)  Zhang, F., Zhang, H., Evans, M.R. & Huang, T. (2017) Vegetation patterns generated by a wind driven sand-vegetation system in arid and semi-arid areas. Ecological Complexity 31: 21-33 doi:org/10.1016/j.ecocom.2017.02.005

5)  Moustakas, A. & Evans, M.R. (2016) A big-data spatial, temporal and network analysis of bovine tuberculosis between wildlife (badgers) and cattle. Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment doi:10.1007/s00477-016-1311-x

6)  Evans, M.R., & Moustakas, A. (2016) A comparison between data requirements and availability for calibrating predictive ecological models for lowland UK woodlands: learning new tricks from old trees. Ecology and Evolution doi:10.1002/ece3.2217

7)  Vaquero-Alba, I. McGowan, A., Pincheira-Donso, D., Evans, M.R., & Dall, S.R.X. (2016) A quantitative analysis of objective feather color assessment: Measurements in the laboaratory do not reflect true plumage color. The Auk 133: 325-337 doi: 10.1642/AUK-16-19.1

8)  Moustakas, A., & Evans, M.R. (2015) Regional and temporal characteristics of bovine tuberculosis of cattle in Great Britain. Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment 29: 623-635 doi: 10.1007/s00477-015-1140-3

9)  McDonald, J.L., MacLean, M., Evans, M.R., & Hodgson, D.J. (2015) Reconciling actual and perceived rates of predation by domestic cats. Ecology and Evolution doi: 10.1002/ece3.1553

10)   Moustakas, A., & Evans, M.R. (2015) Effects of growth rate, size, and light availability on tree survival across life stages: a demographic analysis accounting for missing values. BMC Ecology 15: 6 doi: 10.1186/s12898-015-0038-8

11)   Evans, M.R., Moustakas, A., Carey, G., Malhi, Y., Butt, N., Benham, S., Pallett, D., & Schäfer, S. (2015). Allometry and growth of eight tree taxa in United Kingdom woodlands. Scientific Data 2:150006 doi: 10.1038/sdata.2015.6

12)   Moustakas, A., & Evans, M.R. (2015). Coupling models of cattle and farms with models of badgers for predicting the dynamics of bovine tuberculosis (TB). Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment 29: 623-635 doi: 10.1007/s00477-014-1016-y

13)   Evans, M.R., Benton, T.G., Grimm, V., Lessells, C.M., O’Malley, M.A., Moustakas, A., & Weisberg, M. (2014). Data availability and model complexity, generality and utility: A reply to Lonergan. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 29: 302-303 doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2014.03.004

14)   Evans, M.R., Bithell, M., Cornell, S.J., Dall, S.R.X., Díaz, S., Emmott, S., Ernande, B., Grimm, V., Hodgson, D.J., Lewis, S.L., Mace, G.M., Morecroft, M., Moustakas, A., Murphy, E., Newbold, T., Norris, K.J., Petchey, O., Smith, M., Travis, J.M.J., & Benton, T.G. (2013). Predictive Systems Ecology. Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B. 280: 20131452 doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.1452

15)   Bonato, M., Evans, M.R., Hasselquist, D., Sherley, R.B., Cloete, S.W.P., & Cherry, M.I. (2013). Ostrich chick humoral immune responses and growth rate are predicted by parental immune responses and paternal coloration. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 67: 1891-1901. doi: 10.1007/s00265-013-1597-3

16)   Moustakas, A., & Evans, M.R. (2013). Integrating ecological modelling with evolution: accommodating phenotypic changes in agent based models. PLoS ONE 8(8): e71125. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071125

17)   Pickett, S.R.A., Weber, S.B., McGraw, K.J., Norris, K.J., & Evans, M.R. (2013). Environmental and parental influences on offspring health and growth in great tits (Parus major). PLoS One 8(7): e69695. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069695

18)   Evans, M.R., Grimm, V., Johst, K., Knuuttila, T., de Langhe, R., Lessells, C.M., Merz, M., O’Malley, M.A., Orzack, S.H., Weisberg, M., Wilkinson, D.J., Wolkenhauer,O, & Benton, T.G. (2013) Do simple models lead to generality in ecology? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 28:578-583. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2013.05.022


Awards and honours

  • Senior fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology