• Matt is a conservation biologist relying on flagship species to advance conservation and ecology research in the West and Central African tropical forests and wetlands. His applied species ecology and evolution research programs are focused on crocodilians, pangolins, and forest-dwelling tortoises, for which he employs tools ranging from molecular systematics and phylogeography, VHF and GPS telemetry, environmental (e)DNA, and distribution modeling to better understand how these species are distributed across the landscape and how they select resources like habitat and prey. Among other things, his research has resulted in the recognition of 3 new crocodile species in Africa and a better understanding of the processes shaping their distribution, population structure, and abundance. This enables him to implement applied conservation work to ensure the future of these species populations, including conservation breeding and reintroductions, reinforcement of local national parks and wildlife management authority capacity, and training African graduate students. Recently his work is expanding into the policy domain, where Matt works with the IUCN to guide mechanisms for species trade through CITES. Matt is a Steering Committee member of the IUCN/SSC Crocodile Specialist Group, where he chairs the West and Central Africa region, sits on the scientific advisory council for Cote d'Ivoire's national parks service, and he was recently named a National Geographic Explorer.

selected scholarly works & creative activities

full name

  • Matthew Shirley