Joseph Tobias

Joseph Tobias

Reader in Biodiversity & Ecosystems

I graduated with a BSc in Zoology from Cardiff University (1992) and a PhD from Cambridge University (1996), where I studied territoriality and communication in European Robins (supervised by Nick Davies). After finishing my PhD, I spent several years recovering as a conservationist and biodiversity consultant working for international NGOs, including Wildlife Conservation Society, BirdLife International and IUCN. Returning to academia after a gap-decade, I started out as a post-doc, then (from 2008) Lecturer in Evolutionary Ecology at Oxford University. My group moved to Imperial College London in 2015.

Imperial webpage | Google scholar

Teaching & supervising

I currently convene a third-year undergraduate course on Biodiversity and Conservation Biology at the South Kensington campus and teach masters modules on Biodiversity and Community Ecology at Silwood Park.

I also supervise a range of research projects for undergraduate and post-graduate students. Some of these projects are field-based but most are desk-based and lockdown-proof. Please see our ‘join us’ page for more information.

Join us

Current members


PhD students

Rob Barber

Rob Barber

Rob is using phylogenetic methods to explore evolutionary relationships in birds, viewed at a global scale. In particular, he is interested in the factors driving the evolution of traits related to signalling, and the implications for diversification.

Tom Weeks

Tom Weeks

Tom is using global datasets to understand how environmental change affects the structure and composition of avian assemblages with respect to functional traits, and the implications for ecosystem function.

Cecilia Montauban

Cecilia Montauban

Cecilia is using a combination of genetic metabarcoding, bioacoustics and morphological trait data to study the effects of forest loss and agricultural intensification on bat communities and their contribution to ecosystem function in Ghana and Zambia

Ariane Dellavalle

Ariane Dellavalle

Ariane is investigating the impacts of land use and climate change on bird communities and the ecosystem services they provide, focusing on pest control services provided by insectivorous birds in Sub-Saharan small-hold farms as well as modelling the link between functional traits and ecosystem function at global scales

Alex Rabeau

Alex Rabeau

Alex is using trait-based approaches and citizen-science data to understand and predict how avian ecological functions respond to climate change, with a focus on trophic interaction networks and the relationship between functional traits and climatic niches.

Jingyi Yang

Jingyi Yang

Jingyi is using phylogenetic models to study the macroevolution of avian functional traits and social signals, with a focus on understanding patterns of morphological diversification over large spatial and temporal scales

Patrick Walkden

Patrick Walkden

Patrick is developing and applying biodiversity metrics based on avian functional diversity to monitor and predict responses of ecosystems to land-use change. Primary supervisor: Andy Purvis, NHM

Eloise Hunt

Eloise Hunt

Eloise is investigating the drivers of fossil bird skull evolution using 3D geometric morphometric methods. In particular she is interested in identifying the factors influencing the evolution of Galloanserae (ducks, chickens, and relatives). Primary supervisor: Anjali Goswami, NHM

Kerry Smith

Kerry Smith

Kerry is evaluating the impact of human activity on the functional diversity of mammals and birds worldwide. A key goal is to identify which human-induced changes pose threats to functional diversity and associated ecosystem function. Primary supervisor: Manuela Gonzalez-Suarez, Reading University 

Former members

Post-docs

  • Adam Devenish (now a Conservation Scientist with Royal Society for Protection of Birds)
  • Jack Hatfield (now a post-doc at University of York)
  • Uri Roll (now Senior Lecturer at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)
  • Anthony Waldron (now research fellow at University of Cambridge)
  • Alex Pigot (now Royal Society Research Fellow at University College London)
  • Alex Kirschel (now Assistant Professor at University of Cyprus)

PhD

  • Lisbeth Hordley (2022; Ecological Modeller at Butterfly Conservation)
  • Henrike Schulte-to-Buhne (2022; now a researcher at Zoological Society of London)
  • Rikki Gumbs (2020; co-supervised with James Rosindell)
  • Samuel Jones (2019; co-supervised with Steve Portugal in RHUL)
  • Rebekah Mayhew (2018; co-supervised with Daisy Dent in Stirling University)
  • Eleanor Bath (2016; now Lecturer in Animal Behaviour at Oxford University)
  • Catherine Sheard (2016; now post-doc in Tim Benton’s lab at Bristol University)
  • Christopher Cooney (2015; now Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow, University of Sheffield)
  • Tom Bregman (2014; now Head of Corporate Engagement for Future-Fit Foundation )
  • Christopher Trisos (2014; now Senior Research Fellow at the African Climate and Development Initiative, Cape Town, South Africa).
  • Benjamin Daly (2013; now in corporate sector)
  • Juan-Carlos Gonzalez (2013; currently Professor of Zoology at Institute of Biological Sciences, University of the Philippines Los Banos)
  • Claire Salisbury (2012; now a freelance science writer)

MSc

  • Katie O’Brien (accepted to PhD programme in Bath University)
  • Lois Nolan
  • Patrick Walkden (now PhD student at Imperial)
  • Peter Stewart (now PhD student at Durham University)
  • Chiti Arvind
  • Connor Warland
  • George Brooks
  • Benjamin Sharpless
  • Matteo Sebastianelli (now PhD student at University of Cyprus)
  • Rick Stanley (now PhD student at University of Florida)
  • Jarome Ali (now PhD student at Princeton University)
  • Constantinos Charalambous
  • Emma Caton (now Communications Coordinator at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust)
  • Anita Kristiansen (now Editorial Coordinator at Royal Society)
  • Alex Bovo (now PhD student at University of Sao Paulo)
  • Nicolas Soulages (now an author)
  • Emily Bell (now Lecturer at University of Bristol)
  • Annette Fayet (now Junior Research Fellow at Queen’s College, Oxford University)

Research Assistants

  • Claire Vincent (now at United Nations Environment Programme–World Conservation Monitoring Centre)
  • Monte Neate-Clegg (now PhD student at Utah State University)
  • Nico Alioravainen (now PhD student at University of Eastern Finland)
  • Hannah MacGregor (now post-doc at Bristol University)
  • Paulo Pulgarin (now based at CES University, Medellin)
  • Dominic Cram (now post-doc at Cambridge University)
  • Job Aben (now post-doc at University of Aberdeen)