Imperial College London

Dr Matt Clark

Faculty of Natural SciencesCentre for Environmental Policy

Research Associate in Interdisciplinary Conservation Science



m.clark Website




503Weeks BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Overall research focus

I study the mechanisms that drive change in social-ecological systems. These systems are characterized by thresholds, feedbacks between social and ecological processes, and other hallmarks of complexity, making the identification of causes and effects challenging. A key focus of my work is to hypothesize about causal processes of interest using computer simulations and interrogate these hypotheses using real-world observations. The goal of this research is to better understand the dynamics that shaped the current state of natural resources and the well-being of the communities that depend on them, as well as to predict the likely outcomes of future natural resource management decisions. 

I am a postdoc representative for the Centre for Environmental Policy.

Current projects and collaborators

My current primary focus is to understand how some conservation interventions "scale up," or endogenously spread from person to person, local to regional scales, or across institutions. This project is led by Dr. Morena Mills (Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College) and Dr. Arundhati Jagadish (Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Science at Conservation International), and largely relies on empirical data gathered from ongoing projects run by Conservation International. The end goal of this project is to deliver a predictive model to forecast the long-term adoption rates of various community-based conservation initiatives in a variety of locations across the globe. This project is funded by the  Leverhulme Trust-funded grant:  The race to environmental sustainability

I completed my PhD in the Human-Environment Systems research group at Boise State University, working in close collaboration and spending a significant amount of time at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, department of Human behavior, Ecology and Culture. My research with these collaborators focuses on leveraging theory from cultural evolution to understand the processes that lead some groups to sustainably manage common-pool resources and others to outstrip the environment. The empirical backdrop for this research is the small-scale fishing and agricultural communities of Pemba Island, Tanzania where our research group operates a long-term field site.

Methods used

The main methods I use to collect data for my research are satellite-based remote sensing, household surveys, participatory mapping, and accessing data from a variety of publicly available sources. I analyze these data using hierarchical Bayesian regression approaches and by assessing them as consistent with synthetic data produced via agent-based simulations. I am currently interested in developing methods to perform model selection for alternative agent-based simulations using approximate Bayesian computation.

Find a full list of my publications here: Google Scholar profile

Example complex coastal system

Example social-ecological system (Pemba Island, Tanzania)



Clark M, Andrews J, Kolarik N, et al., 2024, Causal attribution of agricultural expansion in a small island system using approximate Bayesian computation, Land Use Policy, Vol:137, ISSN:0264-8377, Pages:106992-106992

Demps K, Herzog NM, Clark M, 2024, From Mind to Matter: Patterns of Innovation in the Archaeological Record and the Ecology of Social Learning, American Antiquity, Vol:89, ISSN:0002-7316, Pages:19-36

Andrews J, Clark M, Hillis V, et al., 2024, The cultural evolution of collective property rights for sustainable resource governance, Nature Sustainability

Andrews J, Clark M, Hillis V, et al., 2024, Correction to: The cultural evolution of collective property rights for sustainable resource governance (Nature Sustainability, (2024), 10.1038/s41893-024-01290-1), Nature Sustainability

Hamad H, Kombo J, Seif K, et al., 2023, Distribution and threats to coconut crabs on Unguja, Zanzibar, African Journal of Ecology, Vol:61, ISSN:0141-6707, Pages:717-721

More Publications