Dr Matthew Holden


Faculty of Science


Dr. Matthew Holden is an applied mathematician using dynamic models and decision theory to improve conservation planning when conservation benefits depend on how humans modify their behaviour in response to policy. Some of his projects include saving the African elephant from poaching for ivory and developing novel quantitative methods for invasive and threatened species management. He earned his PhD in Applied mathematics at Cornell University, winning a National Science Foundation Graduate Research fellowship to work on optimization problems in fisheries management, invasive species control, and sustainable agriculture. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis, where he won the University Medal, working on the effect of habitat fragmentation on species persistence.


  • PhD in Applied Mathematics, Cornell University


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Journal Article

  • O'Bryan, Christopher J., Allan, James R., Holden, Matthew, Sanderson, Christopher, Venter, Oscar, Di Marco, Moreno, McDonald-Madden, Eve and Watson, James E.M. (2020). Intense human pressure is widespread across terrestrial vertebrate ranges. Global Ecology and Conservation, 21 e00882, e00882. doi: 10.1016/j.gecco.2019.e00882

  • Adams, Matthew P., Sisson, Scott A., Helmstedt, Kate J., Baker, Christopher M., Michaela Plein, Holden, Matthew H., Holloway, Jacinta, Mengersen, Kerrie L. and McDonald-Madden, Eve (2020). Informing management decisions for ecological networks, using dynamic models calibrated to noisy time-series data. Ecology Letters, 23 (4) ele.13465, 607-619. doi: 10.1111/ele.13465

  • Briscoe, Natalie J., Elith, Jane, Salguero‐Gómez, Roberto, Lahoz‐Monfort, José J., Camac, James S., Giljohann, Katherine M., Holden, Matthew H., Hradsky, Bronwyn A., Kearney, Michael R., McMahon, Sean M., Phillips, Ben L., Regan, Tracey J., Rhodes, Jonathan R., Vesk, Peter A., Wintle, Brendan A., Yen, Jian D.L. and Guillera‐Arroita, Gurutzeta (2019). Forecasting species range dynamics with process‐explicit models: matching methods to applications. Ecology Letters, 22 (11) ele.13348, 1940-1956. doi: 10.1111/ele.13348

  • Mills, Morena, Bode, Michael, Mascia, Michael B., Weeks, Rebecca, Gelcich, Stefan, Dudley, Nigel, Govan, Hugh, Archibald, Carla L., Romero-de-Diego, Cristina, Holden, Matthew, Biggs, Duan, Glew, Louise, Naidoo, Robin and Possingham, Hugh P. (2019). How conservation initiatives go to scale. Nature Sustainability, 2 (10), 935-940. doi: 10.1038/s41893-019-0384-1

  • Holden, Matthew H., Lee, Sharon and Yang, Wen-Hsi (2019). Foreword to the Special Issue on Natural Resource Mathematics. Environmental Modeling and Assessment, 24 (4), 365-367. doi: 10.1007/s10666-019-09677-7

  • Derkley, Tessa, Biggs, Duan, Holden, Matthew and Phillips, Clive (2019). A framework to evaluate animal welfare implications of policies on rhino horn trade. Biological Conservation, 235, 236-249. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2019.05.004

  • O'Bryan, Christopher J., Holden, Matthew H. and Watson, James E.M. (2019). The mesoscavenger release hypothesis and implications for ecosystem and human well‐being. Ecology Letters, 22 (9) ele.13288, 1340-1348. doi: 10.1111/ele.13288

  • Tulloch, Ayesha I. T., Auerbach, Nancy, Avery-Gomm, Stephanie, Dickman, Chris R., Fisher, Diana O., Grantham, Hedley, Holden, Matthew H., Lavery, Tyrone H., Leseberg, Nicholas P., O’Connor, James, Roberson, Leslie, Smyth, Anita K., Stone, Zoe, Tulloch, Vivitskaia, Turak, Eren, Watson, James E. M. and Wardle, Glenda M. (2019). Reply to ‘Consider species specialism when publishing datasets’ and ‘Decision trees for data publishing may exacerbate conservation conflict’. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 3 (3), 320-321. doi: 10.1038/s41559-019-0805-6

  • Holden, Matthew H., Biggs, Duan, Brink, Henry, Bal, Payal, Rhodes, Jonathan and McDonald-Madden, Eve (2018). Increase anti-poaching law-enforcement or reduce demand for wildlife products?: a framework to guide strategic conservation investments. Conservation Letters, 12 (3) e12618, e12618. doi: 10.1111/conl.12618

  • Tulloch, Ayesha I. T., Auerbach, Nancy, Avery-Gomm, Stephanie, Bayraktarov, Elisa, Butt, Nathalie, Dickman, Chris R., Ehmke, Glenn, Fisher, Diana O., Grantham, Hedley, Holden, Matthew H., Lavery, Tyrone H., Leseberg, Nicholas P., Nicholls, Miles, O'Connor, James, Roberson, Leslie, Smyth, Anita K., Stone, Zoe, Tulloch, Vivitskaia, Turak, Eren, Wardle, Glenda M. and Watson, James E. M. (2018). A decision tree for assessing the risks and benefits of publishing biodiversity data. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2 (8), 1209-1217. doi: 10.1038/s41559-018-0608-1

  • Baker, Christopher M., Holden, Matthew H., Plein, Michaela, McCarthy, Michael A. and Possingham, Hugh P. (2018). Informing network management using fuzzy cognitive maps. Biological Conservation, 224, 122-128. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2018.05.031

  • Braczkowski, Alexander, Holden, Matthew H., O'Bryan, Christopher, Choi, Chi-Yeung, Gan, Xiaojing, Beesley, Nicholas, Gao, Yufang, Allan, James, Tyrrell, Peter, Stiles, Daniel, Brehony, Peadar, Meney, Revocatus, Brink, Henry, Takashina, Nao, Lin, Ming-Ching, Lin, Hsien-Yung, Rust, Niki, Salmo, Severino G., Watson, James Em, Kahumbu, Paula, Maron, Martine, Possingham, Hugh P. and Biggs, Duan (2018). Reach and messages of the world's largest ivory burn. Conservation Biology, 32 (4), 765-773. doi: 10.1111/cobi.13097

  • McGowan, Jennifer, Bode, Michael, Holden, Matthew H., Davis, Katrina, Krueck, Nils C., Beger, Maria, Yates, Katherine L. and Possingham, Hugh P. (2018). Correction to: Ocean zoning within a sparing versus sharing framework. Theoretical Ecology, 11 (2), 255-255. doi: 10.1007/s12080-018-0368-1

  • Biggs, Duan, Smith, Robert J., Adams, Vanessa M., Brink, Henry, Cook, Carly N., Cooney, Rosie, Holden, Matthew H., Maron, Martine, Phelps, Jacob, Possingham, Hugh P., Redford, Kent H., Scholes, Robert J., Sutherland, William J., Underwood, Fiona M. and Milner-Gulland, E. J. (2018). Ivory crisis: role of bioprinting technology (Response). Science, 360 (6386), 277-278. doi: 10.1126/science.aat1596

  • McGowan, Jennifer, Bode, Michael, Holden, Matthew H., Davis, Katrina, Krueck, Nils C., Beger, Maria, Yates, Katherine L. and Possingham, Hugh P. (2018). Ocean zoning within a sparing versus sharing framework. Theoretical Ecology, 11 (2), 245-254. doi: 10.1007/s12080-017-0364-x

  • Biggs, Duan, Holden, Matthew H., Braczkowski, Alex, Cook, Carly N., Milner-Gulland, E. J., Phelps, Jacob, Scholes, Robert J., Smith, Robert J., Underwood, Fiona M., Adams, Vanessa M., Allan, James, Brink, H., Cooney, R., Gao, Y., Hutton, J., Macdonald-Madden, Eve, Maron, Martine, Redford, Kent H., Sutherland, William J. and Possingham, Hugh P. (2017). Breaking the deadlock on ivory. Science, 358 (6369), 1378-1381. doi: 10.1126/science.aan5215

  • Law, Elizabeth A., Ferraro, Paul J., Arcese, Peter, Bryan, Brett A., Davis, Katrina, Gordon, Ascelin, Holden, Matthew H., Iacona, Gwenllian, Marcos Martinez, Raymundo, McAlpine, Clive A., Rhodes, Jonathan R., Sze, Jocelyne S. and Wilson, Kerrie A. (2017). Projecting the performance of conservation interventions. Biological Conservation, 215, 142-151. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2017.08.029

  • Holden, Matthew H. and McDonald-Madden, Eve (2017). Conservation from the grave: human burials to fund the conservation of threatened species. Conservation Letters, 11 (1) e12421, e12421. doi: 10.1111/conl.12421

  • Holden, Matthew H. and McDonald-Madden, Eve (2017). High prices for rare species can drive large populations extinct: the anthropogenic Allee effect revisited. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 429, 170-180. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2017.06.019

  • Holden, Matthew H., Butt, Nathalie, Chauvenet, Alienor, Plein, Michaela, Stringer, Martin and Chades, Iadine (2017). Academic conferences urgently need environmental policies. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 1 (9), 1211-1212. doi: 10.1038/s41559-017-0296-2

  • Holden, Matthew H. and Ellner, Stephen P. (2016). Human judgment vs quantitative models for the management of ecological resources. Ecological Applications, 26 (5), 1553-1565. doi: 10.1890/15-1295

  • Biggs, Duan, Holden, Matthew H., Braczkowski, Alexander R. and Possingham, Hugh P. (2016). Elephant poaching: track the impact of Kenya's ivory burn. Nature, 534 (7606), 179-179. doi: 10.1038/534179a

  • Holden, Matthew H., Nyrop, Jan P. and Ellner, Stephen P. (2016). The economic benefit of time-varying surveillance effort for invasive species management. Journal of Applied Ecology, 53 (3), 712-721. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12617

  • Holden, Matthew H. and Conrad, Jon M. (2015). Optimal escapement in stage-structured fisheries with environmental stochasticity. Mathematical Biosciences, 269, 76-85. doi: 10.1016/j.mbs.2015.08.021

  • Low, Candace, Ellner, Stephen P. and Holden, Matthew H. (2013). Optimal control and cold war dynamics between plant and herbivore. American Naturalist, 182 (2), E25-E39. doi: 10.1086/670810

  • Holden, Matthew H., Ellner, Stephen P., Lee, Doo-Hyung, Nyrop, Jan P. and Sanderson, John P. (2012). Designing an effective trap cropping strategy: the effects of attraction, retention and plant spatial distribution. Journal of Applied Ecology, 49 (3), 715-722. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2012.02137.x

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

Completed Supervision