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Matthew Gwynfryn Thomas




Twitter: @matthewgthomas

Room: 326 (Postgraduate Workroom 1)

Year of start: 2012

Subject: Evolutionary Anthropology

Provisional Dissertation Title

The Dynamics of Human Cooperative Groups


Ruth Mace and Andrea Migliano


My research uses simulations, lab-in-the-field experimental games and social network analyses to explore the dynamics of human cooperative groups.

For the theoretical part, I’ve developed a mathematical model to explore how mortality in the environment and competition between siblings can shape birth patterns.

For the empirical part, I conducted fieldwork with Saami reindeer herders living in Norway and am also analysing a dataset of rural Mosuo farmers in China. I use experimental economic games and social network statistics to understand how people in these two locations work together.

Research Interests

  • Evolution of social behaviours
  • Cooperation
  • Kinship systems
  • Life history theory

Academic Background/Education

MSc (Distinction) Human Evolution and Behaviour (2011). University College London
Thesis: “The Social Menopause: Modelling the Effects of Demography on Reproductive Cessation”

BSc (Hons) Computer Science (2004). University of Southampton
Thesis: “Kithara: Software to Transcribe Live Musical Performance"


Thomas, M. G., Næss, M. W., Bårdsen, B.-J., Mace, R. (2015). Saami reindeer herders cooperate with social group members and genetic kin. Behavioral Ecology.

Thomas, M. G., Shanley, D. P., Houston, A. I., McNamara, J. M., Mace, R. & Kirkwood, T. B. L. (2015). A dynamic framework for the study of optimal birth intervals reveals the importance of sibling competition and mortality risks. Journal of Evolutionary Biology.


European Research Council

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