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Tim Lucas



Research interests

Epidemiology: I am interested in complex, nonlinear models of disease transmission, especially in vector-borne and zoonotic diseases.

Ecology: Global change is the crucial issue of our generation. Studying spatial and multi-species systems can help us mitigate these changes.

PhD Research

Bats carry a number of important viruses that have recently spilled over into human populations. Diseases with a bat reservoir include Henipah, Ebola and SARS. One potential explanation for bats' important role as viral reservoirs is their unusually gregarious ecology with some bat species living in colonies of millions of individuals.

Bat populations can be modelled as a network. Colonies can be considered nodes and the regularity of interactions between colonies are encoded as the edges of the network. This network is embedded in space which allows us to obtain useful information about its properties simply by knowing the locations of bat roosts.

I intend to study how this population structure affects the dynamics of bat viruses that may be endemic or have recurring epidemics. This can help inform us on factors that increase the chance of viral spillover. If the disease dynamics are oscillatory or include recurring epidemics we can use this information to predict when viral spillover will occur. If the colonies that are highly connected within the network experience more epidemics than others then this can tell us where spillovers are likely to occur.

My supervisors for this work are Kate Jones and Hilde Wilkinson-Herbots.


Lucas TCD, Moorcroft EA, Freeman R, Rowcliffe MJ, Jones KE. (2015) A generalised random encounter model for estimating animal density with remote sensor data. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.12346 [PDF]

Walters CL, Collen A, Lucas TCD, Mroz K, Sayer CA and Jones KE. (2013) Challenges of Using Bioacoustics to Globally Monitor Bats. in Bat Evolution, Ecology, and Conservation. Springer, New York. 479-499.

R Packages

Tim Lucas, Nick Golding, Tom August, Greg McInerny, Emiel van Loon (2015) Zoon: Reproducible, Accessible & Shareable Species Distribution Modelling. [Github]

Tim Lucas (2015) palettetown: Use Pokemon Inspired Colour Palettes [Github]

Previous Research

MRes Summer Project: An ideal-gas model for acoustically detected species
Supervisor: Kate Jones
I developed a random encounter model to estimate bat abundances from acoustically collected count data. I applied data from the iBats project to obtain estimates of bat abundance for a number of species in eastern Europe. After further work this project is now published.     [PDF]

MRes Short Project: Bat identification with gaussian process learning
Supervisors: Kate Jones & Mark Girolami
Gaussian process learning is a sophisticated statistical machine-learning method. I created a classifier which identifies European bats to species and genus level using their echolocation calls.    [PDF]

MRes short project: Pair approximations in spatial ecology
Supervisors: David Murrel & Stephen Baigent
The ecology of static organisms is difficult to study analytically as the populations are not mixed. Pair approximation is a moment closure method that assumes that only nearest-neighbour interactions are ecologically important. I compared a number of moment closures for a spatial logistic model.    [PDF]

MBioSci project: The Drivers of Malaria Dynamics in Thailand
Supervisors: Dylan Childs & Mike Boots
I studied the dynamics of Malaria in Thailand using wavelet analysis. There is a weak multi-annual malaria cycle and I attempted to infer whether this was driven by El Niño or intrinsic disease dynamics.    

For a full CV, see here.   [PDF]


I listen to music (last.fm)
I used to play music (Bleaklow)
I read books (goodreads.com)