Matt Anderson Ph.D

Director of Behavioral Biology

Matt Anderson, Ph.D., serves the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research as acting director of Behavioral Biology. In this position he oversees, and is actively involved in, projects that utilize the study of animal behavior for the conservation of species both in San Diego Zoo Global’s collection and in the wild. The Behavioral Biology Division specializes in the study of behavior in conjunction with endocrinology, sensory ecology, and animal welfare and management. Current focal species include cheetahs, lions, tigers, elephants, koalas, okapis, and Somali wild ass.
Dr. Anderson’s research team utilizes innovative and novel techniques to gain a greater understanding of animal behavior. The approach is multifaceted and includes the study of animal communication (with an emphasis on bioacoustics), the monitoring of sex steroid and stress hormone levels in relation to many aspects of behavior, and the assessment of animal welfare in the collection. Currently, the division has a sensory ecology laboratory and an endocrinology laboratory to help answer these research questions. Ultimately, the primary focus of the research is to more fully understand how to maximize and maintain reproductive success in rare and endangered species.
Dr. Anderson moved to San Diego in 2000 for a postdoctoral research fellowship to study the reproductive biology of rare and endangered species at the Zoo and Safari Park. In 2006, he was promoted to a new position within the Behavioral Biology Division, where he implemented San Diego Zoo Global’s first sensory ecology lab with a focus upon animal communication, reproductive endocrinology, and captive breeding success. In 2009, he became the acting director for Behavioral Biology.
Prior to arriving in San Diego, Dr. Anderson received an undergraduate degree in zoology from the University of Liverpool in England and then went on to get a master’s degree in environmental impact assessment and management from Oxford Brookes University. Subsequently he studied behavior, reproduction, bioacoustics, and anatomy in nocturnal prosimian primates (bushbabies), for which he was awarded a doctorate in biological anthropology. During his doctoral candidacy, he studied and also lectured at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford University, the Zoological Society of London, and the University of Cambridge. Subsequently he went to work at the sub-department of animal behaviour (a subdivision of the department of zoology at the University of Cambridge) where he studied socio-sexual behavior in marmosets.
Dr. Anderson is the recipient of numerous grants and awards in the fields of behavior and reproductive biology and has authored over 50 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals. He has written articles for the popular science press and presents his findings regularly to both scientific and lay audiences. He is also a reviewer for a number of international peer-reviewed journals and granting bodies. Dr. Anderson teaches regularly and mentors students both locally and around the world. He has strong links to the department of anthropology at the University of California, San Diego, and with both Oxford University and the University of Cambridge in England. He is a member of Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is also actively involved with many different associations that focus upon a variety of different mammalian groups.