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Matthew Hayes

Matthew Hayes

Research Assistant

Museum Room G. 15
Office Phone: 01223 (7)68919


I graduated with a BSc in Natural Sciences from Durham University in 2015. This course allowed me to construct my degree programme around my key areas of interest and I undertook modules from several different departments focused on the themes of conservation, ecology and behaviour. During my final year at Durham I was given the chance to develop my long-held fascination with insects and wrote a literature review on the Large Blue butterfly (Phengaris (Maculinea) arion).

After finishing my undergraduate degree, I joined the Insect Ecology Group here at Cambridge and completed an MPhil course researching the ecology and habitat requirements of another UK butterfly, the Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis Lucina). Under the guidance of Dr Ed Turner, I worked alongside the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire (BCN) Wildlife Trust to help determine the best management strategies to preserve this species on their reserves. This project was partly funded by a Christ’s College Newton Trust studentship.

Since finishing my MPhil I have been working at the University Museum of Zoology on the Jenyns’ Beetle Voyage Project. Leonard Jenyns was an eminent entomologist in the 19th century and was actually offered the job as naturalist on the Beagle before declining and suggesting Darwin as his replacement. He lived in Cambridgeshire and collected specimens from the local area, including many insects, which are now stored here in the museum. The goal of the Jenyns’ Beetle Voyage Project is to catalogue, for the first time, part of this extensive insect collection. In doing so we hope to gain information on how habitats and populations have changed over the last few hundred years and how future changes may impact local species. We are also working to make this fascinating collection more accessible to a wider audience by creating an online database and interactive content.

Research Interests

I am interested in studying the ecology, behaviour and habitat requirements of invertebrates in the UK so that appropriate management can be implemented to maintain biodiversity on our fragmented reserves. Invertebrates are an important food base for a huge array of animals and they provide essential ecosystem services such as pollination and improving soil fertility. However, they can often be overlooked as conservation tends to focus on larger and supposedly more 'charismatic' species. The recent publicity about the rapid decline of butterfly populations in Britain highlights the need to research and better understand the challenges facing these and other insects.

Worryingly, as sensitive bioindicators for environmental change, the decline of UK butterflies may also indicate the widespread degradation of many of our semi-natural habitats, which have traditionally supported a large array of species. In order to stem their decline, it is essential that we undertake research into the requirements of insects throughout their life cycle. Only then can appropriate management techniques be implemented to preserve these populations and their associated communities. This is likely to be particularly important in light of projected climate change, as we try to maintain the suitability of our reserves amidst shifting regional temperatures.


  • Insect Ecology


Key Publications

Hayes MP (2015) The biology and ecology of the large blue butterfly Phengaris (Maculinea) arion: a review. Journal of Insect Conservation 19:1037-1051.