Matthew Petelle, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Associate

Dr. Matthew Petelle serves San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance as a Postdoctoral Associate in Recovery Ecology and is based at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center. Matthew is a behavioral ecologist and combines animal behavior, evolution, cognition and ecology to help improved conservation outcomes. He is especially interested in how individual level behavior influences populations, communities, and ecosystems.

Matthew’s primary role is to understand factors influencing parent-rearing in the ‘Alalā and to increase natural behaviors in captivity to help birds prepare for release into the wild. He brings experience in both behavior and cognition to implement strategies to assist breeding pairs achieve greater fledgling success.

Matthew earned his bachelor’s degree in Biology at Arizona State University and did his doctoral work at the University of California Los Angeles studying the causes and consequences of personality in yellow-bellied marmots. He did postdoctoral work at the University of Free State in South Africa on bat-eared fox behavioral ecology and cognition and at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology on parrot cognition. Before his doctoral work he was a Van Ness Fellow and research associate with SDZWA working with both the Pacific pocket mice and the Stephens kangaroo rat. This internship started him on the path to understanding how individual variation can be important in conservation.