Matthew Etterson

Professional title

Research Ecologist, US Environmental Protection Agency



    • BA Yale University, Mathematics and Philosophy
    • PhD University of Minnesota, Conservation Biology

Curriculum Vitae


My research interests include avian ecology, environmental toxicology, ecological risk assessment, and mathematical modeling. I develop software applications for use in risk assessment for environmental contaminants that integrate knowledge of natural history and ecology. To support model development, I conduct and collaborate on field and laboratory research to fill important knowledge gaps.

Recent Publications

  • Keyel, E.R., M.A. Etterson, G.J. Niemi, D.C. Evers, C.R. DeSorbo, J.C. Hoffman, J.W. Nichols, Y. Li, and F. Nicoletti. 2020. Feather mercury increases with feeding at higher trophic levels in two species of migrant raptors, Merlin (Falco columbarius) and Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus). The Condor: Ornithological Applications 122:1-17.

  • Custer, C.M., T.W. Custer, M.A. Etterson, P.M. Dummer, D. Goldberg, and J.C. Franson. 2018. Reproductive success and contaminant associations in tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) used to assess a Beneficial Use Impairment in U.S. and Binational Great Lakes’ Areas of Concern. Ecotoxicology 27:457–476.

  • Raimondo, S.R., M.A. Etterson, N. Pollesch, K. Garber, A. Kanarek, W. Lehman, and J. Awkerman. 2018. A Framework for Linking Population Model Development with Ecological Risk Assessment Objectives. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management 14: 369–380.

  • Etterson, M.A., Garber, K. and Odenkirchen, E. 2017. Mechanistic modeling of insecticide risks to breeding birds in North American agroecosystems. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0176998.

  • Custer, C., Custer, T.W., Dummer, P.W., Etterson, M.A., Thogmartin, W.E., Wu, Q.  Kannan, K.  Trowbridge, A. and McKann, P.A. 2014. Exposure and effects of perfluorinated compounds in tree swallows nesting in Minnesota and Wisconsin, USA. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 66:120-138.

  • Etterson, M.A. 2013. Hidden markov models for estimating animal mortality from anthropogenic hazards. Ecological Applications 23: 1915–1925.

  • Etterson, M.A., S.N. Ellis-Felege, D. Evers, G. Gauthier, J. A. Grzybowski, B.J. Mattsson, L.R. Nagy, B.J. Olsen, C.M. Pease, M. Post van der Burg, and A. Potvien. 2011. Modeling fecundity in birds: conceptual overview, current models, and considerations for future developments. Ecological Modelling 222: 2178– 2190.

  • Kramer, V., Etterson, M.A., Hecker, M., Murphy, C., Roesijadi, G., Spade, D., Spromberg, J., Wang, M., Ankley, G. 2011. Adverse Outcome Pathways and Ecological Risk Assessment: Bridging to Population Level Effects.  Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 30:64-76.

  • Jackson, A.K., D.C. Evers, M.A. Etterson, A.M. Condon, S.B. Folsom, J.Detweiler, J. Schmerfeld, and D.A. Cristol. 2011. Mercury exposure affects the reproductive success of a free-living terrestrial songbird, the Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus). Auk 128:759-769.

Current Graduate Students and Projects

  • L. Brouellette - Cloacal swabbing as a tool to study diet in migrating raptors using DNA metabarcoding
  • E. Pavlovic - Determining natal origins and migratory patterns of raptors using stable isotope analysis (ẟ2H)
  • A. Pesano - Determining Subspecies Origins of Dark Morph Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo Jamaicensis) Migrating through Minnesota
  • H. Toutonghi - Using high-resolution telemetry to describe daily and seasonal activity and movements of Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula) in winter


    • I enjoy outdoor recreation and English and American literature, ideally together and with my wife, Julie Etterson.