Professor Philip James

Professor of Ecology
Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre Leader

  • Peel Building Room G46
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At the University of Bradford I studied Applied Biology, specializing in Plant Protection.  Immediately after graduating I was employed by United Biscuits (Agriculture) as an Agronomist, with responsibilities for overseeing the growing, harvesting, and storage of potatoes destined to be made in to crisps.  While working for United Biscuits (Agriculture) I studied for my PhD (University of Wales (Swansea)) which I completed in 1985.  My studies focused on an aspect of plant physiology which had not, to that date, been explored and led to a research programme examining the sub-cellular physiological changes I had observed.

In 1985 I left United Biscuits (Agriculture) and trained as a teacher, before taking up a post in Further Education.

In 1994 I came to Salford where I have developed an expertise in ecosystem ecology and urban ecology.  I have published work relating to research conducted in Europe, Africa, and Asia.  My interdisciplinary approach to research has led to invitations to take part in diverse research projects such as creating ecological frameworks for cities and rural areas; examining the ecosystem services associated with saltmarshes, the treescape of cities and towns, and large landscapes such as the 77km2 of the Irwell Catchment; charting the sustainable development of Shanghai, China; and understanding the legacy of an international eye care programmes in Ghana, What links all of these is the concept of systems – a concept central to ecology and one that is useful in many of areas of our lives.


I support learning on a number of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes within the School of Environment & Life Sciences and across the University. In 2013 I was nominated by my students for the award of Best Teacher in the University. In the sessions I lead for the first years I concentrate on developing an understating of the core concepts of ecology and biogeography, and I share my enthusiasm for the natural world (birds, insects (particularly moths), and plants). Much of my teaching focuses on developing the core skills required by practicing ecologists. In my second year classes I support students in acquiring more detailed knowledge that builds form their first year studies. I then build on these in my final year modules to demonstrate how those concepts and that knowledge are used to address real world ecological and conservation issues. To do this I lead a module on Habitat Conservation and Restoration where, with inputs from guest speakers from around the World, we develop the knowledge and skills acquired in the first two years to address practical conservation issues – creating management plans, conducting surveys, and identifying best practice. In addition to the work with our undergraduates I lead modules on our MA Wildlife Documentary Production programme. I support supports students in gaining advanced ecological skills, I also guide the identification and researching of appropriate stories, turning these in to films, and I oversee the production of a number of the final films produced by these students.

Research Interests

Soon after joining the University of Salford I developed a research programme that led to establishing Ecological Networks in the UK and Italy.  From that I worked to expand those ideas into urban areas which led to the creation of the Greater Manchester Ecological Framework.  These landscape scale approaches were forerunners to what is now called ‘the Ecosystem Approach’ and my research has developed to incorporate studies of ecosystem services that are delivered by divers habitats (salt marsh, brownfield sites, Sustainable Drainage Systems, woodlands, meadows, and lakes and ponds).  This work is informing national and international policy.  One example of which is that I was recently interviewed by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology to provide guidance on Green Infrastructure to parliamentarians.  My research is also used in guiding the development of landscape scale conservation and environment improvement interventions in for example, the River Irwell Catchment (777 km2), the Great Manchester Wetlands Partnership (400 km2) and the Upper Mersey Estuary. 

Qualifications and Memberships


Advanced Certificate in Professional Development Teaching (University of Salford).1997

PGCE Middle Years (CNAA).1986

PhD Biology (University of Wales (Swansea).1985

BSc (Hons) Applied Biology (University of Bradford).1980


Chartered Biologist (CBiol)

Fellow of the Society of Biology (FSoB)

Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (FCIEEM)

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)

Member of the British Ecological Society


Radford, KG, and James, P 2012, 'Changes in the value of ecosystem services along a rural–urban gradient: A case study of Greater Manchester, UK' , Landscape and Urban Planning 109(1) 117-127

Kong, F & Yin, H & Nakagoschi, N & James, P 2012, 'Simulating urban growth processes incorporating a potential model with spatial metrics', Ecological Indicators, 20 82-91.

James, P & Norman, D & Clarke, J 2010, 'Avian population dynamics and human induced change in an urban environment ', Urban Ecosystems 499-515.

James, P., Tzoulas, K., Adams, M., Barber, A., Box, J., Breuste, J., Elmqvist, T., Frith, M., Gordon, C., Greening, K. L., Haworth, S. Kazmierczak, A.E., Johnston, M., Korpela, K., Moretti, M., Niemelä, J., Pauleit, S., Roe, M.H., Sadler, J.P., Thompson, C., W (2009), 'Towards an integrated understanding of green space in the built environment ', Urban Forestry and Urban Greening , 8, pp.65-75.

Tzoulas, K, Korpela, K, Venn, S, Yli-Pelkonen, V, Kazmierczak, A, Niemela, J and James, P 2007, 'Promoting ecosystem and human health in urban areas using green infrastructure: A literature review', Landscape and Urban Planning, 81 (3) , pp. 167-178.

Tzoulas, K and James, P 2010, 'Making biodiversity measures accessible to non-specialists: An innovative method for rapid assessment of urban biodiversity ', Urban Ecosystems, 13 (1) , pp. 113-127.