Professor Philip H Warren

BSc, DPhil

School of Biosciences

Emeritus Professor
+44 114 222 0031

Full contact details

Professor Philip H Warren
School of Biosciences
Alfred Denny Building
Western Bank
S10 2TN


  • BSc University of Wales, Aberystwyth (1985)
  • DPhil University of York (1985-1988)
  • Postdoctoral Research Assistant, University of York (1988-1989)
  • Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Imperial College London (1989)
  • Lecturer & Senior Lecturer, Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield (1989-2007)
  • Reader in Ecology, Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield (2008-2012)
  • Professor of Ecology, School of Biosciences, University of Sheffield (2012-present)
Research interests

My research is concerned with understanding the structure and function of communities and ecosystems, and the interactions humans have with them. This research considers fundamental questions about biodiversity and how it is maintained, including:

  • How are ecological networks, such as food webs, structured and what are the consequences for their function?
  • How is local diversity affected by environmental factors such as habitat structure and energy input?
  • What are the assembly rules which determine community development?
  • How is local community structure affected by dispersal between communities across a landscape?

... and more 'applied' questions to do with the ways in humans affect, and are affected by, the environments in which we live and the ecosystem processes upon which we depend. For example:

  • Can provision of more, diverse, or specific types of, greenspace in urban areas enhance biodiversity, human wellbeing and environmental sustainability?
  • How can we most effectively maintain, or increase, wetland habitats in agricultural and urban areas to support biodiversity and provide better ecosystem services?
  • What are the constraints on, and potential of, small scale food production in urban (and other) areas for wellbeing, food security, and biodiversity?
  • How do we define the quality or state of an ecological system, and what are the implications for community restoration?

These questions are all are broadly concerned with how, and if, we can make a more sustainable future for humans, and the remarkable ecosystems of which we are part and upon which we depend.  As with most of the major environmental challenges we face, tackling such questions does not just involve ecology, but requires interdisciplinary collaboration with such areas as engineering, social science, economics, planning and psychology.

Websites for some current and past projects:

And stretching interdisciplinarity yet further ...


Show: Featured publications All publications

Journal articles

All publications


Journal articles


Research group

PhD Research Students

  • Olivia Richardson: Living highways: biodiversity and ecosystem services in urban roadside greenspace (jointly with Dr Karl Evans, and Amey)
  • Ian Hough: Meeting ecological flow objectives for the WFD in heavily modified water bodies (jointly with Dr James Shucksmith (Civil and Structural Engineering) and United Utilities)
  • Vanessa Berrie: The ethics of conservation and the concept of natural capital (based at the University of York, jointly with Prof Piran White (Environment Dept, York) and Dr Steve Holland (Philosophy Dept, York))
  • Miriam Dobson: People, plants and places: understanding the ingredients of urban food production (jointly with Dr Jill Edmondson)
Teaching interests

I am interested in the development and use of IT to support teaching and assessment in ways that increase the scope and effectiveness of teaching. This has included the development of online course material to enable independent study and distance learning, and online assessment methods, for courses on data analysis and on ecological identification skills. This development work has been supported by grants from the University Learning and Teaching Development Fund (2002, 2008).

Teaching activities


  • Programme director for the Ecology & Conservation Biology degree
  • Senate Award Fellow (2010)
  • APS Teaching Committee
  • APS Student-staff committee coordinator
  • APS VLE (Blackboard) representative


  • APS131 Ecological Identification Skills
  • APS245 Freshwater Ecology Field Course
  • APS348 The Ecology of Landscapes

Other Teaching

I supervise Level 1 and Level 2 tutorial groups, undergraduate research projects at Level 3 (BSc) and Level 4 (MBiolSci), and postgraduate projects (MRes, MSc).

Professional activities and memberships
  • Member of the editorial board of Journal of Animal Ecology (1999-2006) and Associate Editor (2006-2012)
  • Advisory Editor for Environmental Conservation
  • Series Editor for the Ecological Reviews book series (British Ecol. Soc & Cambridge Univ. Press)
  • Editorial Board Landscape Research
  • Member of the Council of the British Ecological Society (2003-2006)
  • Member of BES Publications Committee (2003-present)
  • Member of the ESF Network: International Advancement of Community Ecology Theory (2001-2004)
  • Member of the Freshwater Biological Association Data and Information Services Advisory Group (2011-2017)
  • Member: Periodic Review of Teaching panel: Biological Sciences, University of Southampton (2013)
  • External examiner - University of Lincoln (BSc Biology) (2012-2016)
  • External examiner - Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University (MSc Conservation and Biodiversity / MSc Food Security) (2017-2021)
Other activities
  • Lead reviewer for the APS Research Ethics Committee
  • Coordinator for the Ecology and Conservation Research Cluster and member of the Research Committee in APS
  • Member of the Carbon Neutral University Network

I also have involvement with various ecologically related activities in the local area.  These include being on the board of Trustees for the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust (2011-2017 - vice-chair for part of that time), and on the steering groups for projects run by the Trust, including the HLF funded Nature Counts project (2016-2018), which produced a State of Nature report for Sheffield, and the Data for Nature project (2018-2020), developing systematic plans for nature reserve and wildlife monitoring in the SRWT area.  In addition I represent the University on the Local Wildlife Sites Partnership (Sheffield City Council) which reviews and oversees the designation and monitoring of the 250+ Local Wildlife Sites in the area, and on the Sheffield Crayfish Action Group.