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Durham University

Department of Biosciences


Dr Philip Stephens

Personal web page

Associate Professor (Reader) in the Department of Biosciences
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 49102

Contact Dr Philip Stephens

Phil Stephens graduated in Zoology from Bristol, took an MSc. in Conservation Biology at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology and gained his PhD in population ecology from the University of East Anglia (2002).  His principal interests are in how evolved traits shape the fates of individuals and how those fates sum to determine the dynamics of populations.  These interests inform research on evolution, behaviour and conservation more broadly.

Research Groups

Department of Biosciences

Indicators of Esteem

  • 2015: Member, Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (Portugal) review panel: Member of panel that met (in Lisbon) to assess and rank >250 grant applications to the major Portuguese science funding body.
  • 2015: Member, Science Panel to Quality Assure the UK and England Biodiversity Indicators: Member of a small, independent expert panel to review the indicators used to assess UK government progress towards national and international biodiversity targets.
  • 2014: Invited author: Population Viability Analysis: Peer reviewed contribution to the Oxford Bibliographies Online initiative.
  • 2014: Senior Editor, Journal of Applied Ecology:
  • 2012: Member, NERC Peer Review College:
  • 2007: Associate Editor, Journal of Applied Ecology:
  • 2006: Acting Senior Editor, Journal of Applied Ecology:
  • 2005: Associate Editor, Journal of Applied Ecology:
  • Associate Editor, Endangered Species Research:

Selected Publications

Journal Article

  • Hsing, P.-Y., Coghill, L., Ryder, J., Austin, M., Dooley, S., Ellison, A., Fenwick, C., Garland, M., Humphrey, P., Proudlock, H., Robson, A., Steer, C., Turnbull, L., Kent, V.T., Bradley, S., Hill, R.A., Ascroft, R. & Stephens, P. (Accepted). Citizen scientists: school students conducting, contributing to and communicating ecological research – experiences of a school–university partnership. School Science Review
  • Howard, C., Flather, C.H. & Stephens, P.A. (2020). A global assessment of the drivers of threatened terrestrial species richness. Nature Communications 11(1): 993
  • Marion, Solène, Davies, Althea, Demšar, Urška, Irvine, R. Justin, Stephens, Philip A. & Long, Jed (2020). A systematic review of methods for studying the impacts of outdoor recreation on terrestrial wildlife. Global Ecology and Conservation 22: e00917.
  • Docherty, Teegan, Hethcoat, Matthew, MacTavish, Lynne, MacTavish, Dougal, Dell, Stephen, Stephens, Philip & Willis, Stephen (2020). Burning savanna for avian species richness and functional diversity. Ecological Applications
  • Green, S.E., Rees, J.P., Stephens, P.A., Hill, R.A. & Giordano, A.J. (2020). Innovations in Camera Trapping Technology and Approaches: The Integration of Citizen Science and Artificial Intelligence. Animals 10(1): 132.
  • Ferretti, F., Lovari, S., Lucherini, M., Hayward, M.W. & Stephens, P.A. (2020). Only the largest terrestrial Carnivores increase their dietary breadth with increasing prey richness. Mammal Review
  • Nuñez, Martin A., Barlow, Jos, Cadotte, Marc, Lucas, Kirsty, Newton, Erika, Pettorelli, Nathalie & Stephens, Philip A. (2019). Assessing the uneven global distribution of readership, submissions and publications in applied ecology: Obvious problems without obvious solutions. Journal of Applied Ecology 56(1): 4-9.
  • Ferretti, F., Lovari, S. & Stephens, P.A. (2019). Joint effects of weather and interspecific competition on foraging behaviour and survival of a mountain herbivore. Current Zoology 65(2): 165-175.
  • Mason, Lucy R., Green, Rhys E., Howard, Christine , Stephens, Philip A., Willis, Stephen G., Aunins, Ainars Brotons, Lluís Chodkiewicz, Tomasz Chylarecki, Przemysław Escandell, Virginia Foppen, Ruud P. B., Herrando, Sergi Husby, Magne Jiguet, Frédéric Kålås, John Atle, Lindström, Åke Massimino, Dario Moshøj, Charlotte Nellis, Renno Paquet, Jean-Yves Reif, Jiří Sirkiä, Päivi M., Szép, Tibor Florenzano, Guido Tellini, Teufelbauer, Norbert Trautmann, Sven van Strien, Arco van Turnhout, Chris A. M., Voříšek, Petr & Gregory, Richard D. (2019). Population responses of bird populations to climate change on two continents vary with species’ ecological traits but not with direction of change in climate suitability. Climatic Change 157(3-4): 337-354.
  • Stephens, P.A., Vieira, M.V., Willis, S.G. & Carbone, C. (2019). The limits to population density in birds and mammals. Ecology Letters 22(4): 654-663.
  • Howard, C., Flather, C.H. & Stephens, P.A. (2019). What drives at-risk species richness? Environmental factors are more influential than anthropogenic factors or biological traits. Conservation Letters 12(2): e12624.
  • Stephens, P.A. (2018). Ecology: Luck, Scarcity and the Fate of Populations. Current Biology 28(24): R1384-R1386.
  • Hsing, P.-Y., Bradley, S.P., Kent, V.T., Hill, R.A., Smith, G.C., Whittingham, M.J., Cokill, J., Crawley, D., MammalWeb Volunteers, & Stephens, P.A. (2018). Economical crowdsourcing for camera trap image classification. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation 4(4): 361-374.
  • Howard, C., Stephens, P.A., Tobias, J.A., Sheard, C., Butchart, S.H.M. & Willis, S.G. (2018). Flight range, fuel load, and the impact of climate change on the journeys of migrant birds. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 285(1873): 20172329.
  • Pettorelli, Nathalie, Barlow, Jos, Stephens, Philip A., Durant, Sarah M., Connor, Ben, Schulte to Bühne, Henrike, Sandom, Christopher J., Wentworth, Jonathan & du Toit, Johan T. (2018). Making rewilding fit for policy. Journal of Applied Ecology 55(3): 1114-1125.
  • Barlow, Jos, Stephens, Philip A., Bode, Michael, Cadotte, Marc W., Lucas, Kirsty, Newton, Erika, Nuñez, Martin A. & Pettorelli, Nathalie (2018). On the extinction of the single-authored paper: The causes and consequences of increasingly collaborative applied ecological research. Journal of Applied Ecology 55(1): 1-4.
  • Voskamp, A., Baker, D.J., Stephens, P.A., Valdes, P.J. & Willis, S.G. (2017). Global patterns in the divergence between phylogenetic diversity and species richness in terrestrial birds. Journal of Biogeography 44(4): 709-721.
  • Cadotte, M.W., Barlow, J., Nunez, M.A., Pettorelli, N. & Stephens, P.A. (2017). Solving environmental problems in the Anthropocene: the need to bring novel theoretical advances into the applied ecology fold. Journal of Applied Ecology 54(1): 1-6.
  • Mason, Tom H.E., Brivio, Francesca, Stephens, Philip A., Apollonio, Marco & Grignolio, Stefano (2017). The behavioral trade-off between thermoregulation and foraging in a heat-sensitive species. Behavioral Ecology 28(3): 908-918.
  • Barlow, J., Cadotte, M., Newton, E., Pettorelli, N., Plane, A., Stephens, P.A. & Whittingham, M.J. (2016). Achieving and communicating globally relevant applied ecological research. Journal of Applied Ecology 53(1): 1-4.
  • Sanderson, F.J., Pople, R.G., Leronymidou, C., Burfield, I.J., Gregory, R.D., Willis, S.G., Howard, C., Stephens, P.A., Beresford, A.E. & Donald, P.F. (2016). Assessing the performance of EU nature legislation in protecting target bird species in an era of climate change. Conservation Letters 9(3): 172-180.
  • Davis, M.L., Stephens, P.A. & Kjellander, P. (2016). Beyond climate envelope projections: Roe deer survival and environmental change. The Journal of Wildlife Management 80(3): 452-464.
  • Stephens, P.A., Mason, L.R., Green, R.E., Gregory, R.D., Sauer, J.R., Alison, J., Aunins, A., Brotons, L., Butchart, S.H.M., Campedelli, T., Chodkiewicz, T., Chylarecki, P., Crowe, O., Elts, J., Escandell, V., Foppen, R.P.B., Heldbjerg, H., Herrando, S., Husby, M., Jiguet, F., Lehikoinen, A., Lindström, Å., Noble, D.G., Paquet, J., Reif, J., Sattler, T., Szép, T., Teufelbauer, N., Trautmann, S., van Strien, A.J., van Turnhout, C.A.M., Vorisek, P. & Willis, S.G. (2016). Consistent response of bird populations to climate change on two continents. Science 352(6281): 84-87.
  • Stephens, P.A. (2015). Land sparing, land sharing, and the fate of Africa's lions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 112(48): 14753-14754.
  • Stephens, P.A., Pettorelli, N., Barlow, J., Whittingham, M.J. & Cadotte, M.W. (2015). Management by proxy? The use of indices in applied ecology. Journal of Applied Ecology 52(1): 1-6.
  • Palmer, G., Stephens, P.A., Ward, A.I. & Willis, S.G. (2015). Nationwide trophic cascades: changes in avian community structure driven by ungulates. Scientific Reports 5: 15601
  • Howard, C., Stephens, P.A., Pearce-Higgins, J., Gregory, R.D. & Willis, S.G. (2015). The drivers of avian abundance: patterns in the relative importance of climate and land use. Global Ecology and Biogeography 24(11): 1249-1260.
  • Stephens, P.A., Houston, A.I., Harding, K.C., Boyd, I.L. & McNamara, J.M. (2014). Capital and income breeding: the role of food supply. Ecology 95(4): 882-896.
  • Devenish-Nelson, E.S., Richards, S.A., Harris, S., Soulsbury, C.D. & Stephens, P.A. (2014). Demonstrating frequency-dependent transmission of sarcoptic mange in red foxes. Biology Letters 10(10): 20140524.
  • Mason, T.H.E., Apollonio, M., Chirichella, R., Willis, S.G. & Stephens, P.A (2014). Environmental change and long-term body mass declines in an alpine mammal. Frontiers in Zoology 11: 69.
  • Howard, Christine, Stephens, Philip A., Pearce-Higgins, James W., Gregory, Richard D. & Willis, Stephen G. (2014). Improving species distribution models: the value of data on abundance. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 5(6): 506-513.
  • Mason, T.H.E., Stephens, P.A., Apollonio, M. & Willis, S.G. (2014). Predicting potential responses to future climate in an alpine ungulate: interspecific interactions exceed climate effects. Global Change Biology 20(12): 3872-3882.
  • Devenish-Nelson, E.S., Harris, S., Soulsbury, C.D., Richards, S.A. & Stephens, P.A. (2013). Demography of a carnivore, the red fox, Vulpes vulpes,: what have we learnt from 70 years of published studies? Oikos 122(5): 705-716.
  • Devenish-Nelson, E.S., Stephens, P.A., Harris, S., Soulsbury, C. & Richards, S.A. (2013). Does litter size variation affect models of terrestrial carnivore extinction risk and management? PLoS ONE 8(2): e58060.
  • Larson, G., Stephens, P.A., Tehrani, J. & Layton, R.H. (2013). Exapting exaptation. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 28(9): 497-498.
  • Mason, T.H.E., Stephens, P.A., Willis, S.G., Chirichella, R., Apollonio, M. & Richards, S.A. (2012). Intraseasonal variation in reproductive effort: young males finish last. The American Naturalist 180(6): 823-830.
  • Davis, M.L., Stephens, P.A., Willis, S.G., Bassi, E., Marcon, A., Donaggio, E., Capitani, C. & Apollonio, M. (2012). Prey Selection by an Apex Predator: The Importance of Sampling Uncertainty. Plos One 7(10): e47894.
  • Flather, Curtis H., Hayward, Gregory D., Beissinger, Steven R. & Stephens, Philip A. (2011). A general target for MVPs: unsupported and unnecessary. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(12): 620-622.
  • Mason, T.H.E., Chirichella, R., Richards, S.A., Stephens, P.A., Willis, S.G. & Apollonio, M. (2011). Contrasting life histories in neighbouring populations of a large mammal. PLoS ONE 6(11): e28002.
  • White, T.A., Fotherby, H.A., Stephens, P.A. & Hoelzel, A.R. (2011). Genetic panmixia and demographic dependence across the North Atlantic in the deep-sea fish, blue hake (Antimora rostrata). Heredity 106(4): 690-699.
  • T.J. Lee, M.P. Speed & P.A. Stephens (2011). Honest Signaling and the Uses of Prey Coloration. American Naturalist 178(1): 1-9.
  • C.H. Flather, G.D. Hayward, S.R. Beissinger & P.A. Stephens (2011). Minimum viable populations: is there a 'magic number' for conservation practitioners? Trends in Ecology & Evolution 26(6): 307-316.
  • Richards, S.A., Whittingham, M.J. & Stephens, P.A. (2011). Model selection and model averaging in behavioural ecology: the utility of the IT-AIC framework. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 65(1): 77-89.
  • S.R. Beissinger, C.H. Flather, G.D. Hayward & P.A. Stephens (2011). No safety in numbers. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 9(9): 486-486.
  • Carbone, C., Pettorelli, N. & Stephens, P.A. (2011). The bigger they come, the harder they fall: body size and prey abundance influence predator-prey ratios. Biology Letters 7(2): 312-315.
  • M.P. Speed, G.D. Ruxton, J.D. Blount & P.A. Stephens (2010). Diversification of honest signals in a predator-prey system. Ecology Letters 13(6): 744-753.
  • K.A. Bywater, M. Apollonio, N. Cappai & P.A. Stephens (2010). Litter size and latitude in a large mammal: the wild boar Sus scrofa. Mammal Review 40(3): 212-220.
  • Devenish-Nelson, E.S., Harris, S., Soulsbury, C.D., Richards, S.A. & Stephens, P.A. (2010). Uncertainty in Population Growth Rates: Determining Confidence Intervals from Point Estimates of Parameters. Plos One 5(10): e13628.
  • P.A. Stephens, I.L. Boyd, J.M. McNamara & A.I. Houston (2009). Capital breeding and income breeding: their meaning, measurement, and worth. Ecology 90(8): 2057-2067.
  • J.M. McNamara, P.A. Stephens, S.R.X. Dall & A.I. Houston (2009). Evolution of trust and trustworthiness: social awareness favours personality differences. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 276(1657): 605-613.
  • R.P. Freckleton & P.A. Stephens (2009). Predictive models of weed population dynamics. Weed Research 49(3): 225-232.
  • Blount, J.D., Speed, M.P., Ruxton, G.D. & Stephens, P.A. (2009). Warning displays may function as honest signals of toxicity. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 276(1658): 871-877.
  • R.P. Freckleton, W.J. Sutherland, A.R. Watkinson & P.A. Stephens (2008). Modelling the effects of management on population dynamics: some lessons from annual weeds. Journal of Applied Ecology 45(4): 1050-1058.
  • O. Fero, P.A. Stephens, Z. Barta, J.M. McNamara & A.I. Houston (2008). Optimal annual routines: New tools for conservation biology? Ecological Applications 18(6): 1563-1577.
  • P.A. Stephens, C. Carbone, I.L. Boyd, J.M. McNamara, K.C. Harding & A.I. Houston (2008). The scaling of diving time budgets: Insights from an optimality approach. The American Naturalist 171(3): 305-314.
  • P.A. Stephens, S.W. Buskirk, G.D. Hayward & C.M. Del Rio (2007). A call for statistical pluralism answered. Journal of Applied Ecology 44(2): 461-463.
  • A.I. Houston, P.A. Stephens, I.L. Boyd, K.C. Harding & J.M. McNamara (2007). Capital or income breeding? A theoretical model of female reproductive strategies. Behavioral Ecology 18(1): 241-250.
  • P.A. Stephens, S.W. Buskirk & C.M. del Rio (2007). Inference in ecology and evolution. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 22(4): 192-197.
  • C.M. del Rio, S.W. Buskirk & P.A. Stephens (2007). Null-hypothesis significance tests in education and inference - Response. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 22(9): 446-446.
  • P.A. Stephens, O.Y. Zaumyslova, D.G. Miquelle, A.I. Myslenkov & G.D. Hayward (2006). Estimating population density from indirect sign: track counts and the Formozov-Malyshev-Pereleshin formula. Animal Conservation 9(3): 339-348.
  • M.J. Whittingham, P.A. Stephens, R.B. Bradbury & R.P. Freckleton (2006). Why do we still use stepwise modelling in ecology and behaviour? Journal of Animal Ecology 75(5): 1182-1189.
  • P.A. Stephens, A.F. Russell, A.J. Young, W.J. Sutherland & T.H. Clutton-Brock (2005). Dispersal, eviction, and conflict in meerkats (Suricata suricatta): An evolutionarily stable strategy model. American Naturalist 165(1): 120-135.
  • P.A. Stephens, S.W. Buskirk, G.D. Hayward & C.M. Del Rio (2005). Information theory and hypothesis testing: a call for pluralism. Journal of Applied Ecology 42(1): 4-12.
  • R.P. Freckleton, P.A. Stephens, W.J. Sutherland & A.R. Watkinson (2004). Amelioration of biodiversity impacts of genetically modified crops: predicting transient versus long-term effects. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences 271(1536): 325-331.
  • Freckleton, R. P., Stephens, P. A., Sutherland, W. J. & Watkinson, A. R. (2004). Modelling the effects of genetically modified crops on farmland food webs. Aspects of Applied Biology 74: 183-190.
  • P.A. Stephens, J.N. Pretty & W.J. Sutherland (2003). Agriculture, transport policy and landscape heterogeneity. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18(11): 555-556.
  • P.A. Stephens, R.P. Freckleton, A.R. Watkinson & W.J. Sutherland (2003). Predicting the response of farmland bird populations to changing food supplies. Journal of Applied Ecology 40(6): 970-983.
  • P.A. Stephens, F. Frey-Roos, W. Arnold & W.J. Sutherland (2002). Model complexity and population predictions. The alpine marmot as a case study. Journal of Animal Ecology 71(2): 343-361.
  • P.A. Stephens, F. Frey-Roos, W. Arnold & W.J. Sutherland (2002). Sustainable exploitation of social species: a test and comparison of models. Journal of Applied Ecology 39(4): 629-642.
  • P.A. Stephens, C.A. d'Sa, C. Sillero-Zubiri & N. Leader-Williams (2001). Impact of livestock and settlement on the large mammalian wildlife of Bale Mountains National Park, southern Ethiopia. Biological Conservation 100(3): 307-322.
  • P.A. Stephens & W.J. Sutherland (1999). Consequences of the Allee effect for behaviour, ecology and conservation. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 14(10): 401-405.
  • P.A. Stephens, W.J. Sutherland & R.P. Freckleton (1999). What is the Allee effect? Oikos 87(1): 185-190.

Chapter in book

  • Stephens, P.A. (2016). Population Viability Analysis. In Oxford Bibliographies in Ecology. Gibson, D.J. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • D.G. Miquelle, J.M. Goodrich, E.N. Smirnov, P.A. Stephens, O.Y. Zaumyslova, G. Chapron, L. Kerley, A.A. Murzin, M.G. Hornocker & H.B. Quigley (2010). The Amur tiger: a case study of living on the edge. In The Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids. D.W. Macdonald & A. Loveridge Oxford University Press.
  • Stephens, P.A., Zaumyslova, O.Yu., Myslenkov, A.E., Hayward, G.D. & Miquelle, D.G. (2005). Densities of ungulates in Sikhote-Alin Zapovednik, Russian Far East. In The Tigers of Sikhote-Alin Zapovednik: Ecology and Conservation. Miquelle, D.G., Smirnov, E.N. & Goodrich, J.M. Vladivostok: PSP. 97-112.
  • Stephens, P.A., Zaumyslova, O.Yu., Myslenkov, A.E., Miquelle, D.G. & Hayward, G.D. (2005). Temporal dynamics of ungulates in Sikhote-Alin Zapovednik, Russian Far East, 1962 - 2001. In The Tigers of Sikhote-Alin Zapovednik: Ecology and Conservation. Miquelle, D.G., Smirnov, E.N. & Goodrich, J.M. Vladivostok: PSP. 113-125.
  • Miquelle, D.G., Stephens, P.A., Smirnov, E.N., Goodrich, J.M., Zaumyslova, O.Yu. & Myslenkov, A.I. (2005). Tigers and Wolves in the Russian Far East: Competitive Exclusion, Functional Redundancy and Conservation Implications. In Large Carnivores and the Conservation of Biodiversity. Ray, J.C., Berger, J., Redford, K.H. & Steneck, R. New York: Island Press. 179-207.
  • Stephens, P.A. & Sutherland, W.J. (2000). Vertebrate mating systems, Allee effects and conservation. In Vertebrate Mating Systems. Apollonio, M., Festa-Bianchet, M. & Mainardi, D. London: World Scientific Publishing. 186-213.

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