Phil Platts
Research Fellow



My research focuses on species distributions, patterns of endemism, ecosystem service modelling, and how these interact with vegetation structure, land/resource use and climate change, particularly in Africa

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Research Fellow University of York (Environment)
Research Associate University of Cambridge (Zoology)
Research Fellow University of Cranfield (Applied Sciences)
Doctorate University of York (Environment)
Research Assistant University of York (Health Sciences)
Masters Universities of York and Linköping
(Maths and Biology)
Undergraduate University of York (Mathematics)


Departmental roles

Website and twitter for York Institute for Tropical Ecosystems


Current projects

Climate Change Impacts on Ecosystem Services and Food Security in Eastern Africa

The objective of this project is to enhance understanding of climate change impacts on ecosystem services in the Eastern Afromontane Biodiversity Hotspot. Field measurements are focussed along three transects in Tanzania (Mt. Kilimanjaro), Kenya (Taita Hills) and Ethiopia (Jimma Highlands). Where possible, our findings will be upscaled to the wider mountain regions. 

I am principally involved in Work Package 4 – the assessment of climate change impacts on biodiversity and habitats. I am also interested in land use change and population growth, and how these impact local climate, ecological function and resource provision.


Funding: Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

Valuing the Arc 

Valuing the Arc aims to map, quantify and value key ecosystem services that flow from the Eastern Arc Mountains in Tanzania. Five UK universities are involved (York, Cambridge, Leeds, UEA, Cranfield), together with two in Tanzania (Dar es Salaam, Sokoine University of Agriculture), WWF-Tanzania and the Natural Capital Project (Stanford). I work on the biodiversity, hydrology and scenario-building modules, and lead the work on timber and cross-module sythesis.

valuing the arc

Funding: Leverhulme Trust, Packard Foundation, Royal Society

Acacia Distribution 

The genus Acacia dominates the structure and floristic composition of extensive areas of East African woodland, wooded grassland and bushland. Acacia species are remarkably diverse, spanning a wide range of ecosystems from arid deserts to montane forests, and growth forms from small shrubs to lianas and large trees. 

In collaboration with Aida Cuni Sanchez (RSPB), Roy Gereau (Missouri Botanical Garden), Rob Marchant and Andy Marshall (York) and the African Conservation Centre (Kenya), I develop bioclimatic models to predict Acacia distribution across East Africa (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda). Modelled species richness has led to targeted fieldwork in northern Kenya and southern Tanzania, and extended our focus into southern Ethiopia, where we are working to fill gaps in the distributional record.


Funding: Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation

Mountains and Endemism

My PhD research proposed an ecoregion definition for the Eastern Arc Mountains (EAMs) based on landform, vegetation and climatic influence. In collaboration with Roy Gereau (Missouri Botanical Garden), Andreas Hemp (University of Bayreuth) and Jaclyn Hall (University of Stanford), this definition is being used to produce a definitive checklist of distribution and endemism among vascular plants.

In related work, these data and definitions are combined with regional climate models, to explore the concept of ecoclimatic stability as a driver of endemism.‌

Funding: Marie Curie Actions

Research group(s)

York Institute for Tropical Ecosystems (KITE)


PhD students

Mike Bungard, University of York and Paignton Zoo. Predictive Modelling for Anuran Responses to Climate Change in Tropical Montane Ecosystems (self-funded)

Rebecca Kariuki, University of York and African Conservation Centre. Ecosystem dynamics and societal interactions in East Africa (REAL Project)


Full publications list

Please email me to request PDF copies

Journal articles

Platts PJ, Omeny PA, Marchant R (2015). AFRICLIM: high-resolution climate projections for ecological applications in Africa. African Journal of Ecology 53, 103-108

Bayliss J, Schaafsma M, Balmford A, Burgess ND, Green J, Madoffe SS, Mariki S, Okayasu S, Peh KS-H, Platts PJ, Yu DW (2014). The current and future value of nature-based tourism in the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania. Ecosystem Services 8, 75-83

Burgess N, Balmford A, Platts PJ, Schaafsma M, Doggart N (eds.) (2014). Valuing the Arc. Special Edition of the Arc Journal. Tanzania Forest Conservation Group, Biannual Newsletter Issue No 29, June 2014, pp. 1-24. The Arc Journal 29

Pfeifer M, Lefebvre V, Gonsamo A, Pellikka PKE, Marchant R, Denu D, Platts PJ (2014). Validating and linking the GIMMS leaf area index (LAI3g) with environmental controls in tropical Africa. Remote Sensing 6, 1973-1990

Pfeifer M, Packer C, Burton AC, Garnett ST, Loveridge AJ, MacNulty D, Platts PJ (2014). In defense of fences. Science 345, 389

Platts PJ, Garcia RA, Hof C, Foden W, Hansen LA, Rahbek C, Burgess ND (2014). Conservation implications of omitting narrow-ranging taxa from species distribution models, now and in the future. Diversity and Distributions 20, 1307-1320

Willcock S, Phillips OL, Platts PJ, Balmford A, Burgess ND, Lovett JC, Ahrends A, Bayliss J, Doggart N, Doody K, Fanning E, Green JMH, Hall J, Howell KL, Marchant R, Marshall AR, Mbilinyi B, Munishi PKT, Owen N, Swetnam RD, Topp-Jorgensen EJ, Lewis SL (2014). Quantifying and understanding carbon storage and sequestration within the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania, a tropical biodiversity hotspot. Carbon Balance and Management 9, 2

Green JMH, Larrosa C, Burgess ND, Balmford A, Johnston A, Mbilinyi BP, Platts PJ, Coad L (2013). Deforestation in an African biodiversity hotspot: extent, variation and the effectiveness of protected areas. Biological Conservation 164, 62-72

Pfeifer M, Platts PJ, Burgess ND, Swetnam RD, Willcock S, Lewis SL, Marchant R (2013). Land use change and carbon fluxes in East Africa quantified using earth observation data and field measurements. Environmental Conservation 40, 241-252

Platts PJ, Gereau RE, Burgess ND, Marchant R (2013). Spatial heterogeneity of climate change in an Afromontane centre of endemism. Ecography 36, 518-530

Marshall AR, Platts PJ, Gereau RE, Kindeketa W, Kang'ethe S, Marchant R (2012). The genus Acacia (Fabaceae) in East Africa: distribution, diversity and the protected area network. Plant Ecology and Evolution 145, 289-301 [Reprinted in Scripta Botanica Belgica 50, 1-13]

Marshall AR, Willcock S, Platts PJ, Lovett JC, Balmford A, Burgess ND, Latham J, Munishi PK, Salter R, Shirima DD, Lewis SL (2012). Measuring and modelling above-ground carbon and tree allometry along a tropical elevation gradient. Biological Conservation 154, 20-33

Pfeifer M, Burgess ND, Swetnam RD, Platts PJ, Willcock S, Marchant R (2012). Protected areas: mixed success in conserving East Africa's evergreen forests. PloS One 7, e39337

Willcock S, Phillips OL, Platts PJ, Balmford A, Burgess ND, Lovett JC, Ahrends A, Bayliss J, Doggart N, Doody K, Fanning E, Green J, Hall J, Howell K, Marchant R, Marshall AR, Mbilinyi B, Munishi P, Owen N, Swetnam RD, Topp-Jorgensen E, Lewis SL (2012). Towards regional, error-bounded landscape carbon storage estimates for data deficient areas of the world. PLoS One 7, e44795

Ahrends A, Burgess ND, Gereau RE, Marchant R, Bulling MT, Lovett JC, Platts PJ, Kindemba VW, Owen N, Fanning E, Rahbek C (2011). Funding begets biodiversity. Diversity and Distributions 17, 191-200

Ahrends A, Rahbek C, Bulling MT, Burgess ND, Platts PJ, Lovett JC, Kindemba VW, Owen N, Sallu AN, Marshall AR, Mhoro BE, Fanning E, Marchant R (2011). Conservation and the botanist effect. Biological Conservation 144, 131-140

Platts PJ, Burgess ND, Gereau RE, Lovett JC, Marshall AR, McClean CJ, Pellikka PKE, Swetnam RD, Marchant R (2011). Delimiting tropical mountain ecoregions for conservation. Environmental Conservation 38, 312-324

Marchant R, Finch J, Kinjanjuyi R, Muiruri V, Mumbi C, Platts PJ, Rucina S (2010). Palaeoenvironmental perspectives for sustainable development in East Africa. Climate of the Past Discussions 6, 963-1007

Marshall AR, Jørgensbye HIO, Rovero F, Platts PJ, White PCL, Lovett JC (2010). The species-area relationship and confounding variables in a threatened monkey community. American Journal of Primatology 72, 325-336

Platts PJ, Ahrends A, Gereau RE, McClean CJ, Lovett JC, Marshall AR, Pellikka PKE, Mulligan M, Fanning E, Marchant R (2010). Can distribution models help refine inventory-based estimates of conservation priority? A case study in the Eastern Arc forests of Tanzania and Kenya. Diversity and Distributions 16, 628-642

KITE (2009). Understanding Eastern Arc Mountain ecosystems: perspectives across space and through time. The Arc Journal 24, 15-17

Platts PJ, McClean CJ, Lovett JC, Marchant R (2008). Predicting tree distributions in an East African biodiversity hotspot: model selection, data bias and envelope uncertainty. Ecological Modelling 218, 121-134

Conference proceedings

Gereau RE, Burgess ND, Fjeldså J, Hall J, Hemp A, Jump AS, Kajuni AR, Marchant RA, Marshall AR, Platts PJ, Taylor CM, Tibazarwa FI (2014). Phylogenetic patterns of extinction risk: the need for critical application of appropriate datasets. Proceedings of the XXth AETFAT Congress, in press [Preprint at PeerJ PrePrints 1, e55v1]

Marchant R, Ahrends A, Finch J, Jump A, Lovett JC, McClean CJ, Mumbi C, Platts PJ, Yanda P (2009). Afromontane ecosystem stability or change? Combining methodologies to understand past, present and future ecosystem shifts within the Eastern Arc biodiversity hotspot of Tanzania and Kenya. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science 6, 072043

Hill A, Platts PJ, Smith A, Richards SJ, Cullen MJ, Hill QA, Roman E, Hillmen P (2006). The incidence and prevalence of Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria (PNH) and survival of patients in Yorkshire. Blood 108, 294A-294A


Platts PJ (2012). Spatial Modelling, Phytogeography and Conservation in the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania and Kenya. PhD Thesis, University of York, UK. White Rose eTheses 2766

Platts PJ (2004). A Patchy Approach to Food Web Persistence. MRes Dissertation, University of York, UK & Linköping Universitet, Sweden. figshare, doi:10.6084/m9.figshare.105675

Platts PJ (2003). The Parable of Daisyworld: A Comprehensive Analysis. BSc Dissertation, University of York, UK. figshare, doi:10.6084/m9.figshare.1059107


Platts PJ, Omeny PA, Marchant R (2015). AFRICLIM 2.0: high-resolution ensemble climate projections for Africa. figshare, doi:10.6084/m9.figshare.1284624

Pfeifer M, Platts PJ (2014). Ground Measurements of leaf area index in Africa. Available here

Platts PJ, Burgess ND, Gereau RE, Lovett JC, Marshall AR, McClean CJ, Pellikka PKE, Swetnam RD, Marchant R (2011). Data from: Delimiting tropical mountain ecoregions for conservation. Dryad Digital Repository, doi:10.5061/dryad.c5310

External activities


Editorial duties

Peer review for: African Journal of Ecology, Annals of Botany, Biological Conservation, Diversity and Distributions, Ecological Modelling, Environmental Conservation, Journal of Biogeography, Physical Geography, PLoS ONE

Platts, Phil

Contact details

Dr Philip Platts
Research Fellow
Environment Department
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: 01904 323244
Fax: 01904 322998