Professor James Charles Russell

BSc (Biology, Statistics, Environmental and Marine Science), MSc (Geography and Environmental Science), PGDipSci (Statistics), PhD (Biology and Statistics)


Professor James Russell is a conservation biologist at the University of Auckland jointly appointed in the School of Biological Sciences and the Department of Statistics. He obtained his PhD in Biology and Statistics from the University of Auckland in 2007 and then worked overseas as a research fellow at UC Berkeley in the French territories of Reunion Island and French Polynesia before joining the faculty in 2010. He has held visiting Professor appointments at the Université Paris-Saclay and Universidade de São Paulo.

James is a strategic advisor to Predator Free New Zealand, scientific advisor to Zero Invasive Predators, National Geographic Explorer, associate editor of the journal Biological Invasions, member of the IUCN Invasive Species Specialist Group and Pigeon and Dove Specialist Group and life member of the Ornithological Society of New Zealand.

James works throughout the world on islands to enable biodiversity conservation drawing upon mixed methodologies from the natural and social sciences. He was the 2012 New Zealand Emerging Scientist of the Year and received the 2018 Society for Conservation Biology Oceania Section distinguished service award and a 2020 Research Excellence Medal.

Research | Current

My research focuses broadly on biodiversity, biosecurity and conservation with a particular emphasis on island ecosystems.

I am interested in a variety of ecological questions which often have underlying application to conservation. I have a particular enthusiasm for islands, where complex ecological relationships can become reducible and tractable.

Of particular interest are population and behavioural biology questions relating to what makes species threatened or invasive, and how these trends can be reversed. I also work with macroecology questions related to biogeography such as species diversity and community composition, and in the application of genetic methods within an ecological context.

My work often has a strong statistical modelling or analytical component. I also have a strong interest in animal ethics and environmental values.

Research sites have included New Zealand, Southern Ocean, Western Indian Ocean, French Polynesia, Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic, Mediterranean and the Tibetan Plateau.

Teaching | Current

I co-ordinate BIOSCI739 Dialogues in Biology, STATS776 Estimating Animal Abundance and BIOSCI206 Principles of Ecology and contribute to BIOSCI395 Pacific Biogeography and Biodiversity, ENVSCI303 Environmental Science, Risk and Society, and ENVSCI733 Biodiversity Management and Conservation.

Postgraduate supervision

I am happy to discuss graduate project supervision in areas of ecology and conservation, particularly those drawing on quantitative and social sciences. My students have an excellent track record of gaining immediate employment in the conservation and environment sector.


  • 2020 University of Auckland Research Excellence Medal
  • 2018 Society for Conservation Biology Oceania Section Distinguished Service Award
  • 2015 Scientist Without Frontiers (Brazil)
  • 2014 Rutherford Discovery Fellow
  • 2013 National Geographic Explorer
  • 2012 Prime Minister's Emerging Scientist Prize Winner
  • 2011 Chinese Academy of Sciences Young Scientist Fellowship


Chair, BirdCare Aotearoa

Health & Safety Committee, School of Biological Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Island conservation
  • Invasive species
  • Statistics
  • Mammals
  • Birds

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Science Advisor, Zero Invasive Predators

Associate Editor, Biological Invasions

Strategic Committee, Predator Free New Zealand

Scientific Advisory Board, Tetiaroa Society

Advisory Group, Endangered Species Foundation New Zealand

Scientific Advisor, Hauturu Supporters Trust

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Russell, J. C., Peace, J. E., Houghton, M. J., Bury, S. J., & Bodey, T. W. (2020). Systematic prey preference by introduced mice exhausts the ecosystem on Antipodes Island. BIOLOGICAL INVASIONS, 22 (4), 1265-1278. 10.1007/s10530-019-02194-4
  • Carter, Z. T., Perry, G. L. W., & Russell, J. C. (2020). Determining the underlying structure of insular isolation measures. JOURNAL OF BIOGEOGRAPHY, 47 (4), 955-967. 10.1111/jbi.13778
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: George Perry
  • Russell, J. C., Horn, S. R., Miskelly, C. M., Sagar, R. L., & Taylor, R. H. (2020). Introduced land mammals and their impacts on the birds of the subantarctic Auckland Islands. Notornis, 67 (1), 247-268. Related URL.
  • Armstrong, D., Ellis, L., Hohneck, M., Iorns, C., Knight, J., Littin, K., ... Steeves, T. (2019). Predator Free New Zealand: Social, Cultural, and Ethical Challenges BioHeritage Challenge. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Emily Parke
  • Russell, J. C., & Kueffer, C. (2019). Island Biodiversity in the Anthropocene. In A. Gadgil, T. P. Tomich (Eds.) (pp. 31-60). ANNUAL REVIEWS. 10.1146/annurev-environ-101718-033245
  • Whitehead, E. A., Adams, N., Baird, K., Bell, E. A., Borrelle, S. B., Dunphy, B. J., ... Russell, J. C. (2019). Threats to Seabirds of Northern Aotearoa New Zealand. Auckland, New Zealand: The Northern New Zealand Seabird Trust. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Edin Whitehead, Brendon Dunphy, Todd Landers
  • Pichlmueller, F., & Russell, J. C. (2018). Survivors or reinvaders? Intraspecific priority effect masks reinvasion potential. BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION, 227, 213-218. 10.1016/j.biocon.2018.09.020
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Florian Pichlmueller
  • Russell, J. C., Abrahao, C. R., Silva, J. C. R., & Dias, R. A. (2018). Management of cats and rodents on inhabited islands: An overview and case study of Fernando de Noronha, Brazil. PERSPECTIVES IN ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION, 16 (4), 193-200. 10.1016/j.pecon.2018.10.005


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 1, Room 109
New Zealand

Social links

Web links