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Dr Yoseph Araya

Profile summary

Professional biography

Dr Yoseph Araya, is a Senior Lecturer in Ecology & Environmental Sciences within the Ecosystems and Biodiversity Research discipline. 

Contact: Yoseph [dot] Araya [at] open [dot] ac [dot] uk

Research interests

My particular research interest is in the functional relationships between plants and their environment (particularly water and nutrients). I especially enjoy integrating experimental studies with field investigations. I also am an enthusiastic communicator of science and environmental education.

Some projects I have been involved include:

  • Soil Moisture gradients and biodiversity in the Cape Flora, Western Cape, South Africa: looking at niche segregation, plant coexistence, ecohydrological management, evolution of plant diversity; as well as plant and soil micobial diversity relationships e.g. UK, Spain

  • Environmental education for the public and engagement in science, including Citizen Science on water, plants, hedges ... e.g. iSpot and in more formal way paraecologists

  • Quantitative Ecology i.e. querying plant record databases for trends and also collaborating with statisticians to test new methods e.g. Foodplain Meadows management

  • Valuing of Ecosystem Services for multiple purposes and stakeholders for sustainable wholistic environmental management - as part of wholistic evaluation

  • ​Macadamia tree growth and nut production in response to provenance, agroclimatic zone and management practices with Neno Macadamia Trust and Emmanuel Zuza Jr. Here is an excellent outreach video with Emmanuel describing an aspect of his project (

  • Microplastics in soil is a project looking at their fate and impact in the environment, working with Joanna Jesionkowska, Pallavi Anand  and collaborators in Severn Trent Water.

  • Habitat fragementation and butterfly conservation in urban ecosystems with Bradley Neal, Phil Wheeler and collaborators in MK Parks Trust.

Teaching interests

Prior to my role as a central academic, I have been an Associate Lecturer with the OU for a number of years, on various science, ecology and environmental science modules (from undergraduate to postgraduate) across faculties. I teach online, face-to-face and in the field, in addition to supporting research students. I particuarly enjoy modules that bridge across disciplines and involve approaches in technology-enhanced learning.

Some modules i have been involved are: Environmental Science (S206/SXF206), Biology of Survival (S295), Environmental Management (T219), Journey's in a changing Environment (U116), SXE390 (Science Project - Environment strand), Environment responding to change (SDT306). A free taster for SDT306 is entitled as 'Eating for the Environment'.

I write public education blogs at OU's OpenLearn website.

Impact and engagement

I have been priviledged to be an academic consultant and contribute to an OU-BBC production of Green Planet, a 5 episode exploration of how plants survive and support our earth. There is a dedicated website with poster and other articles, with my colleagues Prof. David Gowing and Dr Julia Cooke here:

One of the meet the team discussion we had at Northern Ireland's Science Festival is available here: The Power of Plants Event - YouTube

I also participate in mentoring programmes for underrepresented groups with British Ecological Society, Institute for Environmental Science and more recently with the Equator Mentoring Network (funded by NERC).

Another recent project is Walking the Talk (with Dr Marcus Badger, Prof. Clare Warren and others) which aims to understand and encourage outdoor engagement of underrepresented groups.

I am involved in the role of public parks for public health and aging well with Dr Jitka Vseteckova and MK Parks Trust (

In summer 2022 I will be coordinating a couple of web workshops on Art-based global sustainbility education with Dr Maria Nita and citizen science training for employment with British Ecological Society. 

External collaborations

I have active collaborations with colleagues in other institutions within the UK as well as overseas e.g. Spain, Germany, Malawi, and South Africa.

I am an active and passionate member of our professional body, British Ecological Society and its special interest group of Ecology Teaching and Learning as well as public engagement. 

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Climate suitability predictions for the cultivation of macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia) in Malawi using climate change scenarios (2021-09-09)
Zuza, Emmanuel Junior; Maseyk, Kadmiel; Bhagwat, Shonil A.; de Sousa, Kauê; Emmott, Andrew; Rawes, William and Araya, Yoseph Negusse
PLOS ONE, 16, Article e0257007(9)

Review of Macadamia Production in Malawi: Focusing on What, Where, How Much Is Produced and Major Constraints (2021-02-12)
Zuza, Emmanuel Junior; Maseyk, Kadmiel; Bhagwat, Shonil; Emmott, Andrew; Rawes, Will and Araya, Yoseph Negusse
Agriculture, 11, Article e152(2)

Teaching and learning in ecology: a horizon scan of emerging challenges and solutions (2021-01)
Cooke, Julia; Araya, Yoseph; Bacon, Karen L.; Bagniewska, Joanna M.; Batty, Lesley; Bishop, Tom R.; Burns, Moya; Charalambous, Magda; Daversa, David R.; Dougherty, Liam R.; Dyson, Miranda; Fisher, Adam M.; Forman, Dan; Garcia, Cristina; Harney, Ewan; Hesselberg, Thomas; John, Elizabeth A; Knell, Rob; Maseyk, Kadmiel; Mauchline, Alice L.; Peacock, Julie; Pernetta, Angelo P.; Pritchard, Jeremy; Sutherland, William J.; Thomas, Rebecca L.; Tigar, Barbara; Wheeler, Philip; White, Rachel L.; Worsfold, Nicholas T. and Lewis, Zenobia
Oikos, 130(1) (pp. 15-28)

Climate suitability predictions for the cultivation of macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia) in Malawi using climate change scenarios. (2021)
Zuza, Emmanuel; Maseyk, Kadmiel; Bhagwat, Shonil; De Sousa, Kaue; Emmott, Andrew; Rawes, Will and Araya, Yoseph
PLOS ONE ((Early access))

Does functional soil microbial diversity contribute to explain within-site plant beta-diversity in an alpine grassland and a dehesa meadow in Spain? (2017-09-01)
Araya, Yoseph N.; Bartelheimer, Maik; Valle, Cipriano J.; Crujeiras, Rosa M. and García-Baquero, Gonzalo
Journal of Vegetation Science, 28(5) (pp. 1018-1027)

Beyond ecosystem services: valuing the invaluable (2017-04)
Gunton, Richard M.; van Asperen, Eline; Basden, Andrew; Bookless, David; Araya, Yoseph; Hanson, David R.; Goddard, Mark A.; Otieno, George and Jones, Gareth O.
Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 32(4) (pp. 249-257)

Differences between urban and rural hedges in England revealed by a citizen science project (2016-07-22)
Gosling, Laura; Sparks, Tim H.; Araya, Yoseph; Harvey, Martin and Ansine, Janice
BMC Ecology, 16, Article 15(1) (pp. 45-55)

Contributions of paraecologists and parataxonomists to research, conservation, and social development (2016-06)
Schmiedel, Ute; Araya, Yoseph; Bortolotto, Maria Ieda; Boeckenhoff, Linda; Hallwachs, Winnie; Janzen, Daniel; Kolipaka, Shekhar S.; Novotny, Vojtech; Palm, Matilda; Parfondry, Marc; Smanis, Athanasios and Toko, Pagi
Conservation Biology, 30(3) (pp. 506-519)

Climate Change Impacts on Hydrological Niches of Restionaceae Species in Jonkershoek, South Africa (2016-03-30)
Guo, Danni; Midgley, Guy F.; Araya, Yoseph N.; Silvertown, Jonathan and Musil, Charles F.
Journal of Water Resource & Hydraulic Engineering, 5(1) (pp. 20-28)

Hydrological niches in terrestrial plant communities: a review (2015-01-07)
Silvertown, Jonathan; Araya, Yoseph and Gowing, David
Journal of Ecology, 103(1) (pp. 93-108)

Preparing for an interdisciplinary future: a perspective from early-career researchers (2013-09)
Bridle, Helen; Vrieling, Anton; Cardillo, Monica; Araya, Yoseph and Hinojosa-Valencia, Leonith
Futures, 53 (pp. 22-32)

Does soil nitrogen availability mediate the response of grassland composition to water regime? (2013-05)
Araya, Yoseph N.; Gowing, David J. and Dise, N.
Journal of Vegetation Science, 24(3) (pp. 506-517)

Quantifying soil hydrology to explain the development of vegetation at an ex-arable wetland restoration site (2013-04)
Stroh, Peter A.; Mountford, Owen; Araya, Yoseph N. and Hughes, Francine M. R.
Wetlands, 33(2) (pp. 311-320)

Raising Awareness about Water Issues: The Role of Water Symbolism and Proverbs (2013)
Sindik, Joško and Araya, Yoseph Negusse
Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 5(4A) (pp. 34-39)

Do niche-structured plant communities exhibit phylogenetic conservatism? A test case in an endemic clade (2012-11)
Araya, Yoseph N.; Silvertown, Jonathan; Gowing, David J.; McConway, Kevin J.; Linder, H. P. and Midgley, Guy
Journal of Ecology, 100(6) (pp. 1434-1439)

Experimental investigation of the origin of fynbos plant community structure after fire (2012)
Silvertown, Jonathan; Araya, Yoseph N.; Linder, H. Peter and Gowing, David J.
Annals of Botany, 110(7) (pp. 1377-1383)

A fundamental, eco-hydrological basis for niche segregation in plant communities (2011-01)
Araya, Yoseph N.; Silvertown, Jonathan; Gowing, David J.; McConway, Kevin J.; Linder, H. Peter and Midgley, Guy
New Phytologist, 189(1) (pp. 253-258)

Variation in δ13C among species and sexes in the family Restionaceae along a fine-scale hydrological gradient (2010-11)
Araya, Yoseph; Silvertown, Jonathan; Gowing, David; McConway, Kevin; Linder, Peter and Midgley, Guy
Austral Ecology, 35(7) (pp. 818-824)

Nitrogen mineralization from cabbage crop residue and its uptake efficiency by rye grass (2010-01)
Araya, Yoseph Negusse; De Neve, Stefaan and Hofman, Georges
Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B - Plant Soil Science, 60(1) (pp. 33-39)

A controlled water-table depth system to study the influence of fine-scale differences in water regime for plant growth (2010-01)
Araya, Yoseph N.; Gowing, David J. and Dise, Nancy
Aquatic Botany, 92(1) (pp. 70-74)

Understanding how water resources shape our flora (2009-06)
Araya, Yoseph and Walker, Nick
Veld and Flora, 95(2) (pp. 96-97)

Linking 'citizen scientists' to professionals in ecological research, examples from Namibia and South Africa (2009)
Araya, Yoseph N.; Schmiedel, Ute and von Witt, Caitlin
Conservation Evidence, 6 (pp. 11-17)

Global public water education: the World Water Monitoring Day experience (2006-12)
Araya, Yoseph Negusse and Moyer, Edward H.
Journal of Applied Environmental Education and Communication, 5(4) (pp. 263-267)

Young peoples' involvement in global water issues (2004-06)
Araya, Yoseph Negusse and Kabakian, Vahakn
Futures, 36(5) (pp. 603-609)

Using Citizen Science to Raise Public Awareness and Engagement with Water Issues (2020-04)
Araya, Yoseph
In: Maurice, Patricia A. ed. Encyclopedia of Water: Science,Technology and Society
ISBN : 978-1-119-30075-5 | Publisher : John Wiley & Sons Inc. (In Press)

Hydrosphere (2020-04)
Araya, Yoseph
In: Maurice, Patricia A. ed. Encyclopedia of Water: Science,Technology and Society
ISBN : 978-1-119-30075-5 | Publisher : John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Agriculture and food (2015-07)
Araya, Yoseph; Dorward, Andrew; Gideon, Jasmine; Kock, Richard; Smith, Laurence and Waage, Jeff
In: Waage, Jeff and Yap, Chris eds. Thinking Beyond Sectors for Sustainable Development (pp. 45-50)
ISBN : 978-1-909188-42-6 | Publisher : Ubiquity Press | Published : London

Evolution of hydrological niches in Restionaceae: a project update (2008)
Araya, Y. N.; Silvertown, J.; Linder, H. P; Gowing, D. J.; Midgley, G. F. and McConway, K. J.
In: Mucina, L.; Kalwij, J. M.; Smith, V. R.; Chytry, M.; White, P. S.; Cilliers, S. S.; Pillar, V. D.; Zobel, M. and Sun, I-Fang eds. Frontiers of Vegetation Science - An evolutionary angle (pp. 15-16)
ISBN : 9780958476690 | Publisher : Keith Phillips Images | Published : Somerset West

Ecology of Water Relations in Plants (2007-03)
Araya, Yoseph Negusse
In: Encyclopaedia of life sciences [26 vol. set]
ISBN : 9780470066515 | Publisher : Wiley

Hydrosphere (2005)
Araya, Yoseph Negusse
In: Lehr, Jay H and Keeley, Jack eds. Water Encyclopedia
ISBN : 9780471441649 | Publisher : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. | Published : USA

iSpot: a citizen science platform for inclusive learning and teaching (2018-06-03)
Ansine, Janice; Araya, Yoseph; Dodd, Michael and Robinson, David
In : European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) Conference 2018 (3-5 Jun 2018, Geneva, Switzerland)