Professor P. Withers - Staff Profile

Professor Paul Withers
Professor of Geography

Thoday Building, Room F21


Tel: 01248 382631 (from U.K.)
+44 1248 382631 (International)


Responsibilities within SENRGY/BU

SENRGY Executive Committee Member


Qualifications and Membership of Professional Bodies

BSc. (Hons) Soil Science
PhD (Earth Sciences) Farming and Phosphorus Transfer
Member of the International Commission on Water Quality

Member of the Sustainable Phosphorus Research Coordination Network (RCN), USA

Associate Editor for Soil Use and Management

Research Interests

Paul Withers is Professor of Geography at Bangor University with research interests in sustainable nutrient use, nutrient accounting, catchment science and landscape management. His main research focus has been understanding phosphorus cycling in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, processes of phosphorus transfer across the land-water interface, eutrophication impacts of different phosphorus sources and associated mitigation strategies. Two major current projects are the development of strategies to improve the sustainability of phosphorus use in arable farming and understanding the coupling of C, N and P along the freshwater-estuarine continuum and links to eutrophication control.

He is a regular keynote speaker with over 60 peer-reviewed publications and an h index of 25. 


Recent Publications


MacDonald G.K, Jarvie H.P., Withers P.J.A., Doody D.G., Keeler B.L., Haygarth P.M., Johnson L.T., McDowell R.W., et al. 2016. Guiding phosphorus stewardship for multiple ecosystem services. Ecosystem Health and Sustainability 2(12), e01251.

Ockenden, M.C., Deasy, C.E., Benskin, C.M.H., Beven, K.J., Burke, S., Collins, A.L., Evans, R., Falloon, P.D., Forber, K.J. Hiscock, K.M., Holloway, M.J., Kahana, R., Macleod, C.J.A., Reaney, S.M., Snell, M.A., Villamizar, M.L., Wearing, C., Withers, P.J.A., Zhou, J.G. and Haygarth, P.M. 2016. Changing climate and nutrient transfers: Evidence from high temporal resolution concentration-flow dynamics in headwater catchments. Science of the Total Environment 548–549, 325-339.

Richards, S., Withers, P.J.A., Paterson, E. McRoberts, C.W. and Stutter, M. 2016. Temporal variability in domestic point source dischrages and their associated impact in receiving waters. Science of the Total Environment 571, 1275-1283.

Richards, S., Paterson, E., Withers, P.J.A. and Stutter, M. 2016. Septic tanks discharges as multi-pollutant hotspots in catchments. Science of the Total Environment 542(A), 854-863.

Doody, D.G., Withers P.J.A., Dils, R.M., McDowell, R.W., Smith, V., McElarney, Y.R., Dunbar, M. and Daly, D. 2016 Optimising land use for the delivery of catchment ecosystem services. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 14(6) 325–332

Rodrigues, M., Pavinato, P.S., Withers, P.J.A., Teles, A.P.B. and Herrera, W.F.B. 2016. Legacy phosphorus and no tillage agriculture in tropical oxisols of the Brazilian savanna. Science of the Total Environment 542 (2016) 1050–1061.

Rowe, H., Withers, P.J.A., Baas, P.,  Chan, N.L., Doody, D., Holiman, J., Jacobs, B., Li, H., MacDonald, G.K., McDowell, R., Sharpley, A., Shen, J., Taheri, W., Wallenstein, M. and Weintraub, M.N. 2016. Integrating legacy soil phosphorus into sustainable nutrient
management strategies for future food, bioenergy and water security. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems 104:393–412.

Talboys, P.J., Heppell, J., Roose, T., Healey, J.R., Withers, P.J.A., Jones, D.L. 2016. Struvite: a slow-release fertiliser for sustainable phosphorus management? Plant and Soil 401:109–123.

Withers, P.J.A., Flynn, N.J. and Warren, G.P. 2016. Are stabilized biosolids a eutrophication risk? Soil Use and Management 32 (Suppl. 1),138–148.

Withers, P.J.A., Flynn, N.J. and Warren, G.P. 2016. Sustainable management of biosolid phosphorus: A field study. Soil Use and Management 32 (Suppl. 1), 54–63.


Kleinman, P.J.A., Sharpley, A.N., Withers, P.J.A., Bergstrom, L., Johnson, L.T. and Doody, D.G. 2015. Implementing agricultural phosphorus science and management to combat eutrophication. AMBIO 44(Suppl. 2), S297–S310.

Withers, P.J.A., Elser, J.J., Hilton, J., Ohtake, H., Schipper, W. and van Dijk, K.C. 2015. Greening the global phosphorus cycle: How green chemistry can help achieve planetary P sustainability. Green Chemistry 17, 2087.

Richards, S., Paterson, E., Withers, P.J.A. and Stutter, M. 2015. Impacts of household chemicals on water quality through effluent discharges: combining chemical and behavioural data. Journal of Environmental Management 150, 427-434.

Withers, P.J.A., van Dijk, K.C., Neset, T-S.S., Nesme, T., Oenema, O., Rubæk, G.H., Schoumans, O.F., Smit, B. and Pellerin, S. 2015. Stewardship to tackle global phosphorus inefficiency: The case of Europe. AMBIO 44 (Suppl.), S193-S206.


Owen, D., Williams, A.P., Griffith, G.W. and Withers, P.J.A. 2014. Use of commercial bio-inoculants to increase agricultural production through improved phosphorus acquisition. Applied Soil Ecology 86, 41-54.

Withers, P.J.A., Jordan, P., May, L., Jarvie, H.P. and Deal, N.E. 2014. Do septic tanks pose a hidden threat to water quality? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 12(2), 123-130.

Withers, P.J.A., Neal, C., Jarvie, H.P. and Doody, D.G. 2014. Agriculture and eutrophication: Where do we go from here? Sustainability 6, 5853-5875.

Withers, P.J.A., Sylvester-Bradley, R., Jones, D.L., Healey, J.R. and Talboys, P.J. 2014. Feed the crop not the soil: rethinking phosphorus management in the food chain. Environmental Science and Technology 48, 6523-6530.

Talboys, P.J., Healey, J.R., Withers, P.J.A., Jones, D.L. 2014. Phosphate depletion modulates auxin transport in Triticum aestivium leading to altered root branching. Journal of Experimental Botany 65(17), 5023-5032.

Talboys, P.J., Owen, D.W., Healey, J.R., Withers, P.J.A., Jones, D.L. 2014. Auxin secretion by Bacillus amyloliquefaciens FZB42 both stimulates root exudation and limits phosphorus uptake in Triticum aestivium. BioMed Central Plant Biology 14, 51.

Gibbons JM, Williamson JC, Williams AP, Withers PJA, Hockley N, Harris IM, Hughes JW, Taylor RL, Jones DL, Healey JR (2014) Sustainable nutrient management at field, farm and regional level: soil testing, nutrient budgets and the trade-off between lime application and greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 188, 48-56.


Withers, P.J.A., Jordan, P., May, L., Jarvie, H.P. and Deal, N.E. (2013). Do septic tanks pose a hidden threat to water quality? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment (In press).

Jones, D.L., Cross, P., Withers, P.J.A., DeLuca, T.H., Robinson, D.A., Quilliam, R.S., Harris, I.M., Chadwick D.R. and Edwards-Jones, G. (2013). Nutrient stripping: the global disparity between food security and soil nutrient stocks. Journal of Applied Ecology 50, 851-862.

Jarvie, H.P., Sharpley, A.N., Withers, P.J.A., Scott, J.T., Haggard, B.E. and Neal, C. (2013). Phosphorus mitigation to control river eutrophication: Murky waters, inconvenient truths and ‘post-normal’ science. Journal of Environmental Quality 42: 295-304.

Sylvester-Bradley, R. and Withers, P.J.A. (2013). Innovation in Crop Nutrition. Proceedings of the International Fertiliser Society No. 700. IFS, Peterborough.



Dungait, JAJ, Cardenas, L., Blackwell, M., Wu, L., Withers, P.J.A., Bol, R., Chadwick, D., Murray, P.J., Macdonald, A., Whitmore, A.P., and Goulding, K. (2012). Advances in the understanding of nutrient dynamics and management in UK agriculture. Science of the Total Environment 434, 39-50.

Withers, P.J.A., May, L., Jordan, P., Doody, D., Foy, R.H., Bechmann, M., Orback, C. and Cooksley, S. (2012). Nutrient emissions from septic tank systems in catchments: Uncertainties and implications for policy. Environmental Science and Policy 24, 71-82.

Jarvie, H.P., Jickells, T.D., Skeffington, R. A. and Withers, P.J.A. (2012). Climate change and coupling of macronutrient cycles along the atmospheric, terrestrial, freshwater and estuarine continuum. Science of the Total Environment 434, 252-258. 


Withers, P.J.A. Jarvie, H.P. and Stoate, C. (2011). Quantifying the impact of septic tank systems on eutrophication risk in rural headwaters. Environment International 37, 644-653.


Hartikainen, H., Rasa, K. and Withers, P.J.A (2010). Phosphorus exchange properties of European soils and sediments derived from them. European Journal of Soil Science 61(6), 1033-1042.

Jarvie, H.P., Neal, C., Withers, P.J.A., Baker, D.B., Richards, R.P. and Sharpley, A.N. (2010).  Quantifying phosphorus retention and release in rivers and watersheds using Extended Endmember Mixing Analysis (E-EMMA). Journal of Environmental Quality 40, 492-504.

Neal, C., Jarvie, H.P., Withers, P.J.A., Whitton, B.A. and Neal, M. (2010). The strategic significance of wastewater sources to pollutant phosphorus levels in English rivers and to environmental management for rural, agricultural and urban catchments.  Science of the Total Environment 408, 1485-1500.

Jarvie, H.P., Withers, P.J.A., Bowes, M.J., Palmer-Felgate, E.J., Harper, D., Wasiak, K., Wasiak, P., Hodgkinson, R.A., Bates, A., Stoate, C., Neal, M., Whickham, H.D., Harman, S.A. and Armstrong, L.K. (2010). Streamwater phosphorus and nitrogen across a gradient in rural-agricultural land use intensity. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 135, 238–252.