Prof Nikki James

Prof. Nikki James
Prof. Nikki James

Research Interests:

Global and climate change biology, estuarine and coastal fish ecology

Position: Senior Scientist, South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity; Visiting Professor, Nelson Mandela University & Rhodes University

Professor Nikki James joined NRF-SAIAB as a scientist in 2009.  Her research focuses primarily on the effects of global and climate change on coastal and estuarine fishes as well as the importance of different coastal habitats as nursery areas for juvenile marine fishes within shallow-water seascapes.

Prof. James uses two approaches to climate change research; the first is identifying patterns based on observation to detect shifts in species distributions, life history characteristics and abundance related to changing temperature, hydrology and extreme events. The second approach uses ecophysiology as a tool to understand the processes and to identify physiological mechanisms driving the response of fishes to changes in temperature and pH.

These studies have improved our understanding of the effect of climatic variability and extreme events on estuarine and coastal ecosystems, particularly in South Africa. Prof. James’ most recent work focuses on fish habitat ecology (how fish interact with their environment) using a mixed-method approach to assess habitat complexity and juvenile fish in shallow water seascapes in estuaries and the nearshore. The main aim is to assess habitat usage and connectivity of fish within shallow-water seascapes.

Click here to visit the Shallow-water seascape connectivity project website.



Institution and location


BSc. Zoology, Microbiology, Biochemistry

Rhodes University, Makhanda


BSc. (Hons) (cum laude) Environmental Science

University of Natal, Durban


MSc. (cum laude) Biology

University of Natal, Durban


PhD. Ichthyology

Rhodes University, Makhanda


SACNASP Prof Nat Sci No. is 129184


Google Scholar Profile


Twitter: @SeascapeEcolSA

Instagram: @SeascapeEcolSA

Prof Nikki James' Seascape Research Group