Dr Melissa Marselle

Lecturer in Environmental Psychology
BA, MSc, PhD
+44 (0)1483 686913
36 AC 05


Areas of specialism

Environmental Psychology; Restorative environments; Health benefits of nature and biodiversity; Sustainability; Nature experiences

My qualifications

PhD Environmental Psychology
De Montfort University
MSc Environmental Psychology (Distinction)
University of Surrey
BA Psychology
Oregon State University

Affiliations and memberships

British Psychological Society
Chartered Member (CPsychol)
British Ecological Society
Ecosystem Service Partnership

Academic networks


    Research interests

    Research projects

    Research collaborations

    My teaching

    Courses I teach on


    My publications


    Beute, F., Andreucci, M.B., Lammel, A., Davies, Z., Glanville, J., Keune, H., Marselle, M., O’Brien, L., Olszewska-Guizzo, A., Remmen, R., Russo, A., de Vries, S. (2021). Green space in urban and peri-urban areas and mental health: which green space types and characteristics are most beneficial?
    In Green and blue spaces and mental health: new evidence and perspectives for action. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe.
    Uebel, K., Marselle, M., Dean, A.J., Rhodes, J., & Bonn, A. (2021). Urban green space soundscapes and their perceived restorativeness.
    People and Nature, 3, 756-769
    Marselle, M.R, Lindley, S.J., Cook, P.A. & Bonn, A. (2021). Biodiversity and Health in the Urban Environment.
    Current Environmental Health Reports, 8, 146–156
    View abstract View full publication
    Biodiversity underpins urban ecosystem functions that are essential for human health and well-being. Understanding how biodiversity relates to human health is a developing frontier for science, policy and practice. This article describes the beneficial, as well as harmful, aspects of biodiversity to human health in urban environments. Recent research shows that contact with biodiversity of natural environments within towns and cities can be both positive and negative to human physical, mental and social health and well-being. For example, while viruses or pollen can be seriously harmful to human health, biodiverse ecosystems can promote positive health and well-being. On balance, these influences are positive. As biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate, research suggests that its loss could threaten the quality of life of all humans. A key research gap is to understand—and evidence—the specific causal pathways through which biodiversity affects human health. A mechanistic understanding of pathways linking biodiversity to human health can facilitate the application of nature-based solutions in public health and influence policy. Research integration as well as cross-sector urban policy and planning development should harness opportunities to better identify linkages between biodiversity, climate and human health. Given its importance for human health, urban biodiversity conservation should be considered as public health investment.
    Purpose of reviewRecent findingsSummary
    Marselle, M., Hartig, T., Cox, D.T.C., de Bell, S., Knapp, S., Lindley, S., Triguero-Mas, M. ... & Bonn, A. (2021). Pathways linking biodiversity to human health: A conceptual framework.
    Environment International, 150, 106420.
    View abstract View full publication
    Biodiversity is a cornerstone of human health and well-being. However, while evidence of the contributions of nature to human health is rapidly building, research into how biodiversity relates to human health remains limited in important respects. In particular, a better mechanistic understanding of the range of pathways through which biodiversity can influence human health is needed. These pathways relate to both psychological and social processes as well as biophysical processes. Building on evidence from across the natural, social and health sciences, we present a conceptual framework organizing the pathways linking biodiversity to human health. Four domains of pathways—both beneficial as well as harmful—link biodiversity with human health: (i) reducing harm (e.g. provision of medicines, decreasing exposure to air and noise pollution); (ii) restoring capacities (e.g. attention restoration, stress reduction); (iii) building capacities (e.g. promoting physical activity, transcendent experiences); and (iv) causing harm (e.g. dangerous wildlife, zoonotic diseases, allergens). We discuss how to test components of the biodiversity-health framework with available analytical approaches and existing datasets. In a world with accelerating declines in biodiversity, profound land-use change, and an increase in non-communicable and zoonotic diseases globally, greater understanding of these pathways can reinforce biodiversity conservation as a strategy for the promotion of health for both people and nature. We conclude by identifying research avenues and recommendations for policy and practice to foster biodiversity-focused public health actions.
    Methorst, J., Bonn, A., Marselle, M., Böhning-Gaese, K., & Rehdanz, K. (2021). Species richness is positively related to mental health – A study for Germany.
    Landscape and Urban Planning, 211, 104084.
    View abstract View full publication
    Nature benefits human health. To date, however, little is known whether biodiversity relates to human health. While some local and city level studies show that species diversity, as a measure of biodiversity, can have positive effects, there is a lack of studies about the relationship between different species diversity measures and human health, especially at larger spatial scales. Here, we conduct cross-sectional analyses of the association between species diversity and human health across Germany, while controlling for socio-economic factors and other nature characteristics. As indicators for human health, we use the mental (MCS) and physical health (PCS) component scales of the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP, Short Form Health Questionnaire – SF12). For species diversity, we use species richness and abundance estimates of two species groups: plants and birds. We phrase the following hypotheses: plant and bird species are positively associated with mental and physical health (H1 & H3); bird abundance is positively related to mental health (H2). Our results demonstrate a significant positive relationship between plant and bird species richness and mental health across all model variations controlling for a multitude of other factors. These results highlight the importance for species diversity for people’s mental health and well-being. Therefore, policy makers, landscape planners and greenspace managers on the local and national level should consider supporting biodiverse environments to promote mental health and wellbeing. For this purpose, we propose to use species diversity measures as indicators for salutogenic (health promoting) characteristics of nature, landscape and urban green space
    Marselle, M.R., Bowler, D.E., Watzema, J., Eichenberg, D., Kirsten, T., & Bonn, A. (2020). Urban street tree biodiversity and antidepressant prescriptions.
    Scientific Reports, 10, 22445.
    View abstract View full publication
    Growing urbanisation is a threat to both mental health and biodiversity. Street trees are an important biodiversity component of urban greenspace, but little is known about their effects on mental health. Here, we analysed the association of street tree density and species richness with antidepressant prescribing for 9751 inhabitants of Leipzig, Germany. We examined spatial scale effects of street trees at different distances around participant’s homes, using Euclidean buffers of 100, 300, 500, and 1000 m. Employing generalised additive models, we found a lower rate of antidepressant prescriptions for people living within 100 m of higher density of street trees—although this relationship was marginally significant ( = 0.057) when confounding factors were considered. Density of street trees at further spatial distances, and species richness of street trees at any distance, were not associated with antidepressant prescriptions. However, for individuals with low socio-economic status, high density of street trees at 100 m around the home significantly reduced the probability of being prescribed antidepressants. The study suggests that unintentional daily contact to nature through street trees close to the home may reduce the risk of depression, especially for individuals in deprived groups. This has important implications for urban planning and nature-based health interventions in cities.
    Marselle, M.R., Turbe, A., Shwartz, A., Bonn, A., & Colléony, A. (2020). Addressing behavior in pollinator conservation policies to combat the implementation gap.
    Conservation Biology, 35(2), 610-622.
    View abstract View full publication
    Solutions for conserving biodiversity lie in changing people's behavior. Ambitious international and national conservation policies frequently fail to effectively mitigate biodiversity loss because they rarely apply behavior‐change theories. We conducted a gap analysis of conservation behavior‐change interventions advocated in national conservation strategies with the Behavior Change Wheel (BCW), a comprehensive framework for systematically characterizing and designing behavior‐change interventions. Using pollinator conservation as a case study, we classified the conservation actions listed in national pollinator initiatives in relation to intervention functions and policy categories of the BCW. We included all national‐level policy documents from the European Union available in March 2019 that focused on conservation of pollinators ( = 8). A total of 610 pollinator conservation actions were coded using in‐depth directed content analysis, resulting in the identification of 787 intervention function and 766 policy category codes. Overall, these initiatives did not employ the entire breadth of behavioral interventions. Intervention functions most frequently identified were education (23%) and environmental restructuring (19%). Least frequently identified intervention functions were incentivization (3%), and restriction (2%) and coercion were completely absent (0%). Importantly, 41% of all pollinator conservation actions failed to identify whose behavior was to be changed. Building on these analyses, we suggest that reasons for the serious implementation gap in national and international conservation policies is founded in insufficient understanding of which behavioral interventions to employ for most beneficial impacts on biodiversity and how to clearly specify the intervention targets. We recommend that policy advisors engage with behavior‐change theory to design effective behavior‐change interventions that underpin successful conservation policies.
    Irvine, K.N., Marselle, M.R., Melrose, A., & Warber, S.L (2020). Group Outdoor Health Walks Using Activity Trackers: Measurement and Implementation Insight from a Mixed Methods Feasibility Study.
    International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(7).
    View abstract View full publication
    Outdoor walking groups are nature-based interventions (NBIs) that promote health and wellbeing by modifying individual behaviour. The challenges of such NBIs include the motivation of inactive adults to participate and measurement issues. This feasibility study investigates a 12-week group outdoor health walk (GOHW) incorporating activity trackers and use of a holistic health and wellbeing measure, the Self-sasessment of Change (SAC) scale. A mixed methods design explored participant recruitment and retention, programme delivery, and measures of physical activity and health and wellbeing. Walker data included: pre-post questionnaires, daily step counts, and interviews. Programme delivery information included: weekly checklists, staff reflections, stakeholder meeting minutes, and a report. Thirteen adults (age 63–81, 76% female) joined and completed the activity tracker GOHW. Activity trackers motivated walkers to join and be more active but complicated programme delivery. Activity trackers allowed the quantification of physical activity and the SAC health and wellbeing measure was easy to use. By week 12, all participants met national physical activity guidelines. Clinically relevant changes on the SAC scale included: sleeping well, experiencing vibrant senses, and feeling energised, focused, joyful, calm and whole. Results illustrate the feasibility of using activity trackers to motivate engagement in and provide a measure of physical activity from GOHWs. The SAC scale offers a promising measure for nature–health research. A conceptual model is provided for the development of future large-scale studies of NBIs, such as group outdoor health walks
    Strunz, S., Marselle, M., & Schröter, M. (2019). Leaving the “sustainability or collapse” narrative behind.
    Sustainability Science, 14, 1717–1728.
    View abstract View full publication
    In this paper, we investigate the cogency of the “sustainability or collapse” narrative, that is, the notion that the current global civilization risks ecological overshoot-induced collapse. Combining different strands of literature, we put forward three arguments: First, for many empirical cases of past societies that purportedly “collapsed”, alternative interpretations, emphasizing resilience, transformation and reorganization are equally if not more plausible. Second, the “sustainability or collapse” narrative tends to be misleading insofar as it suggests that resource input constraints are the main sustainability challenge global civilization faces today. Instead, we argue that a stronger focus on system outputs and pollution is needed. Third, collapse-warnings are psychologically ineffective because they might induce fear and guilt, which leads to apathy not action. In consequence, we suggest that the sustainability agenda relies on positive framings that highlight the benefits from institutional and behavioral changes for human well-being. We illustrate our argument with two examples, water scarcity in Cape Town, South Africa and the German energy transition.
    Marselle, M.R., Warber, S.L. & Irvine, K.N. (2019). Growing Resilience through Interaction with Nature: Can Group Walks in Nature Buffer the Effects of Stressful Life Events on Mental Health?
    International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(6).
    View abstract View full publication
    Nature-based activities have been used as therapeutic interventions for those experiencing stress and mental ill health. This study investigates whether group walks could be a nature-based intervention to foster resilience, by buffering the effects of recent stressful life events on mental health. An observational research design with propensity score-matched samples compared the mental health of individuals who did (Nature Group Walkers, n = 1081) or did not (Non-Group Walkers, n = 435) attend nature group walks. A sub-sample of Frequent Nature Group Walkers (at least once per week, n = 631) was also investigated. Data were analyzed using multiple regression with an interaction term. All analyses were controlled for age, gender, and recent physical activity. Results showed that neither nature group walking, nor doing this frequently, moderated the effects of stressful life events on mental health. Using a main effects model, the positive associations of group walks in nature were at a greater magnitude than the negative associations of stressful life events on depression, positive affect, and mental well-being, suggesting an ‘undoing’ effect of nature group walks. Group walking schemes in natural environments may be an important public health promotion intervention for mental health
    Marselle, M.R., Stadler, S., Korn, H., Irvine, K.N., & Bonn, A. (Eds). (2019). Biodiversity and Health in the Face of Climate Change.
    Springer Nature: Cham, Switzerland.
    View abstract View full publication
    This edited open access book identifies and discusses biodiversity’s contribution to physical, mental and spiritual health and wellbeing. Furthermore, the book identifies the implications of this relationship for nature conservation, public health, landscape architecture and urban planning – and considers the opportunities of nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation. This transdisciplinary book will attract a wide audience interested in biodiversity, ecology, resource management, public health, psychology, urban planning, and landscape architecture. The emphasis is on multiple human health benefits from biodiversity - in particular with respect to the increasing challenge of climate change. This makes the book unique to other books that focus either on biodiversity and physical health or natural environments and mental wellbeing. The book is written as a definitive ‘go-to’ book for those who are new to the field of biodiversity and health. 
    Marselle, M.R. (2019). Theories of biodiversity and mental health and well-being relationships.
    In: Marselle, Stadler, Korn, Irvine and Bonn (Eds). Biodiversity and Health in the Face of Climate Change. Springer Nature.
    Marselle, M.R, Martens, D., Dallimer, M., & Irvine, K.N. (2019). Review of the mental health and well-being benefits of biodiversity. 
    In: Marselle, Stadler, Korn, Irvine and Bonn (Eds). Biodiversity and Health in the Face of Climate Change. Springer Nature. 
    Marselle, M.R, Stadler, J. Horst, K., Irvine, K.N. & Bonn, A. (2019). Biodiversity and health in the face of climate change - Perspectives for science, policy and practice.
    In: Marselle, Stadler, Korn, Irvine and Bonn (Eds). Biodiversity and Health in the Face of Climate Change. Springer Nature.
    Wilson, C. Broughan, C., & Marselle, M. (2019). A new framework for the design and evaluation of a learning institution’s student engagement activities.
    Studies in Higher Education, 44(11), 1931-1944.
    Beattie, G., Marselle, M., McGuire, L. & Litchfield, D (2017). Staying over-optimistic about the future: Uncovering attentional biases to climate change messages.
    Semiotica, 218, 21-64.
    Wilson, C. & Marselle, M. (2016). Insights from psychology about the design and implementation of energy interventions with the Behaviour Change Wheel.
    Energy Research & Social Science, 19, 177-191.
    View abstract View full publication
    Improving the design and implementation of interventions to encourage end-use energy efficiency has the potential to contribute a substantive reduction in carbon emissions. A plethora of behaviour change frameworks is available to guide policymakers and designers but none have been found to be comprehensive or well-used. A new framework – the Behaviour Change Wheel (BCW) – purports to be a useful aid for developing all types of behaviour change interventions. This paper assesses whether the BCW comprehensively describes programmes attempting to reduce energy consumption. To do this, components of behaviour change programmes as identified in four EU guidance documents were mapped onto the BCW. Most of the components discussed in the guidance could be readily coded to the BCW framework. The main energy policy under-represented in the BCW was energy price. Based on our work in this paper, we believe that the BCW offers a useful aid for the systematic design and development of behaviour change around end-use energy efficiency. We also propose that it may support development of a common lexicon for activities that can be rather vaguely described currently in energy efficiency guidance.
    Marselle, M., Irvine, K.N., Lorenzo-Arribas, A., & Warber, S.L. (2016). Does perceived restorativeness mediate the effects of perceived biodiversity and perceived naturalness on emotional well-being following group walks in nature?
    Journal of Environmental Psychology, 46, 217-232.
    View abstract View full publication
    Natural environments are associated with positive health and well-being. However, little is known about the influence of environmental qualities on well-being and the mechanisms underlying this association. This study explored whether perceived restorativeness and it subscales would mediate the effects of perceived biodiversity, perceived naturalness, walk duration and perceived intensity on emotional well-being. Participants ( = 127) of a national walking program in England completed pre- and post-walk questionnaires ( = 1009) for each group walk attended within a 13-week period. Multilevel mediation examined the hypothesised indirect effects. Perceived restorativeness mediated the effects of perceived bird biodiversity, perceived naturalness, and perceived walk intensity on positive affect, happiness and negative affect. The effect of walk duration on happiness was also mediated by perceived restorativeness. Perceived walk intensity had a direct effect on positive affect and happiness. Findings have implications for theory development, future biodiversity-health research and practitioners interested in designing restorative environments.
    Warber, S.L., Dehundy, A.A, Bialko, M.F, Marselle, M.R., & Irvine, K.N. (2015). Addressing Nature Deficit Disorder: A mixed methods study of young adults attending a wilderness science camp.
    Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Vol. 2015.
    View abstract View full publication
    . Rapid urbanization raises concern about chronic human health issues along with less frequent interaction with the natural world. “Nature-deficit disorder,” a nonclinical term, describes this potential impact on the well-being of youth. We conducted a mixed methods pilot study of young adults attending a four-week wilderness camp to investigate whether nature-based camp experiences would increase connection to nature and promote multiple dimensions of well-being.. Participants completed precamp ( = 46) and postcamp ( = 36) online questionnaires including nature-related and holistic well-being measures. Differences were investigated using paired-tests. Interviews ( = 16) explored camp experiences and social relations.. All nature-related measures—exposure, knowledge, skills, willingness to lead, perceived safety, sense of place, and nature connection—significantly increased. Well-being outcomes also significantly improved, including perceived stress, relaxation, positive and negative emotions, sense of wholeness, and transcendence. Physical activity and psychological measures showed no change. Interviews described how the wilderness environment facilitated social connections.. Findings illustrate the change in nature relations and well-being that wilderness camp experiences can provide. Results can guide future research agendas and suggest that nature immersion experiences could address the risk of “nature-deficit disorder,” improve health, and prepare future environmental leaders
    Background and Objectives Methodsnn tn Results Conclusion
    Marselle, M.R, Irvine, K.N., Lorenzo-Arribas, A., & Warber, S.L. (2015). Moving beyond green: Exploring the relationship of emotional well-being, environment type and indicators of environmental quality following group walks.
    International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12, 106-130
    View abstract View full publication
    Against the backdrop of increasing interest in the relationship between Nature and health, this study examined the effect of perceived environment type and indicators of perceived environmental quality on short-term emotional well-being following outdoor group walks. Participants ( = 127) of a national group walk program completed pre- and post-walk questionnaires for each walk attended ( = 1009) within a 13-week study period. Multilevel linear modelling was used to examine the main and moderation effects. To isolate the environmental from the physical activity elements, analyses controlled for walk duration and perceived intensity. Analyses revealed that perceived restorativeness and perceived walk intensity predicted greater positive affect and happiness following an outdoor group walk. Perceived restorativeness and perceived bird biodiversity predicted post-walk negative affect. Perceived restorativeness moderated the relationship between perceived naturalness and positive affect. Results suggest that restorative quality of an environment may be an important element for enhancing well-being, and that perceived restorativeness and naturalness of an environment may interact to amplify positive affect. These findings highlight the importance of further research on the contribution of environment type and quality on well-being, and the need to control for effects of physical activity in green exercise research.
    Marselle, M.R, Irvine, K.N., & Warber, S.L. (2014). Examining group walks in nature and multiple aspects of well-being: A large scale study.
    Ecopsychology, 6(3), 134-147.
    Marselle, M., Irvine, K.N., & Warber, S.L. (2013). Walking for well-being: Are group walks in certain types of natural environments better for well-being than group walks in urban environments?
    International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 10, 5603-5628
    Davey, C.L., Wootton, A.B., & Marselle, M. (2012). Engaging young people in designing against crime.
    Swedish Design Research Journal, 1, 29-38.
    W.J. Davies, M.D. Adams, N.S. Bruce, R. Cain, A. Carlyle, P. Cusack, D. Hall, K.I. Hume, A. Irwin, P. Jennings, M. Marselle, C.J. Plack, J. Poxon. (2013). Perception of soundscapes: A interdisciplinary approach.
    Applied Acoustics, 74(2), 224-231.
    Marselle, M., Wootton, A.B., & Hamilton, M.G. (2012). Designing out violence in the night-time economy: Evaluation of a pedestrianisation intervention.
    Security Journal, 25 (2), 116-133.
    View abstract View full publication
    This article describes the research, development, implementation and evaluation of a design against crime intervention aimed at reducing violence against the person offences in Manchester's Gay Village (UK). Research found that violent crime could be understood in terms of the use and design of the environment. Violence against the person offences peaked during the weekend night-time hours, which coincided with heavy footfall on narrow, non-pedestrianised streets. The design solution – to pedestrianise the area during the weekend nights – was implemented by Manchester city council and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) on a pilot basis. An initial evaluation by GMP analysts suggests that serious violent crime fell by one offence during the pilot period when compared to the month before. A survey of users of the area during the pilot period suggests that the intervention did not increase fear of crime and was well received by members of the public.
    Galea, ER ; Shields, TJ ; Canter, D ; Boyce, KE ; Day, R ; Hulse, L ; Asidiqqui, A ; Summerfield, L ; Marselle, M ; Greenall, P (2006). Methodologies employed in the collection, retrieval and storage of human factors information derived from first hand accounts of survivors of the WTC disaster of 11 September 2001.
    Journal of Applied Fire Science, 15(4), 253-276.