SCU Staff Directory

Stephen Smith
Professor Stephen Smith
Current Appointment: Adjunct Professor
Organisational Unit: Faculty of Science and Engineering

Telephone: +61 2 66598108
Location: National Marine Science Centre
Personal Website

I am a marine benthic ecologist with primary interests in the amazing biodiversity that can be found in our marine and estuarine environments. Much of this diversity is under threat from a wide range of human impacts and I am dedicated to understanding these impacts with a view to fostering long-term sustainability. In particular, this research focuses on marine debris through quantifying existing loads, monitoring accumulation rates, and implementing effective management and mitigation solutions. Because little is known about the distribution and dynamics of marine biodiversity in Australia, especially in subtidal environments, much of my biodiversity research focuses on documenting diversity and distribution patterns with the assistance of community volunteers (citizen scientists) - for the example the Sea Slug Census program. These studies are essential to provide baselines against which human-induced change can be measured. My specific interests lie in the following key areas:

- Developing methods to measure and monitor biodiversity in a rigorous and cost-effective way;

- Applying these methods to fill knowledge gaps about biodiversity;

- Measuring natural variation in communities;

- Measuring and monitoring the effects of different types of human impact on marine communities (especially marine debris);

- Identifying biodiversity hotspots and facilitating their sustainable management;

- Investigating the reasons why some locations have higher diversity than others; and

- Predicting future impacts based on an understanding of the dynamics of the target communities.

Much of my work focuses on the highly diverse communities associated with subtropical reefs on the east coast of Australia. However, I am also actively involved in research in tropical SE Asia and especially Indonesia. My main interest is in marine invertebrates and especially the molluscs. This latter group are not only highly diverse, occurring in most if not all marine habitats, but they are also an excellent model group for studies of biodiversity, human impact and changing distribution patterns.