Nicola S. Smith

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

About me

I am a postdoctoral researcher and Bullitt Environmental Fellow at Simon Fraser University, BC, Canada. My postdoctoral research focuses on reconstructing the sponge fishery of The Bahamas over the past 180 years. I am also an Associate Editor for NeoBiota, a peer-reviewed, open access, online journal where I focus on marine invasions.

I obtained a Hons. B.Sc. with High Distinction from the University of Toronto in 2006, where I double majored in English and Zoology. In 2010, I received a M.Sc. in Zoology from the University of British Columbia while in 2019 I obtained a Ph.D. in Biology from Simon Fraser University.

I have 10 years of experience researching various aspects of biological invasions, coral reef ecology, and data-limited fisheries. I have published several studies on the Indo-Pacific lionfish invasion of the Caribbean and on unreported fisheries catches, particularly in the tropics. I have received numerous awards, including the Bullitt Environmental Prize, a graduate scholarship from the Organization of American States, and a professional development scholarship from the Society for Conservation Biology, Latin America and Caribbean Section. I headed two Global Environment Facility/United Nations Environment Programme (GEF/UNEP) funded projects on invasive species. My first project involved creating a series of pilot experiments to control invasive, Indo-Pacific lionfish in coastal waters of The Bahamas. The current project involves conducting a risk assessment of potential marine invasive species for Barbados and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.
About me


Invasive species

I am interested in both conceptual and applied approaches to marine invasions.

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Data-limited tropical fisheries

I use data from a variety of non-traditional information sources to reconstruct fish and invertebrate catches from typically unreported sectors and/or taxa over time periods ranging from 50 to almost 200 years.

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Coral reef ecology

Broadly, I am interested in the factors that shape community structure on coral reefs.

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​​​​Peer-reviewed Articles

Smith NS and Côté IM. Potential biotic resistance on coral reefs? Direct and indirect effects of native predators on invasive lionfish. Coral Reefs (in review)

Smith NS, Côté IM and Shurin JB. Effective marine invaders are slow colonizers of newly created habitat. Ecology (In revision)

Freire KMF, Belhabib D, Espedido JC, Hood L, Kleisner KM, Lam VWL, Machado ML, Mendonça JT, Meeuwig JJ, Moro PS, Motta FS, Palomares MLD, Smith N, Teh L, Zeller D, Zylich K and Pauly D (2020) Estimating global catches of marine recreational fisheries. Frontiers in Marine Science 7:12. doi:10.3389/fmars.2020.00012

Francis FT, Howard BR, Berchtold AE, Branch TA, Chaves LCT, Dunic, JC, Favaro B, Jeffrey KM, Malpica-Cruz L, Maslowski N, Schultz JA, Smith NS and Côté IM (2019) Shifting headlines? Trends in sizes of newsworthy fishes. PeerJ 7:e6395 doi:10.7717/peerj.6395

Smith NS and Côté IM (2019) Multiple drivers of contrasting diversity-invasibility relationships at fine spatial grains. Ecology 100(2): e02573

Côté IM and Smith NS (2018) The lionfish invasion: Has the worst-case scenario come to pass? Journal of Fish Biology 92:660-689. doi:10.1111/jfb.13544

Smith NS, Côté IM, Martinez-Estevez L, Hind-Ozan E, Quiros A, Johnson N, Green SJ, Cornick L, Shiffman D, Malpica-Cruz L, Gleason Besch A and Shiel-Rolle N (2017) Diversity and inclusion in conservation: a proposal for a marine diversity network. Frontiers in Marine Science 4:234. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2017.00234

Malpica-Cruz L, Haider W, Smith NS, Fernández-Lozada S and Côté IM (2017) Heterogeneous attitudes towards lionfish in the Mexican Caribbean: implications for invasive species management. Frontiers in Marine Science 4:138. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2017.00138

Smith NS, Green SJ, Akins JL, Miller S and Côté IM (2017) Density-dependent colonization and natural disturbance limit the effectiveness of invasive lionfish culling efforts. Biological Invasions 19:2385-2399. doi: 10.1007/s10530-017-1449-6

Smith NS and Zeller D (2016) Unreported catch and tourist demand on local fisheries of small island states: the case of The Bahamas, 1950-2010. Fishery Bulletin 114:117-131. doi:10.7755FB.114.1.10

Hind EJ, Alexander SM, Green SJ, Kritzer JP, Sweet MJ, Johnson AE, Amargós FP, Smith NS and Peterson AM (2015) Fostering effective international collaboration for marine science in small island states. Frontiers in Marine Science 2:86. doi:10.3389/fmars.2015.00086

Côté IM, Darling ES, Malpica-Cruz L, Smith NS, Green SJ, Curtis-Quick J, Layman C (2014) What doesn’t kill you makes you wary? Effect of repeated culling on the behaviour of an invasive predator. PLoS ONE 9(4): e94248. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094248

Other contributions

Smith NS and Zeller D (2016) Bahamas. In: D. Pauly and D. Zeller (eds) Global Atlas of Marine Fisheries: A Critical Appraisal of Catches and Ecosystem Impacts. Island Press, Washington D.C.

Smith NS and Zeller D (2013) Bahamas reconstruction: fisheries trends in a tourism-driven economy (1950-2010). UBC Fisheries Centre Working Paper #2013-08, Vancouver (Canada). 29 p.

Ramdeen R, Harper S, Frotté L, Lingard S, Smith N, Zylich K, Zeller D and Pauly D (2012) Reconstructed total catches by the marine fisheries of small island states in the wider Caribbean (1950-2010) In: Proceedings of the 65th Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, pp. 69-75.

Smith NS (2011) Lionfish invasion: an opportunity for collaboration, creativity and growth in marine conservation. Sea Around Us Newsletter, Jan./Feb. (63): 3-4.

Sullivan Sealy K, Anderson L, Stewart D and Smith N (2008) The invasion of Indo-Pacific lionfish in The Bahamas: Challenges for a national response plan. In: Proceedings of the 61st Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, pp. 404-408.

Smith NS and Sullivan Sealey KS (2007) The lionfish invasion in The Bahamas: What do we know and what to do about it? In: Proceedings of the 60th Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, pp. 419-423.