Nicola S. Smith

Liber Ero Postdoctoral Research Fellow

About me


I am a Liber Ero Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Changing Oceans Research Unit, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia and an Associate Editor for NeoBiota, a peer-reviewed, open access, online journal on biological invasions. My current research focuses on assessing the risks caused by marine invasive species in the three oceans surrounding Canada under various climate change scenarios. I also aim to identify strategies to help Canadian coastal communities monitor, manage and/or adapt to these threats. Previously, I was a Bullitt Environmental Fellow and postdoctoral researcher at Simon Fraser University where I reconstructed the sponge fishery of The Bahamas over the past 180 years and conducted marine invasive species risk analyses for the Caribbean.

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 2020 I obtained a Ph.D. in Biology from Simon Fraser University.

I have over 10 years of experience researching various aspects of biological invasions, coral reef ecology, and tropical fisheries. I have published several studies on the Indo-Pacific lionfish invasion of the Caribbean and on unreported fisheries catches, particularly as it pertains to recreational fishing. I have received numerous awards, including the 2018 Bullitt Environmental Prize, a graduate scholarship from the Organization of American States, and a professional development grant from the Society for Conservation Biology, Latin America and Caribbean Section. I have headed two Global Environment Facility/United Nations Environment Programme (GEF/UNEP) funded projects on marine invasive species in the Caribbean.
About me

Research


Invasive species

I am interested in both conceptual and applied approaches to marine invasions. Currently, I'm investigating the interactions between marine invasive species and climate change.

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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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Outreach


How fear of being eaten might help keep invasive lionfish from taking over reefs

How fear of being eaten might help keep invasive lionfish from taking over reefs

Lionfish have few natural predators in their invaded range. Learn how lionfish fear of Caribbean groupers may help save coral reefs in this article for The Conversation Canada.

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How and why I became a Marine Ecologist.

How and why I became a Marine Ecologist.

In celebration of Black History Month, listen to this brief interview with Science World, Vancouver, about how and why I became a Marine Ecologist. I promise that there will be interesting anecdotes!

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The True Extent of Fishing in The Bahamas

The True Extent of Fishing in The Bahamas

In this 'sneak peak' to the movie, "An Ocean Mystery: The Missing Catch," in which I am featured, I talk about the impact of tourism on the demand for local fish in The Bahamas.

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An Ocean Mystery: The Missing Catch

An Ocean Mystery: The Missing Catch

This movie highlights some of my research done in collaboration with the Sea Around Us at the University of British Columbia, BC, Canada. It shows some of the process involved in gathering data to reconstruct unreported fisheries for The Bahamas from 1950 to 2010.

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The Trouble with Lionfish Control

The Trouble with Lionfish Control

My research on the ecological effectiveness of culling lionfish on coral reefs in The Bahamas is featured in an article written by Brandon Keim for Anthropocene Magazine.

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Should we eat lionfish to control their numbers?

Should we eat lionfish to control their numbers?

In an interview with the BBC World Service, CrowdScience radio and podcast series, I talk about some of the nuisances about creating a commercial fishery for invasive lionfish in the Caribbean.

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Envisioning the past, present and future of the sponge fishery of The Bahamas

Envisioning the past, present and future of the sponge fishery of The Bahamas

The history of the sponge fishery in The Bahamas is riddled with periods of fantastic growth, overexploitation, and population collapse. Learn about my quest to reconstruct this fishery over the past 180 years. See the link below starting at 50:20

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Publications


Publications
Peer-reviewed Articles

Pauly D, Smith NS and Butler M. Growth and related traits of the sheep wool sponge, Hippospongia lachne: practical and theoretical considerations. Fishery Bulletin (In review)

Smith NS, Côté IM and Shurin JB. Invasive lionfish are slow colonizers of newly created habitat. Biological Invasions (In revision)

Davies SW, Putman HM, Ainsworth TD, Baum JK, Bove CB, Crosby SC, Côté IM, Duplouy A, Fulweiler RW, Griffin AJ, Hanley TC, Hill TM, Humanes A, Mangubhai S, Metaxas A, Parker LM, Rivera HE, Silbiger NJ, Smith NS, Spalding AK, Traylor-Knowles N, Weigel BL, Wright RM and Bates A (2021) Promoting inclusive metrics of success and impact to dismantle a discriminatory reward system in science. PLoS Biology 19(6): e3001282.
 
Smith NS and Côté IM (2021) Biotic resistance on coral reefs? Direct and indirect effects of native predators and competitors on invasive lionfish. Coral Reefs https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-021-02117-7
 
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
              * Media: Anthropocene Magazine, “The trouble with lionfish control” 28 June 2017

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
            * Media: Sport Fishing Magazine, “Bahamas Considers Granting Commercial Fishing Rights to Chinese” 14 Nov 2016      
            * Media: Inter Press Service (IPS) News Agency, “One Fish, Two Fish, No Fish: Rebuilding of Fish Stocks Urgently Needed” 21 Jan 2016

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

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