Dr Rick Stuart-Smith is a research fellow with the Ecology and Biodiversity group in the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies and in the NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub. His research covers aspects of biogeography, community and macro-ecology, and studies of human impacts, such as pollution, exploitation, invasive species and climate change on marine fauna and flora. A major motivation for his research is to improve the way marine biodiversity is monitored, reported, managed and protected, through contributing to more ecologically-informed policy at larger scales, and guiding local management.
While completing his PhD at the University of Tasmania in 2006, he started work on a field-based project at the Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute, leading a small team of divers to survey rocky reef ecological communities at sites around the Tasmanian coastline and Bass Strait Islands. In late 2007, he and Graham Edgar founded the Reef Life Survey program (RLS), starting with a 3-year pilot project to test the effectiveness of training and supporting a national network of recreational divers to undertake detailed reef biodiversity surveys. RLS has since grown significantly, in Australia and internationally. Rick has dived and undertaken biodiversity surveys of rocky and coral reefs all around Australia, the eastern, central and western Pacific Ocean, in the Mediterranean, Atlantic, Caribbean, Red Sea, and Indian Ocean. He has trained over 200 divers to undertake RLS surveys, and participated in collaborative field research with the Smithsonian Institution and international NGOs such as the Wildlife Conservation Society and Fauna and Flora International. His research primarily revolves around field-collected marine biodiversity data, and incorporates first-hand experience with a diversity of marine environments and faunas.