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Stephen D. A. Smith

Professor of Marine Science, National Marine Science Centre, Southern Cross University

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. Because little is known about the distribution and dynamics of marine biodiversity in Australia, especially in subtidal environments, much of my research focuses on measuring and monitoring diversity and determining the main factors that cause it to change - this includes both natural and human-induced impacts. This is a very broad area of research and my specific interests lie in the following key areas:

- Developing methods to measure and monitor biodiversity in a rigorous and cost-effective way;
- Measuring natural variation in communities - it is only by measuring this that we can effectively detect changes caused by human activities;
- Measuring and monitoring the effects of different types of human impact on marine communities (especially marine debris); and
- Identifying biodiversity hotspots (areas of high diversity that are also under threat) and, in collaboration with management agencies, facilitating their sustainable management;

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 Indonesia and SE Asia. My main interest is in marine invertebrates and especially the molluscs which are not only highly diverse, occurring in most if not all marine habitats, but also an excellent model group for studies of biodiversity and human impact.

Over the last decade I have focused strongly on developing citizen science programs to both develop community capacity and to deliver data to support marine management at a range of scales. This has included assessments of marine debris, as well as biodiversity assessments of charismatic groups of organisms (e.g. the Sea Slug Census program).

A list of my publications is available here