Jennifer Smith

Assistant Professor in Marine Ecology and Conservation Jennifer Smith

Office: 2160 Hubbs Hall
Lab: 2255 Hubbs Hall
Phone: 858-246-0803
Fax: 858-822-2167

Dowload CV 2014  (pdf)

Research overview

My research focuses on understanding the factors (natural, anthropogenic, physical & biological) that influence community structure in benthic marine ecosystems. While I conduct research in a number of different systems, both pristine and degraded, my primary interests lie in determining how different anthropogenic impacts affect coral reef community structure. When coral reefs undergo degradation, a "phase-shift" usually occurs where reef-building corals are replaced by fleshy macroalgae. Phase-shifts are often considered to be irreversible and the end result is a macroalgal dominated community that lacks the diversity, complexity and structure necessary to support a typical reef assemblage. I have and continue to study various anthropogenic factors that cause phase shifts from algae on coral coral to algal dominance. Specifically my research focuses on the importance of herbivory (or overfishing) and increased nutrient concentrations (in association with pollution from land) in maintaining the competitive balance between algae and coral. Further I study the dynamics of introduced and invasive marine species, specifically seaweeds. With this work I have taken a holistic approach by trying to understand a) why these invaders are so successful in their invaded environments, b) what impacts they have on native communities and c) what management options will be useful in controlling their abundance in the invaded habiatas. I have a long-term interest in seaweed invasions especially as related to intentional introductions for the aquaculture industry. My research often goes beyond basic ecology by integrating conservation, restoration, management and sustainability. More recently I have been investigating the interactions of microbes and macrobes on coral reefs and have shown that these indirect interactions may be highly important to overall community structure and function. In the future I plan to begin investigating the potential for reef restoration in an effort to understand if phase-shift reversal is possible.


Elser, J.J., M.E. Bracken, E.E Cleland, , D.S Gruner, W.S. Harpole, Hillebrand, H., J.T. Ngai, E.W. Seabloom, J.B. Shurin, J.E. Smith (Accepted) A global analysis of nitrogen and phosphorus limitation of primary producers in freshwater, marine, and terrestrial ecosystems. Ecology Letters.

Williams, S.L. and J.E. Smith. (In Press) Distribution and Impact of Introduced Marine Plants around the World. Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics 38.

Hillebrand, H., D.S. Gruner, M.E. Bracken, E.E. Cleland, J.J. Elser, W.S. Harpole, J.T. Ngai, E.W. Seabloom, J.B. Shurin, J.E. Smith. (2007) Plant community structure and ecosystem productivity regulate the intrinsic control of plant diversity across major ecosystem types. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 104(26): 10904-10909.

Smith, J. E., M. Shaw, R. A. Edwards, D. Obura, D., O. Pantos, E. Sala, S. A. Sandin, S. Smriga, M. Hatay, F. L. Rohwer (2006) Indirect effects of algae on coral: algae-mediated, microbe-induced coral mortality. Ecology Letters 9: 835-845.

Schaffelke, B., J. E. Smith & C. L. Hewitt (2006) Introduced macroalgae- a growing concern. Proceedings of the International Seaweed Symposium J. Appl. Pycol. 18: 529-541.

G. C. Zuccarello, A.T. Critchley, J. E. Smith & J. A. West (2006) Systematics and genetic variation in commercial Kappaphycus and Eucheuma (Solieriaceae, Rhodophyta). Proceedings of the International Seaweed Symposium. J. Appl. Phycol.

Smith, J. E., J. W. Runcie and C. M. Smith (2005) Bloom dynamics and physiological ecology of the invasive green alga Cladophora sericea on West Maui.  Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 302: 77-91.

Conklin, E. J. and J. E. Smith (2005) Increases in abundance and development of management options for the invasive red alga Kappaphycus in Kane ohe Bay, Hawai i. Biological Invasions 7: 1029-1039.

Smith, J. E., C. Smith, P. Vroom, K. Beach, S. Miller (2004) Nutrient dynamics of the green alga Halimeda tuna on Conch Reef, Florida Keys: possible influence of internal tides on nutrient status and physiology. Limnology and Oceanography 49(6): 1923-1936.

Smith, J. E., R. Most, T. Sauvage, C. Hunter, C. Squair and E. Conklin (2004) Ecology of the invasive red alga Gracilaria salicornia in Waikiki and possible mitigation strategies. Pacific Science 58(2) 325-343.

Vroom, P. S., C. M. Smith, J. A. Coyer, L. J. Walters, C. L. Hunter, K. S. Beach, J. E. Smith (2003) Field biology of Halimeda tuna (Bryopsidales, Chlorophyta) across a depth gradient: comparative growth, survivorship, recruitment, and reproduction.  Hydrobiologia 501(1): 149-166.

Runcie, J. W. and J. E. Smith (2003) Introduction to special issue: Nutrient dynamics in coastal ecosystems-linking physical and biological processes. Journal of Marine Systems 42(3-4): 81-82.

Smith, J. E., C. L. Hunter and C. M. Smith (2002) Distribution and reproductive characteristics of nonindigenous and invasive marine algae in the Hawaiian Islands. Pacific Science 56(3): 299-315.

Vroom, P.  S., J. E. Smith and C. M. Smith (2001) Observations of reproduction in Rhipidosiphon javensis (Halimedineae, Bryopsidales) in Hawai i. Phycologia 40(1): 97-100.

Smith, J. E., C. L. Hunter and C. M. Smith (2001) The effects of herbivory and nutrient enrichment on benthic community structure and development on a Hawaiian Reef. Coral Reefs 19: 332-342.


Diaz-Pulido, G. M., L. J. McCook, A. W. D. Larkum, H. Lotze, J. A. Raven, B. Schaffelke, J. E. Smith, R. S. Steneck (In Review) Impacts of Global Climate Change on Macroalgae of the Great Barrier Reef: A Vulnerability Assessment. In Assessing Climate Change Vulnerability of the Great Barrier Reef.

Smith, J. E., H. Spalding, R. Okano & C. M. Smith (In Press) Seaweed communities of Molokai. In An Atlas of the Molokai. USGS publication.

Zemke-White, W. L. and J. E. Smith (2006) Environmental impacts of seaweed farming in the tropics. In World Seaweed Resources.

Friedlander, A. , G. Aeby, E. Brown, A. Clark, S. Coles, S. Dollar, D. Gulko, C. Hunter, P. Jokiel,   J. E. Smith, B. Walsh, I. Williams and W. Wiltse (2005) The Status of the Coral Reef Ecosystems of the Main Hawaiian Islands. In The Status of the Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States.


Smith, J.E. (2006) Algal blooms on Maui. A final report to the City and County of Maui and the Environmental Protection Agency. 75 pp.

Smith, J. E. (2003) Factors influencing the formation of algal blooms on tropical reefs with an emphasis on nutrients, herbivores and invasive species. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Hawaii, Manoa, 425 pp.

Coles, S.L., R.C. DeFelice, J.E. Smith, D. Muir & L.G. Eldredge (1998) Determination of baseline conditions for introduced marine species in near shore waters of the island Kaho olawe, Hawai'i. Bishop Museum Technical Report No. 14.<