The Graduate Program in

L. David Smith

Professor of Biological Sciences, Smith College

Ph.D., University of Maryland

Research Interests

Biological invasions occur when species establish populations outside their native range. The phenomenon is global in scale and typically results from human activities associated with trade. Introduced organisms threaten biodiversity by competing with or preying on native species, by altering habitat and by disrupting ecological processes. Despite their impacts, we have limited understanding of general patterns, transport processes, or ecological consequences associated with invasions, particularly in marine systems. To address this problem, research in my laboratory focuses on two aspects of marine biological invasions. First, we seek to identify shipping and non-shipping mechanisms that transfer non-native marine species and understand how they operate. For example, we are examining the movement of live marine species by the seafood, bait, and marine ornamentals industries. Second, we are testing for morphological and ecological responses by invaders and native organisms to each other after an introduction has occurred. In particular, we are interested in whether short-term arms races arise as introduced predators alter their feeding structures to counter induced defensive responses by native prey.