The Smith Lab is focused on understanding how humans impact marine ecosystems in both tropical and local environments and developing strategies for restoring or preserving these environments for future generations.
Members of the Smith Lab are performing experiments to identify ways to restore degraded environments and are participating in expeditions to remote parts of the world to document pristine, unimpacted coral reefs to set baselines and targets for conservation.
The Smith Lab is working both locally in California and on coral reefs in the central Pacific and Caribbean to document how ocean acidification is already or will soon affect the calcification and growth of marine plants, corals and other invertebrate species. Jennifer’s lab group includes postdoctoral researchers, PhD students, Master’s students from SIO and UCSD and several undergraduate interns and volunteers who are all interested in conducting research that is relevant to solving human induced problems in the ocean.
Jennifer and her students are collectively working to identify how local impacts (overfishing, different forms of pollution and the introduction of invasive species) as well as global impacts (climate change and ocean acidification) affect marine biodiversity and community structure.
The results from the research done by the Smith Lab provide an opportunity to examine possible solutions to some of the most pressing problems facing tropical coral reefs. By focusing beyond the immediate results of their experiments, Jennifer and her students are able to place their findings within a larger context of marine ecosystem restoration and protection. This persepective has allowed the Smith Lab to offer unique insights and important data that have been used by state agencies to develop, monitor, and evaluate the effectiveness of various management strategies on these imperiled ecosystems.
Much of the research that takes place in the Smith Lab has direct conservation revelance. Jennifer and her students strongly believe that in this day and age it is their responsibility as scientists to not just document the current status of marine ecosystems and the impacts that humans have had on them, but to identify ways that we may live more sustainably with these systems.
Members of the Smith Lab are committed to ensuring that their scientific results are communicated effectively to an audience beyond scientists. They believe that the results of their studies are only important if they can be translated to stakeholders such as the general public, policy makers, and natural resource management agencies in an effective way. Results are disseminated through websites, blogs, popular articles and local media outlets, and by leading workshops and training volunteers around the tropics.
“If enough species are extinguished, will the ecosystems collapse, and will the extinction of most other species follow soon afterword? The only answer anyone can give is: possibly. By the time we find out, however, it might be too late. One planet, one experiment.”
– E.O. Wilson
Meet the Scientist
Dr. Jennifer Smith is an Associate Professor in Marine Ecology and Conservation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She and the other members of her laboratory are focused on understanding how humans impact marine ecosystems in both tropical and temperate environments.
Jennifer and her students extend their science beyond the university setting and actively work to develop effective science based management and conservation strategies for restoring or preserving coastal marine habitats for future generations.
Members of the Smith Lab work collectively to identify how human activities impact marine biodiversity and community structure on both a local and global scale. In addition to studying the human induced problems facing marine habitats, Smith and her students are performing experiments to identify ways to restore degraded environments.
By participating in expeditions to remote parts of the world to document unimpacted coral reefs, the group is better able to understand how human activities induce ecosystem changes around the world and how best to react to restore health to these unique ecosystems.
As an example of this approach, research activities are currently underway both locally in California and on coral reefs in the central Pacific and Caribbean to document how one of the largest threats to our oceans: ocean acidification is already or will soon affect the calcification and growth of marine plants, corals, and other invertebrate species.