Josh Smith, PhD Student
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The overarching theme of my research focuses on patterns, processes, and interactions between organisms that shape the structure and function of kelp forest communities. I am particularly interested in the spatial dynamics of nearshore fish species, the recovery of communities to natural and anthropogenic disturbances, and interactions between ecological communities and resource users. A common goal of my research is to apply these fundamental ecological questions to developing innovative conservation techniques. Examples include quantifying species interactions strengths and developing dynamic network models that incorporate our understanding of habitat-species linkages, landscape ecology, and human perturbations on marine systems.
For my undergraduate thesis at CSU Monterey Bay, I studied the habitat associations of demersal (seafloor oriented) fishes inside of the La Jolla and Scripps submarine canyons (southern California). I used a remotely operated vehicle to survey the steep canyon walls. The ROV recorded fish observations, water chemical parameters, habitat type, and GPS. These data were paired with fine-scale (<1m) bathymetry data from a statewide monitoring project and used to generate species-habitat association maps. Results from this study were included in a Sea Grant baseline characterization report of southern California Marine Protected Areas (Click here to see the technical report).