Keynote Speaker

Keynote Topic

Climate change effects on marine invasive species globally

Humans are changing Earth’s climate and ecological systems at unprecedented rates. Global drivers of change include overexploitation, habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution, invasive species, and human-driven climate change. The traditional approach to addressing these widespread stressors is to tackle each factor singularly. But this overly simplified yet practical way of doing things can lead to false conclusions about the nature of change in our oceans. Marine systems are frequently confronted with multiple stressors simultaneously that can potentially interact, resulting in effects that are not predictable from single stressor impacts. In my talk, I explore the interactions between climate change and invasive species in our oceans. I consider climate change effects on all stages of the invasion process, from initial transport to spread and impacts. Also, I question whether current strategies to manage marine invasive species will remain effective given a rapidly changing climate.

About our speaker

Dr. Nicola S. Smith is a Liber Ero Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia, Canada, and an Associate Editor for NeoBiota, a peer-reviewed, open access, online journal on biological invasions. Her current research focuses on climate change effects on marine invasive species, and its implications for ocean sustainability. She is also working with academia, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and Indigenous coastal communities to provide a framework for the Canadian ocean economy to contribute to net zero. Previously, she was a Bullitt Environmental Fellow and Postdoctoral Researcher at Simon Fraser University where she conducted marine invasive species risk analyses for the Caribbean.

Dr. Smith obtained a Hons. B.Sc. with High Distinction from the University of Toronto in 2006, where she double majored in English and Zoology. In 2010, she received a M.Sc. in Zoology from the University of British Columbia while in 2020 she obtained a Ph.D. in Biology from Simon Fraser University.

She has over a decade of experience researching various aspects of biological invasions, coral reef ecology, and tropical fisheries. She has published several studies on the Indo-Pacific lionfish invasion of the Caribbean and on unreported fisheries catches, particularly as it pertains to recreational fishing in the Global South. She has received numerous awards, including the 2018 Bullitt Environmental Prize, a graduate scholarship from the Organization of American States, and a professional development grant from the Society for Conservation Biology, Latin America and Caribbean Section. Dr Smith has headed two Global Environment Facility/United Nations Environment Programme (GEF/UNEP) funded projects on marine invasive species in the Caribbean.