Ralph E.H. Smith carries out research on water quality and food web function in lakes with special attention to primary producers (phytoplankton, attached algae), nutrients, and the environmental processes behind issues of current concern (lake anoxia, problem blooms, shoreline fouling, etc.).
New and emerging tools and technologies for assessing the distribution and ecological functioning of phytoplankton and benthic algae are central objects of attention. The Smith lab is a centre of expertise in the use of spectral and variable fluorescence in aquatic science.
Office: B2 250A
Phone: 519-888-4567, ext. 32468
- Ecology and Environmental Biology, particularly lake ecology.
- Physiological ecology of phytoplankton and benthic algae.
Professor Smith's interests are in the general area of freshwater ecology, with emphasis on primary producers, their interactions with natural and anthropogenic environmental factors, and their implications for ecosystem function. Key goals are to improve our understanding of aquatic ecosystem responses to invasive species, climate change (especially altered ultraviolet radiation exposure) and human alteration of nutrient and organic matter inputs. The Laurentian Great Lakes and other very large lakes are Professor Smith's main objects of study. Current projects include a major emphasis on new and emerging methods for the study and modeling of large lake ecosystems. These projects include studies of the anoxia problem in Lake Erie, the effects of ultraviolet radiation on production processes in lakes, the ecological basis for algal fouling problems in Lake Ontario, and the role of physical forces in fish population dynamics in large lakes. Three dimensional computer models for analysis of environmental problems in lakes have also been an area of interest.
Professor Smith teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses. Course offerings have included
- BIOL 351 Aquatic Ecology
- BIOL 470 Methods in Aquatic Ecology
- BIOL 490 Tropical Field Biology
- BIOL 499 Senior Honours Project
- BIOL 606 Advanced Aquatic Ecology
- BIOL 625 Applied Limnology
Recent publications include
- Bocaniov, S.A., Smith, R.E.H., Spillman, C.M., Hipsey, M.R. and Leon, L. 2014. The nearshore shunt and the decline of the phytoplankton spring bloom in the Laurentian Great Lakes: insights from a three dimensional lake model. Hydrobiol. 731: 151-172.
- Harrison, J.W. and Smith, R.E.H. 2013 Effects of nutrients and irradiance on PSII variable fluorescence of lake phytoplankton communities. Aquat. Sci. 75: 399-411.
- Leon, L.F., Smith, R.E.H., Hipsey, M.R., Bocaniov, S.A., Higgins, S.N., Hecky, R.E., Antenucci, J.P. and Guildford, S.J. 2011. Application of a 3D hydrodynamic-biological model for seasonal and spatial dynamics of water quality and phytoplankton in Lake Erie. J. Great Lakes Res. 37: 41-53.
- Malkin, S.Y., Bocaniov, S.A., Smith, R.E.H., Guildford, S.J. and Hecky, R.E. 2010. In situ measurements confirm the seasonal dominance of benthic algae over phytoplankton in nearshore primary production of large lakes. Freshwat. Biol. 55: 2468-2483.
- Harrison, J. and Smith, R.E.H. 2009. Effects of ultraviolet radiation on the productivity and composition of freshwater phytoplankton communities. Photochem. Photobiol. Sci. 8: 1218-1232.
- Hecky, R.E., Smith, R.E.H., Barton, D.R., Guildford, S.J. and Taylor, W.D. 2004. The nearshore phosphorus shunt: a consequence of ecosystem engineering by dreissenid mussels in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 61: 1285-1293.
Please see Professor Smith's Google Scholar profile for a current list of his peer-reviewed articles.
Awards and Distinctions
- Visiting Fellowship, NSERC (1981-1983)
- McConnell Scholarship (1976 and 1980)
- Postgraduate Scholarship, NSERC (1977-1979)
University of Waterloo Affiliations
- Water Institute
Professional Associations and Service
- Journal Editorship
- Associate Editor, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Professor Smith's research has been on featured on
The Weather Network
1981 PhD McGill University
1976 BSc University of Guelph