Ralph Smith

Ralph Smith
Professor Emeritus
Status: Emeritus


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.

Research Interests

  • Ecology and Environmental Biology, particularly lake ecology.
  • Physiological ecology of phytoplankton and benthic algae.


  • 1981 Ph.D. McGill University
  • 1976 B.Sc. University of Guelph


  • 1981-1983 Visiting Fellowship, NSERC
  • 1976 and 1980 McConnell Scholarship
  • 1977-1979 Postgraduate Scholarship, NSERC


  • Associate Editor, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences

Affiliations and Volunteer Work

  • Water Institute

Selected/Recent Publications

  • 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: https://scholar.google.ca/citations?hl=en&user=RHfmKhYAAAAJ&view_op=list_works&sortby=pubdate