Samuel Smith

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research Focus

My research interests concern ecological interactions between predators and prey in the marine environment. In particular, my focus is on the role of non-consumptive effects; ways in which predators cause changes in prey populations that may be developmental, morphological, or behavioural. While direct consumption is an important aspect of top-down control across ecosystems, the role of non-consumptive effects may be equally as significant, and these effects may likewise cascade to lower trophic levels.

To explore this aspect of predator-prey interactions, I am investigating the foraging behaviours of sea stars and the anti-predator behaviour of a basal prey species, the blue mussel. Sea stars are important predators in benthic communities, and many are considered as keystone species responsible for the regulation of ecosystem stability. Additionally, the commercial and ecological importance of mussel beds means that they are an important provider of ecosystem services. My project therefore aims to quantify non-consumptive effects cascading from predators to prey - an interaction which may be consequential for ecosystem service provision.

In addition to my research on the ecology of sea stars and their prey, I also investigate the phenomenon known as sea star wasting disease (SSWD). This is a poorly understood suite of signs ranging from abnormal posture and epidermal lesions, and progressing to complete body disintegration and death. The presence of SSWD in the Northeast Atlantic has now been documented, which may have further downstream consequences for benthic communities.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water


  • QH301 Biology


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