Skip Navigation

Faculty Profiles

Smith, Kathryn

Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences

Educational Background

B.Sc. University of Plymouth, UK, 2003. Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology.

M.Sc. University of Southampton, UK, 2008. Oceanography.

Ph.D. University of Southampton, UK. 2013. Marine Biology

Current Research

My research focuses on the eco-physiological thresholds controlling the distribution of marine benthic invertebrates. Understanding patterns of species range shifts is of particular importance due to current changes in climate envelopes. Both local and global shifts in habitat assemblages are currently occurring, which have the potential to be of significant ecological consequence.


I am currently leading a project examining the effects of climate change on the invasion of predators on Antarctic marine benthos. Benthic communities on the Antarctic shelf have been essentially devoid of durophagous (skeleton-breaking) predators, including king crabs, for millions of years. However, rapidly rising sea temperatures appear to be facilitating the bathymetric expansion of king crabs off the western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP). This could have a devastating effect on the vulnerable, endemic shelf fauna, which have evolved in isolation with limited defenses against durophagy. Using high-resolution imagery of the slope and shelf environments off the WAP, our team is investigating the current population status of king crabs and other megafauna. These  data will provide a baseline for benthic assemblages around the WAP and will be used to facilitate understanding of the ecological mechanisms controlling the king crab distribution and the impact a population expansion may have.


In addition to my Antarctic research, I have ongoing collaborations with the University of Southampton, UK, focusing on:
- Physiological thresholds affecting the bathymetric distribution of shallow-water marine invertebrates.
- Understanding the effects of ocean acidification on marine invertebrate development.

Selected Publications

Brown, A., K.E. Smith, A. Oliphant, C. Munro and S. Thatje. (Under review) Temperature effects on larval development in the northern stone crab Lithodes maja: evidence for differential cold adaptation in deep-water lineage Lithodinae. Marine Ecology Progress Series.

Amsler, M.O., J.T. Eastman, K.E. Smith, J.B. McClintock, H. Singh, S. Thatje, R.B. Aronson (2015). Zonation of demersal fishes off Anvers Island, western Antarctic Peninsula. Antarctic Science. doi: 10.1017/S0954102015000462.

Aronson, R.B., K.E. Smith, S.C. Vos, S. Thatje, M.O. Amsler, D. Ellis, P.O. Moksnes, J.W. Kaeli, H.Singh, J.W. Bailey, J.C. Schiferl, M.A. Martin, S.M. Lazarus and J.B. McClintock (2015). No barrier to shoreward expansion of bathyal king crabs in Antarctica. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112:12997–13002.

Smith, K.E. (2015). Conservation issues: Polar Seas. Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences.

Smith, K.E., A.J. Reed and S. Thatje (2015). Dispersal polymorphism during intracapsular development in the predatory gastropod Ocenebra erinacea (Linnaeus 1758). Helgoland Marine Research.

Smith, K.E., A. Brown, S. Thatje (2015). The metabolic cost of developing under pressure. Marine Ecology Progress Series.

Thatje,S., K.E. Smith, L. Marsh, P.A. Tyler (2015). Evidence for abbreviated and lecithotrophic larval development in the yeti crab Kiwa tyleri from hydrothermal vents in the Scotia Sea, Southern Ocean. Sexuality and Early Development in Aquatic Organisms.

Amsler, M.O., J.T. Eastman, K.E. Smith, R.B. Aronson, J.B. McClintock (2015). In situ observations of a skate nursery off the western Antarctic Peninsula. Journal of Fish Biology.

Smith, K.E., S. Thatje, H, Singh, M.O. Amsler, S.C. Vos, J.B. McClintock, C.J. Brothers, A. Brown, D. Ellis, J. Anderson, R.B. Aronson (2014). Discovery of a recent natural whale fall on the continental slope off Anvers Island, western Antarctic Peninsula. Deep Sea Research I. 90:76–80.

Smith, K.E., S. Thatje (2013). The subtle intracapsular survival of the fittest: maternal investment, sibling conflict or environmental effects? Ecology. 94: 2263-2274.

Smith, K.E., S. Thatje (2013). Nurse egg consumption and intracapsular development in the common whelk Buccinum undatum (Linnaeus 1758). Helgoland Marine Research. 67: 109-120.

Smith, K.E., S. Thatje, C. Hauton (2013) Effects of temperature on early ontogeny in the common whelk Buccinum undatum (Linnaeus 1758): bioenergetics, nurse egg partitioning and developmental success. Journal of Sea Research. 79: 32-39.

Smith, K.E., S. Thatje (2012). The secret to successful deep-sea invasion: does low temperature hold the key? PLoS ONE. 7(12): e51219. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051219

Cotton, P.A., S.D. Rundle, K.E. Smith (2004). Trait compensation in marine gastropods: shell shape, avoidance behavior and susceptibility to predation. Ecology. 85, 1581-1584