April 22: The Importance & Future of Caribbean Reef Ecosystems

2009 Rosenstiel Alumni Lecture to Feature Dr. Tyler Smith

Tyler Smith

VIRGINIA KEY, Fla. — The University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science announced that Tyler Smith, Ph.D., a coral reef ecologist who received his doctoral degree from the School, will present its 2009 Alumni Lecture. His lecture, “Ark or Alamo? The Importance and Future of Caribbean Mesophotic Ecosystems in a World of Shallow Water Coral Decline,” will take place on Wednesday, April 22 at 5:30 p.m. in the Rosenstiel Auditorium (4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Virginia Key, Fla.) Hors d’oeuvres and cash bar reception will take place in The F.G. Walton Smith Commons following the lecture.

As coordinator of research for the U.S. Virgin Islands Territorial Coral Reef Monitoring Program, and a research assistant professor in the Center for Marine and Environmental Studies (CMES) at the University of the Virgin Islands, Smith conducts investigations and collaborations that are strengthening our understanding of the dynamics and fates of coral reefs both nationally and abroad. Smith is interested in the dynamics of reef populations, interactions between reef organisms and how physical forcing and man-made influences affect these interactions. His presentation will explore enigmatic Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems (MCE) that form on deep (30-100 m) walls, shelves and banks, and remain as some of the least-studied and most poorly understood reef systems in the world. Despite their historical anonymity, a new wave of study has been propelled by the recent degradation of many shallow water coral reefs, and new technologies that extend the time and safety of in situ observations.

Using innovative collaborations and cutting-edge technologies, Smith’s research focuses on the ecological effects of bleaching, terrestrial input and upwelling. By conducting research using a multidisciplinary approach which combines reef monitoring, physical oceanography, watershed studies and statistically based experiments, Smith is progressing toward identifying some of the most critical factors increasing and allaying reef stress. This not only involves more accurate monitoring of factors potentially impacting reefs, but a better understanding of the detectible responses of reef organisms, such as bioindicators, and the meaning of these to the trajectory and composition of reef communities over time. Smith hopes that by continuing his investigations, he will provide other scientists with both basic and applied ecological research that adds to the existing knowledge of reef ecosystems, and provides strategies for reef protection.

Smith earned his B.S. from Western Washington University, and his Ph.D. from the Rosenstiel School under the direction of internationally renowned coral reef expert, Dr. Peter W. Glynn.

About the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School
Founded in the 1940’s, the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life.  For more information, please visit

Media Contacts:

Barbra Gonzalez
UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
Marie Guma-Diaz
UM Media Relations Office

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