Dr. Paul A. Smith

Image Paul Allen Smith
Senior Research Scientist

I'm a conservation biologist who specialises in the study of Arctic ecosystems,  and migratory birds in particular. My research explores the drivers of population declines in Arctic wildlife, from environmental change and other factors.  I also work at the national and international scale to develop new tools and approaches for conserving and monitoring wildlife.  

Research and/or project statements

  • applying a whole-ecosystem approach to understand how Arctic environments are changing and what these changes mean for wildlife
  • pursuing field- and analytic innovations to improve how we monitor Arctic biodiversity
  • exploring innovative ways to enhance the conservation of Canada’s biodiversity, both within and outside of the Arctic  
  • working closely with Inuit communities and organizations to build capacity for Inuit participation and leadership in environmental science, through training programs and employment opportunities

Education and awards

2009: PhD, Ecology, Carleton University

2004: MSc, Ecology, University of British Columbia

2001: BSc, Biology and Environmental Science, Trent University


2020: ECCC Citation of Excellence for Innovation and Guiding Change

2020: ECCC Citation of Excellence for Leadership in Sharing Bird Science

International experience and/or work

Arctic Council, Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna, Circumpolar Biodiversity Working Group

Arctic Council, Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna, State of the Arctic Terrestrial Report



Key publications

Selected recent publications (*denotes students):

  • *Anderson, C.M., Fahrig, L., Rausch, J., and P.A. Smith. (2023). Climate variables are not the dominant predictor of Arctic shorebird  distributions. PLoS ONE. 18(5): e0285115. 
  • Smith, P.A., A.C. Smith, B. Andres, C.M. Francis, B. Harrington, C. Friis, R.I.G. Morrison, J. Paquet, B. Winn, and S. Brown. (2023). Accelerating  declines of North America’s shorebirds signal the need for urgent conservation action. Ornithological Applications. 125(2): duad003.
  • *Anderson, C., L. Fahrig, J. Rausch, J.-L. Martin, T. Daufresne, and P.A. Smith. (2022). Climate-related range shifts in Arctic-breeding shorebirds. Ecology and Evolution. 13(2): e9797. 
  • Buxton, R.T., S. Hamit, J.J.W. Geauvreau, S. Davis, P.A. Smith, and J. Bennett. (2022). Balancing research, monitoring, and action to recover Canada’s Species at Risk. Environmental Science and Policy. 132: 198-205.
  • *Flemming, S.A., P.A. Smith, *L.V. Kennedy, *A.M. Anderson, and E. Nol. (2022). Habitat alteration and fecal deposition by geese alter tundra invertebrate communities: Implications for diets of sympatric birds. PLoS ONE. 17(7): e0269938. 
  • *MacDonald, A.J., Smith, P.A., Friis, C.A., Lyons, J.E., Aubry, Y., Nol, E. (2021). Stopover Ecology of Red Knots in Southwestern James Bay During Southbound Migration. Journal of Wildlife Management. 85: 932-944.
  • *Buxton, R.T., J.R. Bennett, A.J. Reid, C. Shulman, S.J. Cooke, C.M. Francis, ...P.A. Smith. (2021). Key information needs to move from knowledge to action for biodiversity conservation in Canada. Biological Conservation. 256: 108983.
  • *Anderson, A., C. Friis, C.L. Gratto-Trevor, C.M. Harris, O.P. Love, R.I.G. Morrison, S. Prosser, E. Nol, and P.A. Smith (2021). Drought at a coastal wetland affects refuelling and migration strategies of shorebirds. Oecologia. 197(3): 661-674.
  • Smith, P.A., L. McKinnon, H. Meltofte, R.B. Lanctot, T. Fox, J. Leafloor, M. Solviev, A. Franke, & A. Smith. (2020). Status and trends of tundra birds across the circumpolar Arctic. Ambio. 49: 732–748. 
  • *Duijns, S., *A.M. Anderson, Y. Aubry, A. Dey, *S.A. Flemming, C.M. Francis, ... P.A. Smith. (2019). Long-distance migratory shorebirds travel faster towards their breeding grounds, but fly faster post-breeding. Scientific Reports. 9(1): 9420.
  • *Flemming, S.A., P.A. Smith, J. Rausch, and E. Nol. (2019). Broad-scale changes in tundra-nesting bird abundance in response to  hyperabundant geese. Ecosphere. 10: e02785.
  • *Flemming, S.A., E. Nol, *L.V. Kennedy, & P.A. Smith. (2019). Hyperabundant herbivores limit habitat availability and influence nest-site selection of Arctic-breeding birds. Journal of Applied Ecology. 56(4) 
  • Rosenberg,K.V., A.M. Dokter, P.J. Blancher, J.R. Sauer, A.C. Smith, P.A. Smith, J.C. Stanton, A. Panjabi, L. Helft, M. Parr, and P.P. Marra. (2019). Decline of the North American avifauna. Science. 366(6461): 120-124.