Lee Smee, Ph.D.

Lee Smee, Ph.D.

Chair of University Programs, Senior Marine Scientist III

Professor of Marine and Environmental Sciences, University of South Alabama


Dr. Lee Smee is Chair of University Programs and Senior Marine Scientist III. He is a Professor of Marine and Environmental Sciences at the University of South Alabama. Smee received his Ph.D. from Georgia Tech where he investigated how small-scale turbulence affected chemical signaling between predators and prey and influenced top-down forcing in soft sediment communities. His lab has conducted studies in rocky intertidal communities in Maine as well as oyster, marsh, and seagrass communities in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Current research topics in his lab include oyster reef ecology, mangrove encroachment, pesticide effects on blue crabs, and biogeography of seagrass communities in the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. Smee is an Eagle Scout and Scoutmaster of Troop 292 in Mobile, Alabama. 


Ph.D., Georgia Institute of Technology, 2006 
MS, Georgia Southern University, 1998
BS, Piedmont College, 1996

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Research Interest



  • 2022

  • Hayes, T.H, S.B. Alford, B.A. Belgrad1, K.C. Correia, M.Z. Darnell, B.T. Furman, C.W. Martin, A.M. McDonald, D.L. Smee, and K.M. Darnell. Regional variation in seagrass complexity drives blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) mortality and growth across the northern Gulf of Mexico. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 693: 141-155.

  • Reustle, J.W., B.A. Belgrad, A. McKee, and D.L. Smee. Barnacles as biological flow indicators. The Biological Bulletin. (submitted)

  • Osland, M.J. et al. 21 authors including D.L. Smee. The impacts of mangrove range expansion on wetland ecosystem services in the southeastern United States: Current understanding, knowledge gaps, and emerging research needs. Global Change Biology.

  • Correia, K.M. and D.L. Smee. A Meta-analysis of Tropical Cyclone Effects on Seagrass Meadows. Wetlands.42:108. doi.org/10.1007/s13157-022-01611-0.

  • Belgrad, B.A., D.L. Smee, and M.J. Weissburg. Simultaneous predator signaling of prey on multiple trophic levels produces complex patterns of NCEs on basal prey. Ecology. (submitted)

  • Patrick, C.J. et al. 50 authors including D.L. Smee. A universal pattern of trade-offs between ecosystem resistance and resilience to tropical cyclones. Sciences Advances.

  • Belgrad, B.A., W. Knudson, S.H. Roney, W.C. Walton, J. Lunt, and D.L. Smee. Induced defenses as a management tool: Shaping individuals to their environment. Ecological Applications. (submitted)

  • Roney, S.H., M.R. Cepeda, B.A. Belgrad, S.G. Moore, D.L. Smee, J. Kubanek, and M.J. Weissburg. Common fear molecules induce defensive responses in marine prey across trophic levels. Journal of Animal Ecology. (submitted)

  • Correia, K.M. and D.L. Smee. A review of tropical cyclone effects on seagrass meadows. Wetlands. In Press.

  • Correia, K.M. and D.L. Smee. Drift macroalgae increases recruitment and alters abiotic conditions within seagrass meadows. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology.

  • Correia, K.M., S.B. Alford, B.A. Belgrad, K.M. Darnell, M.Z. Darnell, B.T. Furman, M.O. Hall, C.W. Martin, A. McDonald, and D.L. Smee. Drift macroalgae distribution in northern Gulf of Mexico seagrass meadows. PeerJ. 10.7717/peerj.13855.

  • 2021

    Eason, A., A.B. Powell, S.H. Roney, C. Lin, C. M. Russell, B.A. Belgrad, and D.L. Smee. Timing of predation risk during early development influences oyster shell morphology. Gulf and Caribbean Research. 31: SC1-SC5. DOI: 10.18785/gcr.3201.13.

  • Rue, C.R, J.D. Selwyn, P.M. Crockett, B. Gillis, L. Gurski, P. Jose, B.L. Kutil, S.F. Magnuson, L.A. Lopez de Mesa, R.D. Overath, D.L. Smee and C.E. Bird. Genetic diversity across the mitochondrial genome of eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Peer J: e12205 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.12205.

  • Belgrad, B.A., E.M. Combs, W.C. Walton and D.L. Smee. Use of predator cues to bolster oyster resilience for aquaculture and reef restoration. Aquaculture. 538: 736553.

  • Belgrad, B.A, D.L. Smee, K.M. Correia, K.M. Darnell, M.Z. Darnell, C.T. Hayes, M.O. Hall, B.T. Furman, and C.W. Martin. Environmental drivers of seagrass-associated nekton abundance and function groups across the northern Gulf of Mexico. Estuaries and Coasts.

  • 2020

    Whalen, M.A., et al. 67 authors including M.S. Diskin, D.L. Smee. Climate drives the geography of marine consumption by changing predator communities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. 117: 28160 – 28166.

  • Kimbro, D.L., A.E. Scherer, J.E. Byers, J.H. Grabowski, A.R. Hughes, M.F. Piehler, and D.L. Smee. Environmental gradients influence biogeographic patterns of nonconsumptive effects on oysters. Ecosphere. 11 (10): e03260.

  • Reustle, J. and D.L. Smee. Storms promote ecosystem resilience by alleviating fishing. Current Biology. 30: R869 – R870.

  • Reustle, J. and D.L. Smee. Salinity variation and turbidity influence trophic cascades through sensory-driven mesopredator release and facilitation of different predator types. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 639: 127-136.

  • Reustle, J. and D.L. Smee. Cloudy with a chance of mesopredator release: sensory disruption alleviates top-down control in estuaries Limnology and Oceanography 9999: 1-13.

  • Lunt, J. and D.L. Smee. Turbidity alters estuarine biodiversity and species composition. ICES Journal of Marine Science. 77: 379-387.

  • Ponce, M., B.A. Belgrad, W. Walton. and D.L. Smee. Hatchery exposure of oyster spat to different predators strengthens oyster shells. Gulf and Caribbean Research. 31: SC36 – SC40.

  • 2019

    Smee, D.L.. Coastal ecology: living shorelines reduce coastal erosion. Current Biology. 29: R411-412. Invited Dispatch.

  • Schroeder-Spain, K. and D.L. Smee. Dazed, confused, then hungry: pesticides alter predator-prey interactions of estuarine organisms. Oecologia. 189: 815-828.

  • Loveless, J.B. and D.L. Smee. Changes in arthropod communities as black mangroves Avicennia germinans expand into Gulf of Mexico salt marshes. Arthropod-Plant Interactions. 13: 465-475 https://doi.org/10.1007/s11829-018-9643-8.

  • Combs, E.M., B.A. Belgrad, and D.L. Smee. Comparison of hatchery methods to strengthen oysters for aquaculture. Gulf and Caribbean Research 30: SC17-SC21.

  • 2018

    Scherer, A.E., C.E. Bird, M. R. McCutcheon, X. Hu, D.L. Smee. Two-tiered defense strategy may compensate for predator avoidance costs of an ecosystem engineer. Marine Biology. 165.8; 131.

  • Correia, K.M. and D.L. Smee. Organophosphate Pesticides Alter Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus) Behavior in Single and Consecutive Exposures Archives of environmental contamination and toxicology. 75.1; 134-144.

  • Schroeder-Spain, K., L.L. Fisher, and D.L. Smee. Uncoordinated: Effects of sublethal malathion and carbaryl exposures on juvenile and adult blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 504; 1-9.

  • J.B. Loveless and D.L. Smee. Changes in arthropod communities as black mangroves Avicennia germinans expand into Gulf of Mexico salt marshes Arthropod-Plant Interactions. Pages 1-11.

  • J.B. Loveless and D.L. Smee. Assessing the Efficacy of Marsh Restoration via Terracing by Comparing Vegetation Density and Nekton Abundance Before and After Restoration Gulf of Mexico Science. Vol. 34 (1). doi.org/10.18785/goms.3401.05.

  • 2017

    Smee, D.L., J. A. Sanchez, M.Diskin, and C. Trettin. Mangrove expansion into salt marshes alters associated faunal communities Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 187:306-313.

  • Diskin, M.S. and D. L. Smee. Effects of black mangrove Avicennia germinans expansion on salt marsh nekton assemblages before and after a flood. Hydrobiologia. 803.1: 283.-294.

  • Scherer, A.E., M.M. Garcia, and D. L. Smee. Predatory blue crabs induce stronger nonconsumptive effects in eastern oysters Crassostrea virginica than scavenging blue crabs PeerJ Vol. 5:e3042.

  • Gain, I.E., R.A. Brewton, M.M.R. Robillard, K.D. Johnson, D.L. Smee, and G.W. Stunz. Macrofauna using intertidal oyster reef varies in relation to position within the estuarine habitat mosaic Marine Biology 164.1:8.

  • Smee, D.L. and A.E. Scherer. Phenotypic Plasticity in Oysters Mediated by Chemical Cues from Predators and Injured Prey Integrative and Comparative Biology 57:E409.

  • Scherer, A.E., C.E. Bird, X. Hu, M. Mccutcheon, and D.L. Smee. The cost and mechanism of an induced morphological defense in the eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica Integrative and Comparative Biology 57:E398.

  • Lunt, J., J. Reustle, and D.L. Smee. Wave energy and flow reduce the abundance and size of benthic species on oyster reefs Marine Ecology Progress Series 569:25-36.

  • 2016

    Smee, D.L.. Nueces Bay Marsh Restoration–Post Construction Assessment Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program.

  • Wolfe, K.D., M.L. Wainwright, D.L. Smee, and R. Mozzachiodi. Eat or be eaten? Modifications of Aplysia californica feeding behaviour in response to natural aversive stimuli Animal Behavior 12:123-133.

  • Scherer, A.E., J. Lunt, A.M. Draper, and D.L. Smee. Phenotypic plasticity in oysters (Crassostrea virginica) mediated by chemical signals from predators and injured prey Invertebrate Biology 135.2:97-107.

  • Scherer, A.E. and D.L. Smee. A review of predator diet effects on prey defensive responses Chemoecology 26.3:83-100.

  • 2015

    Lunt, J. and D.L. Smee. Turbidity interferes with foraging success of visual but not chemosensory predators PeerJ 3:e1212.

  • Smee, D.L., A. Scherer, J. Lunt, and A. Draper. Turbidity triggers mesopredator release by altering chemically mediated trophic interactions Integrative and Comparative Biology 55:E170.

  • 2014

    Robinson, E.M., J. Lunt, C.D. Marshall, and D.L. Smee. Eastern oysters Crassostrea virginica deter crab predators by altering their morphology in response to crab cues Aquatic Biology 20(2):111-118.

  • Ray, B.R., M.W. Johnson, K. Cammarata, and D.L. Smee. Changes in Seagrass Species Composition in Northwestern Gulf of Mexico Estuaries: Effects on

  • Lunt, J. and D.L. Smee. Turbidity influences trophic interactions in estuaries Limnology and Oceanography 59(6), 2002-2012.

  • Ray, B.R., M.W. Johnson, K. Cammarata, and D.L. Smee. Changes in seagrass species composition in northwestern Gulf of Mexico estuaries: effects on associated seagrass fauna PLoS One 9(9):e107751.

  • Johnson, K.D., J.H. Grabowski, and D.L. Smee. Omnivory dampens trophic cascades in estuarine communities Marine Ecology Progress Series 507:197-206.

  • Johnson, K.D. and D.L. Smee. Predators influence the tidal distribution of oysters (Crassostrea virginica) Marine Biology 161(7):1557-1564.

  • Weissburg, M., D.L. Smee, and M.C. Ferner. The sensory ecology of nonconsumptive predator effects The American Naturalist 184(2):141-157.

  • 2013

    Mehrubeoglu, M., D.K. Smith, S.W. Smith, D.L. Smee, and P.A. Simionescu. Investigating oyster shell thickness and strength using three imaging modalities: hyperspectral imaging, thermal imaging and digital photography Imaging Spectrometry XVII 8870:88700O.

  • 2009

    Miller, S.H., J. Reuther, R.D. Overath, and D.L. Smee. PS 93-178: Genetic variation in eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) in the western Gulf of Mexico The 94th ESA Annual Meeting.

  • Smee, D.L., M. Weissburg, and M.C. Ferner. Fluid dynamics affects the outcomes of blue crab-hard clam interactions Journal of Shellfish Research 28(3):729.

  • 2007

    Smee, D.L. and M.C. Ferner. COS 73-10: Alteration of sensory abilities regulates the spatial scale of non-lethal predator effects ESA/SER Joint Meeting.

  • 2006

    Smee, D.L.. The Ecology of Yikes! Environmental Forces Alter Prey Perception of Predators

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