Emma Elliott Smith
I am interested in animal ecology, with an emphasis on how retrospective studies can aid conservation efforts. My current research focus is historical sea otter ecology. I use stable isotope analysis to characterize ancient and modern sea otter dietary ecology throughout the North Pacific and California, and quantify how humans have influenced this species over the Holocene. Sea otters are keystone members of nearshore communities, maintaining healthy kelp forests through predation on invertebrate grazers. Thus, understanding the dynamics of this species may inform conservation of an entire ecosystem. My study sites include the Aleutian Islands, southeastern Alaska, and California.