Bob Smith

  • Bob Smith
  • Degree Earned: M.S. 2006, Thesis title: Effect of urbanization on stream insect communities in adjacent headwater and downstream reaches
  • Degree Earned: Ph.D. 2012, Dissertation title: Local versus regional processes impacting insect diversity loss from urban headwater streams
  • Current Email: rfsmith@eco.umass.edu
  • Current Position: Postdoctoral Research Associate, UMASS-Amherst / Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
  • Website: MASS Coop F & W Research Unit Profile
  • Publications
    1. See Lamp Lab Publications for publications co-authored with William Lamp
    2. See my website listed above

Research Summary

Masters Work

My masters work showed that decreased diversity in headwater streams following watershed urbanization results largely from the loss of headwater specialists that are absent from larger, downstream reaches. Spatial patterns of diversity and community composition also suggested that diversity loss may have resulted from the isolation of urban headwaters from other headwaters, and the main-stem may be the primary source of immigrants to urban headwaters. This led to my dissertation research. This work is summarized in Smith and Lamp (2008) found on the publications page.


Dissertation Work

For my dissertation research, I examined spatial patterns of stream insect community composition through field studies and GIS analysis to determine if impacts to the adult stage in urban terrestrial habitats contributed to low diversity of larval communities in urban headwaters. The first chapter of my dissertation was a synthesis of the literature examining the effects of urban land-use on adult stream insect disprsal and fitness. This synthesis was done as a collaboration with William Lamp and Laurie Alexander. We found that the characteristics of urban terrestrial landscapes likely limited dispersal and lowered fitness of adult stream insects, but we found little direct empirical evidence showing the impacts of land-use urbanization on adult stream insects. We published this synthesis in a special issue of the Journal of the North American Benthological Society (now, the Society for Freshwater Science). This paper (Smith et al. 2009) can be found on the publications page. The second and third chapters of my dissertation summarized the results of a field survey of the adult and larval caddisfly assemblages between urban and rural headwater streams. In addition to examining general differences of adult caddisfly assemablages between streams, I compared the adult and larval assemablages at each stream to determine if a lack of dispersal contributed to low larval diversity in urban streams. The results of this study indicated that dispersal was constrained for some species of caddisflies, and dispersal constraints contributed to low larval diversity in urban headwaters. Poor in-stream habitat quality, however was still most likely the main factor contributing to species loss. The fourth chapter of my dissertation was a comparison of the morphological traits associated with flight ability between six species of caddisflies that differed in their levels of immigration to urban headwaters. The morphological characteristics I measured did not explain patterns of migration, but the results showed how trade-offs between body size and wing aspect ratio may lead to differing dispersal strategies through urban landscapes. For the final chapter of my dissertation, I compared community dissimilarity of the entire stream insect community between 4,157 sample site pairs from 189 sampling sites in Maryland's Piedmont to 1) environmental similarity between sites, 2) geographic distance between sites, and/or 3) land-use characteristics occurring along insect dispersal pathways between sites. I used data from the Maryland DNR's Maryland Biological Stream Survey dataset and performed the landscape scale analysis using GIS. The results indicated that both local and regional factors influenced the composition of insect communities across streams in a partially urbanized landscape. The overall finding from my dissertation research was that urban landscapes likely impede dispersal and/or decrease fitness of the adult stage. Impacts to adults from terrestrial urban environments and poor in-stream habitat and water quality both contribute to the loss of diversity from larval assemablages in urbanized headwater streams, and both processes should be considered when developing conservation and restoration strategies for stream insect communities.


Lepidostoma Neophylax mitchelli Chimarra aterrima

Research Grants and Awards Received While a Graduate Student in the Lamp Lab

  • National Science Foundation, Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES) Fellowship, 2012 to 2015 ($476,162) - Currently funding my post-doctoral research at UMASS
  • International Conference Student Support Award, University of Maryland, 2011
  • Gahan Fellowship, Department of Entomology, University of Maryland, 2010-2011
  • Graduate Student Summer Research Fellowship, College of Chemical and Life Sciences, University of Maryland, 2010
  • North American Benthological Society Endowment, General Research Endowment Award, North American Benthological Society, 2010
  • Gahan Fellowship, Department of Entomology, University of Maryland, 2009-2010
  • Teaching Achievement Award, Department of Entomology, University of Maryland, 2009
  • College of Life Sciences Travel Grant, University of Maryland, 2009
  • Entomology Student Organization Travel Grant, Department of Entomology, University of Maryland, 2009
  • Entomological Society of America Student and Young Professional Participation Award, 2009
  • Entomological Society of America President's Prize Runner-Up (Oral Presentations), Entomological Society of America, Annual Meeting: Section Cd5 (Behavior and Ecology), 2006
  • Cosmos Club Foundation, Grants-In-Aid to Young Scholars Program, 2006 ($1,500)
  • Allen L. Steinhauer Award for Excellence in Teaching, Department of Entomology, University of Maryland, 2006
  • North American Benthological Society Endowment, President's Award, North American Benthological Society, 2006
  • Jacob K. Goldhaber Travel Grant Award, College of Life Sciences, University of Maryland, 2006
  • University of Maryland Biology Department Graduate Student Summer Research Support: Chesapeake Bay Fund, 2005 ($2,000)
  • Maryland/DC Chapter of the Nature Conservancy: Biodiversity Conservation Research Fund, 2005 ($2,500)
  • Washington Biologists' Field Club Research Award, 2005 ($2,485.00)
  • Teaching Achievement Award, Department of Entomology, University of Maryland, 2005
  • Special Distinction in Teaching, Department of Entomology, University of Maryland, 2004