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Alex Smith

Alex Smith grew up near the small town of Douglas in the Ottawa Valley in eastern Ontario, Canada. It was here in the numerous rivers, streams and marshes of Renfrew County that he first thought he wanted to be a biologist - it was while volunteering in Costa Rica in 1991 that he knew. Today, most of his research program at the University of Guelph (where he is an Associate Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology) is based around questions of the ecology and evolution of biodiversity along elevational and disturbance gradients within Área de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG). Smith and his students study multiple arthropod taxa, but always amongst the first to be considered are the ants. Smith and his students work collaboratively to rapidly document the species that live in ACG (often using DNA barcodes), and then to consider the phylogenetic diversity and calculate functional diversity by including data on ecology, life history traits and morphology complement of morphological variables linked to species survival in particular abiotic conditions. In the big picture, this work allows the investigation of how these special neotropical communities respond to a changing climate.  You can visit his academic website here: www.malexsmith.com, explore his high-resolution GigaPan panorams of the ACG here and see numerous videos of the very small life that makes its home in the forest floor here.