David Smith

David Smith

Senior Lecturer in Biology

Thompson Biology Lab Rm 205
At Williams since 1979


B.S. Yale University (1968)
Ph.D. University of Michigan, Zoology (1977)

Areas of Expertise



Note: courses in gray are not offered this academic year.

BIOL 102(S)

The Organism

Scholarship/Creative Work

  • Smith, David C. (1981) Competitive interactions of the striped plateau lizard (Sceloporus virgatus) and the tree lizard (Urosaurus ornatus). Ecology, 62:679-687.
  • *Meigs, James, David C. Smith and *Josh VanBuskirk. (1983) Age determination of the black-capped chickadee. Journal for Field Ornithology, 54: 283-286.
  • Smith, David C. (1985) Home range, territory, and aggressive behavior in the striped plateau lizard. Animal Behaviour, 33: 417-427.
  • Smith, David C. (1987) Adult recruitment in chorus frogs: effects of size and date at metamorphosis. Ecology, 68: 344-350.
  • Smith, David C. and *VanBuskirk, Josh. (1988) Winter territoriality and flock cohesion in the black-capped chickadee (Parus atricapillus). Animal Behaviour 36: 466-476.
  • Smith, D.C. (1990) Population structure and competition among kin in the chorus frog (Pseudacris triseriata). Evolution, 44: 1529-1541.
  • Smith, David C. and *VanBuskirk, Josh. (1995) Phenotypic design, plasticity and ecological performance in two tadpole species. The American Naturalist, 145(2): 211-233.

*Williams College student or alumnus

Research Interests

Evolutionary Ecology of Vertebrates

My research focuses on the factors determining the distribution and abundance of vertebrates with a current emphasis on how phenotypic traits interact with ecological factors to shape natural amphibian communities. I use an experimental approach with field populations, working with chorus frogs (Pseudacris triseriata) and spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) in a wilderness park on Isle Royale, Michigan. Two current projects are described below:

  • Tadpole interactions with their environment. This study focuses on the importance of predators, food (algae and other microorganisms), and physical factors (nutrients, temperature, etc.) in in determining tadpole survivorship, growth and ultimately their distribution and abundance.
  • Population structure and habitat heterogeneity. This study concentrates on the effects of population structure and habitat heterogeneity on quantitative selection with special emphasis on how phenotypes relate to ecological function, especially behavior, morphology and plasticity.

Tropical Biology and Conservation

I have a general interest in the preservation of natural habitats and have field experience in boreal, temperate and tropical habitats with special emphasis on birds. Much of my work on the population dynamics of frogs relates directly to understanding the maintenance of amphibian populations (which are currently in a worldwide decline).