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Danica Schaffer-Smith

Danica Schaffer-Smith

NatureNet Science Fellow, The Nature Conservancy-North Carolina

Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Arizona State University
PO Box 875402
Tempe, AZ 85287-5402


  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
  • NatureNet Science Fellow, The Nature Conservancy-North Carolina


Danica is a NatureNet Science Fellow with technical expertise in remote sensing and geospatial analysis. Her research has spanned a variety of topics, including modeling the spread of wind-driven fires, assessing habitat connectivity for endangered species, analyzing global tropical deforestation dynamics, and exploring methods to quantify linkages between coupled social-ecological systems. Her dissertation work, in collaboration with Point Blue Conservation Science and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, characterized the extent and variability of surface water at important migratory shorebird stopover sites in California, and assessed how shorebirds have responded to landscape habitat fluctuations.

Working with the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes and The Nature Conservancy North Carolina, Danica is investigating nutrient pollution risk associated with intensified agriculture, such as concentrated animal feeding operations, under increased flooding and hurricanes.


  • PhD, Environmental Science and Policy, Duke University, 2018
  • MESM, Environmental Science and Mnagement, Conservation Planning, University of California-Santa Barbara, 2010
  • BS, Environmental Science (minor Biology), The University of Redlands, 2006

External Links

Journal Articles


Barbaree, B., M. E. Reiter, C. M. Hickey, N. K. Elliott, D. Schaffer-Smith, M. D. Reynolds and G. W. Page. 2018. Dynamic surface water distributions influence wetland connectivity within a highly modified interior landscape. Landscape Ecology 33(5):829-844. DOI: 10.1007/s10980-018-0638-8. (link )

Schaffer-Smith, D., J. J. Swenson, M. E. Reiter and J. E. isola. 2018. Quantifying shorebird habitat in managed wetlands by modeling shallow water depth dynamics. Ecological Applications 28(6):1534–1545. DOI: 10.1002/eap.1732. (link )


Austin, K. G., M. Gonzalez-Roglich, D. Schaffer-Smith, A. M. Schwantes and J. J. Swenson. 2017. Trends in size of tropical deforestation events signal increasing dominance of industrial-scale drivers. Environmental Research Letters 12:054009. DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa6a88. (link )

Schaffer-Smith, D. and J. J. Swenson. 2017. Open source remote sensing and (some) GIS for ecologists: M. Wegmann, B. Leutner and S. Dech (eds.), Remote Sensing and GIS for Ecologists Using Open Source Software. Pelagic Publ., Exeter, UK. 2016, 333 pp. Cloth, ISBN 978-178427-022-3..... Landscape Ecology 32(2):461-463. DOI: 10.1007/s10980-016-0468-5. (link )

Schaffer-Smith, D., J. J. Swenson, B. Barbaree and M. E. Reiter. 2017. Three decades of Landsat-derived spring surface water dynamics in an agricultural wetland mosaic; Implications for migratory shorebirds. Remote Sensing of Environment 193(May):180-192. DOI: 10.1016/j.rse.2017.02.016. (link )


Schaffer-Smith, D., J. J. Swenson and A. J. Boveda-Penalba. 2016. Rapid conservation assessment for endangered species using habitat connectivity models. Environmental Conservation 43(2):221-230. DOI: 10.1017/S0376892915000405. (link )