Dr Joshua Smith
BSc, PhD

Research Fellow

About me

I completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours degree at Townsville University before doing a PhD at the University of Queensland in Brisbane focussing on song function in humpback whales. My areas of research include conservation biology and behavioural ecology with interests in the social and acoustic behaviour as well as habitat use of marine mammals. My latest research has focussed more on spatial risk assessments of human threats to marine fauna. In addition to research I also teach an introductory science unit to first year students.

Teaching area

BSC100 Building Blocks for Science Students

Unit description

Now more than ever, we look to science to help overcome major challenges facing the world in which we live. Approaching science requires an understanding of the scientific method and skills.  This unit will facilitate your transition into university learning and give you the framework of skills you need for your studies in science and for lifelong learning. These include literacy; numeracy and information technology; the ability to collect, analyse and evaluate information; to think clearly, critically and creatively; and discipline-specific skills in scholarly research, communication and ethical practice.

Research areas

Main areas of research interest are in conservation biology, behavioural ecology and spatial risk assessments.

Current projects

Projects that I have worked on or currently work on include:

Ship strike risk assessment to whales in Australia:

- Project C5 (2016) Quantification of risk from shipping to large marine fauna across Australia and Project C5 (2015) Scoping of potential species for ship strike risk analysis, funded by the National Environmental Science Programme (NESP)

- Project 13/46 (2014) Quantitative assessment of the risk of shipping traffic to whales; a case study for humpback whales in the Great Barrier Reef, funded by the Australian Marine Mammal Centre (AMMC)

Passive acoustic monitoring of endemic Australian coastal dolphin species

Bill Dawbin Postdoctoral Fellowship (2012) Passive acoustics of coastal dolphins, funded by AMMC

Project 1.2.4 (2014) Relative abundance, population genetic structure and acoustic monitoring of Australian snubfin and humpback dolphins in regions within the Kimberley, funded by the Western Australian Marine Science Institute (WAMSI)

Spatial distribution of humpback whales in Australia

Project 11/15 (2011) Identification of humpback whale breeding grounds in the Great Barrier Reef Park, funded by the AMMC

Project 2014/004 (2014) Mitigation measures to reduce entanglements of migrating whales with commercial fishing gear, funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Centre (FRDC)

Project 12/26 (2012) Abundance estimation of breeding stock D humpback whales; a pilot study, funded by the AMMC

Awards and grants

Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Bill Dawbin Scholarship 2012



  • Allen, S., Pollock, K., Bouchet, P., Kobryn, H., McEligott, D., Nicholson, K., Smith, J., Loneragan, N., (2017), Preliminary estimates of the abundance and fidelity of dolphins associating with a demersal trawl fishery, Scientific Reports, 7, 1, pages 4995 - 4995.
  • Bejder, M., Johnston, D., Smith, J., Friedlaender, A., Bejder, L., (2016), Embracing conservation success of recovering humpback whale populations: Evaluating the case for downlisting their conservation status in Australia, Marine Policy, 66, , pages 137 - 141.
  • Berg Soto, A., Marsh, H., Everingham, Y., Smith, J., Parra, G., Noad, M., (2014), Discriminating between the vocalizations of Indo-Pacific humpback and Australian snubfin dolphins in Queensland, Australia, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 136, 2, pages 930 - 938.