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Danica Schaffer-Smith

Danica Schaffer-Smith

Assistant Research Professor, The Nature Conservancy, North Carolina

The Nature Conservancy


  • Assistant Research Professor, The Nature Conservancy, North Carolina


Danica uses remote sensing and geospatial analysis tools to address questions related to global change and natural resource management. She was raised in California and earned a BS degree in Environmental Science at the University of Redlands and an MS at University of California-Santa Barbara. With professional experience as a field biologist and environmental planner, she gained a keen awareness of the need to link science to policy and practice to promote biodiversity, ecosystem services and a high quality of life for communities. Danica completed a PhD in Environmental Science and Policy at Duke University, focusing on characterizing surface water extent and variability at important migratory shorebird stopover sites and assessing bird response to spatiotemporal habitat changes, in collaboration with Point Blue Conservation Science and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. As a NatureNet Science Fellow with The Center for Biodiversity Outcomes and The Nature Conservancy, her postdoctoral work examined the implications of more frequent and intense hurricanes for water quality and social-ecological resilience in North Carolina. Her current work investigates solutions for water quality and flooding issues under extreme events via the management of both human and natural infrastructure.


  • 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


Schaffer-Smith, D., S. W. Myint, R. L. Muenich, D. Tong and J. E. DeMeester. 2020. Repeated hurricanes reveal risks and opportunties for social-ecological resilience in flooding and water quality problems. Environmental Science & Technology 54(12):7194-7204. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b07815. (link )


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 )