Dr. Liz Smith - Annual Whooping Crane Festival in Port Aransas, Texas

Dr. Liz Smith, Sr. Whooping Crane Scientist and North America Program Director, International Crane Foundation

Presentation: Aransas-Wood Buffalo Population of Whooping Cranes: Ten-Year Review of Progress

Bio: Dr. Liz Smith is a native Texan growing up along the central coast. She earned her Bachelor and Master of Biology degrees at Corpus Christi State University and Ph.D. in Wildlife & Fisheries Science at Texas A&M University.

Her dissertation research involved evaluating coastal marsh vegetation dynamics in relation to water depth and salinity gradients at San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge supported by a fellowship from Welder Wildlife Foundation. As a Research Scientist, Dr. Smith led coastal habitat assessment, restoration, and conservation planning projects that funded graduate student research at the Center for Coastal Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi for 17 years. Her research expanded into evaluating coastal habitat change with sea-level rise, which gained the attention of the International Crane Foundation in 2011.

Dr. Smith established the Texas Program at ICF and continued her research with her academic and nongovernmental partners to identify current and future Whooping Crane habitat. These results have supported several successful partner proposals to conserve habitat within and surrounding the crane’s only wintering habitat in Texas. Recently, Dr. Smith increased her geographic scope to direct the North America Program, working with other ICF staff who conduct research, monitoring, and outreach on introduced Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory population as well Sandhill Cranes in Wisconsin and Michigan and Pacific coast. She continues to lead all these initiatives at the Texas Program office located in Fulton in heart of the wintering Whooping Crane range. The collaborative conservation and restoration efforts not only benefit the recovery of endangered Whooping Cranes, but also support a healthy ecosystem for native species and coastal economies.

LOCATION: Port Aransas Community Center