Szymon Surma

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Marine Zooplankton and Micronekton Laboratory
International Year of the Salmon Project


Ph.D., University of British Columbia, 2019 (RMES)
B.Sc., University of British Columbia, 2012 (Marine Biology)
B.A., University of British Columbia, 2012 (Anthropology)

Contact Information


Social Media
UBC Academia

Research Interests

  • Marine ecology (species interactions, food web structure and dynamics, top-down versus bottom-up control, role of prey energy content in predator population health, relationship between biodiversity and food web stability, historical ecology and shifting baselines)
  • Fisheries ecology (forage fish and salmon, fisheries interactions with top predators)
  • Biological oceanography (biological cycling of carbon and nutrients (especially metals) in marine ecosystems, influence of physical factors (including climate change) on neritic and pelagic biomass, productivity, biodiversity, and trophic control)
  • Fisheries oceanography (physical, biological, and ecological mechanisms driving trends in fish stock biomass and recruitment)
  • Ecosystem and food web modeling (biomass, energy, and nutrients; static and dynamic, spatial and temporal, hindcasting and forecasting)
  • Ecosystem-based fisheries management and integrated ecosystem assessment
  • Management strategy evaluation and closed loop simulations
  • Marine spatial planning and marine protected area network design
  • Marine historical ecology, shifting baselines, and ecosystem restoration
  • Marine mammals (ecology, conservation, behavior, interactions with fisheries)
  • Elasmobranchs (ecology, conservation, behavior, interactions with fisheries)


I completed my PhD at the Institute for Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia, in 2019. From 2020 to 2022, I was Centennial Postdoctoral Fellow at the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks. I am now a Postdoctoral Fellow with the International Year of the Salmon Project at the Institute for Oceans and Fisheries and the Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, University of British Columbia.

Selected Publications

Surma, S., Pakhomov, E.A. and Pitcher, T.J. (2022) Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) as a key forage fish in the southeastern Gulf of Alaska. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography 196: 105001.

Surma, S., Pitcher, T.J., and Pakhomov, E.A. (2021) Tradeoffs and uncertainties in Northeast Pacific herring fisheries: ecosystem modelling and management strategy evaluation. ICES Journal of Marine Science 78(6): 2280–2297.

Siple, M., Koehn, L., Johnson, K., Punt, A., … Surma, S., et al. (2021) Considerations for management strategy evaluation for small pelagic fishes. Fish and Fisheries 22(6): 1167-1186.

Surma, S., Christensen, V., Kumar, R., Ainsworth, C.H. and Pitcher, T.J. (2019) High-Resolution Trophic Models Reveal Structure and Function of a Northeast Pacific Ecosystem. Frontiers in Marine Science (Marine Ecosystem Ecology) 6: 625.

Surma, S., Pitcher, T.J., Kumar, R., Varkey, D., Pakhomov, E.A. and Lam, M.E. (2018) Herring supports Northeast Pacific predators and fisheries: insights from ecosystem modelling and management strategy evaluation. PLoS ONE 13(7): e0196307.

Surma, S., Pakhomov, E.A. and Pitcher, T.J. (2018) Energy-based ecosystem modelling illuminates the ecosystem role of Northeast Pacific herring. Marine Ecology Progress Series 588: 147–161.

Maldonado, M.T., Surma, S. and Pakhomov, E.A. (2016) Southern Ocean biological iron cycling in the pre-whaling and present ecosystems. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A 374: 20150292.

Surma, S. and Pitcher, T.J. (2015) Predicting the effects of whale population recovery on Northeast Pacific food webs and fisheries: an ecosystem modelling approach. Fisheries Oceanography 24(3): 291-305.

Surma, S., Pakhomov, E.A. and Pitcher, T.J. (2014) Effects of whaling on the structure of the Southern Ocean food web: insights on the “krill surplus” from ecosystem modelling. PLoS One 9(12): e114978.