Szymon Surma

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Policy and Ecosystem Restoration in Fisheries

Degrees

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

Research Interests

  • Ecosystem and food web modeling (mass, energy, and nutrient balance)
  • Marine ecology (food web structure and function, species interactions, top-down vs. bottom-up control, role of prey quality in predator-prey interactions, nutrient recycling, forage fish, historical ecology and shifting baselines)
  • Fisheries science (forage fish fisheries, interactions between fisheries and marine mammals)
  • Ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM), integrated ecosystem assessment (IEA), management strategy evaluation (MSE)
  • Marine spatial planning and protected areas (siting and ecosystem effects)
  • Biological and fisheries oceanography (relationships between biomass, productivity, and diversity in pelagic ecosystems and fisheries)
  • Marine mammalogy (ecology, conservation, behavior)

Biography

My current research focuses on the structure and dynamics of the Norwegian and Barents Sea (NorBar) ecosystem, with particular emphasis on the ecological roles of forage fish and whales and management scenarios for pelagic fisheries. My collaborators include Dr. Tony Pitcher (UBC), Dr. Mimi E. Lam (UBC, University of Bergen), and Georg Skaret (Institute for Marine Research, Bergen, Norway).

I have recently defended my PhD at the UBC IOF under the supervision of Dr. Tony Pitcher. My committee members were Dr. Evgeny Pakhomov and Dr. Villy Christensen. My research focused on the role of Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) in Northeast Pacific food webs and fisheries. I have also published work on current and historical food web dynamics in the Southern Ocean, with particular emphasis on the long-term ecosystem impacts of whaling. I have presented my work at a number of conferences in Canada, the United States and Europe.

My interest in marine life began during my childhood in coastal California. In my late undergraduate years, my research interests gradually shifted from intertidal to pelagic ecology and fisheries science. This shift was facilitated by the B.A. in anthropology which I completed simultaneously with my B.Sc. in marine biology.

Contact Information

2202 Main Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada
Email: s.surma@oceans.ubc.ca
 

Website:
ResearchGate

Selected Publications

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. Energy-based ecosystem modelling enhances understanding of the ecosystem role of Northeast Pacific herring. Marine Ecology Progress Series 588: 147–161.

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.

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.

Ph.D. dissertation
Surma, S. (2019) Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) trophodynamics and fisheries in the Northeast Pacific Ocean.

Other Publications
Kumar, R., Surma, S., Pitcher, T.J., Varkey, D., Lam, M., Ainsworth, C. and Pakhomov, E. (2016) An Ecosystem Model of the Ocean Around Haida Gwaii, Northern British Columbia: Ecopath, Ecosim and Ecospace. UBC Fisheries Centre Research Reports 24(2): 76pp.

Pitcher, T.J., Kumar, R., Lam, M.E., Surma, S., and Varkey, D. (2016) Spatial Modelling of the Haida Gwaii Ecosystem: A Pilot Project Contributing to Haida Gwaii Marine Spatial Planning. UBC Fisheries Centre Research Reports 24(1): 83 pp.

Surma, S., Pakhomov, E.A. and Pitcher, T.J. (2014) Whaling, primary productivity and the changing structure of the Southern Ocean food web. In Steenbeek, J., Piroddi, C., Coll, M., Heymans, J., Villasante, S. and Christensen, V. (eds.). Ecopath 30 years Conference Proceedings. UBC Fisheries Centre Research Reports 22(3): 87-88.

Pitcher, T., Kumar, R., Varkey, D.A., Surma. S. and Lam, M.E. (2014) Marine Protected Areas in the Haida Gwaii Ecosystem: Modelling and Policy Issues. In Steenbeek, J., Piroddi, C., Coll, M., Heymans, J., Villasante, S. and Christensen, V. (eds.). Ecopath 30 years Conference Proceedings. UBC Fisheries Centre Research Reports 22(3): 50.

Conference Presentations
Surma, S. Reconstructing and projecting trends in a Northeast Pacific ecosystem. PICES Annual Meeting, Victoria, BC. October 23, 2019.

Surma, S. Towards ecosystem-based management of Northeast Pacific herring fisheries. PICES Annual Meeting, Victoria, BC. October 23, 2019.

Surma, S. Modeling the importance of prey quality to endothermic predators in the Northeast Pacific. PICES Annual Meeting, Victoria, BC. October 23, 2019.

Surma, S. Marine mammal prey consumption and competition with fisheries in the Northeast Pacific. PICES Annual Meeting, Victoria, BC. October 23, 2019.

Surma, S. Tradeoffs and uncertainty in herring fisheries management: insights from management strategy evaluation and ecosystem modelling. ICES Annual Science Conference, Theme Session F, Göteborg, Sweden. September 10, 2019.

Surma, S., Pakhomov, E.A. and Pitcher, T.J. Energy-based ecosystem modelling illuminates the ecological role of northeast Pacific herring. ICES Annual Science Conference, Theme Session K, Göteborg, Sweden. September 11, 2019.

Surma, S. and Pitcher, T.J. Pacific herring trophodynamics and fisheries in the southeastern Gulf of Alaska. Alaska Marine Science Symposium. Anchorage, AK. January 29, 2019.

Surma, S. Prey consumption by marine mammals off northern BC: estimates from ecosystem models. 26th Annual BC Marine Mammal Symposium. Vancouver, BC. November 24, 2017.

Surma, S. Energy-based ecosystem modelling highlights importance of herring to Northeast Pacific marine mammals. 25th Annual BC Marine Mammal Symposium. Vancouver, BC. November 25, 2017.

Surma, S. Energy-based ecosystem modelling highlights importance of herring to Northeast Pacific marine mammals. 21st Annual Meeting of the Northwest Student Chapter of the Society for Marine Mammalogy. Vancouver, BC. May 6, 2017.

Surma, S., and Pitcher, T.J. Reconstructing the historical abundance and importance of large whales in northern British Columbia. Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting. Symposium: Whales and Whaling: new perspectives and approaches for documenting long-term exploitation of cetaceans. Vancouver, BC. April 2, 2017.

Surma, S., and Pitcher, T.J. Whale population recovery and forage fish in a Northeast Pacific ecosystem. ICES-PICES International Symposium on Drivers of Dynamics of Small Pelagic Fish Resources. Victoria, BC. March 10, 2017.

Surma, S., Pitcher, T.J., Perry, R.I. and Kumar, R. A reassessment of carrying capacity estimates for Northeast Pacific herring stocks. ICES-PICES International Symposium on Drivers of Dynamics of Small Pelagic Fish Resources. Victoria, BC. March 9, 2017.

Surma, S., and Pitcher, T.J. Effects of herring fishing strategies on a modelled Northeast Pacific ecosystem. ICES Annual Science Conference. Theme session Q: Harvest control rules: beyond FMSY for an ecosystem approach to fisheries? Riga, Latvia. September 19, 2016.

Surma, S., and Pitcher, T.J. Examining the effects of herring fishing strategies on a Northeast Pacific ecosystem. Alaska Marine Science Symposium. Anchorage, AK. January 28, 2016.

Surma, S., and Pitcher, T.J. Predicting the ecological effects of Northeast Pacific herring fisheries on marine mammal populations. 21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals. San Francisco, CA. December 16, 2015.

Surma, S., and Pitcher, T.J. The ecological consequences of whale depletion and recovery: insights from ecosystem modeling. 21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals. Workshop: Ecological roles and importance of marine mammals in aquatic ecosystems. San Francisco, CA. December 12, 2015.

Surma, S., and Pitcher, T.J. “So Wide a Chase:” modelling the ecological consequences of whaling in two oceans. Oceans Past V conference. Tallinn, Estonia. May 19, 2015.

Surma, S. Fisheries effects of sperm whale recovery; insights from ecosystem modelling. 22nd Annual BC Marine Mammal Symposium. UBC. Vancouver, BC. November 22, 2014.

Surma, S., Pakhomov, E.A., and Pitcher, T.J. Whaling, primary productivity and the changing structure of the Southern Ocean food web. Ecopath 30 Years Conference. Barcelona, Spain. November 11, 2014.

Surma, S., and Pitcher, T.J. An ecological assessment of sablefish fisheries in British Columbia using the RAPFISH rapid appraisal technique. 18th Western Groundfish Conference. Victoria, BC. February 13, 2014.

Surma, S., and Pitcher, T.J. Ecological interactions between forage fish, rorquals, and fisheries in a Northeast Pacific ecosystem. Alaska Marine Science Symposium. Anchorage, AK. January 24, 2014.

Surma, S. Potential effects of whale population recovery in Haida Gwaii waters. 21st Annual BC Marine Mammal Symposium. UBC. Vancouver, BC. November 23, 2013.

Surma, S. Ecological interactions between forage fish, rorquals, and fisheries in Haida Gwaii. PICES Annual Meeting. Nanaimo, BC. October 20, 2013.

Surma, S. Killer whale (Orcinus orca) predation as a cause of the decline of sea otters (Enhydra lutris) in the Aleutian Islands: a review. 15th Annual Meeting of the Northwest Student Chapter of the Society for Marine Mammalogy. UBC. Vancouver, BC. May 7, 2011.

Other presentations
Surma, S., Pitcher, T.J., Skaret, G., and Lam, M.E. EwE modelling of the Norwegian and Barents Sea (NorBar) ecosystem: current status and future developments. Institute for Marine Research, Bergen, Norway. October 15, 2019.