William Kolby Smith

William Kolby Smith, Luc Hoffmann Institute

Bill is a Luc Hoffmann Institute Fellow working on the Assessing Sustainability Standards project at the University of Minnesota, USA. Bill is an ecologist with experience in the application of global satellite data and ecosystem process models to large-scale climate, food, and energy issues.

He joins a collaborative research team developing and testing sustainability standards for key global commodities that have the greatest impact on ecosystem services such as biodiversity, water, and climate stability. Implemented effectively, global sustainability standards could have immense policy relevance and ultimately help to optimise production to meet a growing global demand while minimising environmental trade-offs.

“One of the most urgent challenges facing humanity is how to meet future global food, fuel, and fibre demand while minimising detrimental environmental consequences.” says Bill.

“Joining the Luc Hoffmann institute provides me the unique opportunity to conduct meaningful scientific exploration with the aim of informing and shaping global food and energy policy.”


2013-2014 Post-Doctoral Fellow, U.S. Geological Survey
2009-2013 PhD, University of Montana, specialization: ecosystem ecology & remote sensing
2006-2008 MS, Colorado State University, specialisation: ecology & biogeochemistry
2000-2005 BS, Western Carolina University, Major: applied mathematics and biology



Accepted or in preparation:

  • Wieder, W.R., Cleveland, C.C., Smith, W.K., Todd-Brown, K. Nutrient availability strongly constrains future terrestrial productivity and carbon storage. Nature Geoscience (accepted).
  • Allred, B.W., Smith, W.K., Twidwell, D., Haggerty, J.H., Running, S.W., Naugle, D.E., Fuhlenforf, S.D. The loss of ecosystem services to accelerated oil and gas development in North America. Science (in revision).
  • Cleveland, C.C., Taylor, P., Chadwick, D.K., Dahlin, K., Doughty, C.E., Malhi, Y., Smith, W.K., Sullivan, B.W., Wieder, W.R., Townsend, A.R. An inter-comparison of plot-scale, satellite and earth system model estimates of tropical net primary production. Global Biogeochemical Cycles (in revision).
  • Ahrestani, F.S., Smith, W.K., Hebblewhite, M., Running, S.W., Post, E. Density dependence and population stability at the species distribution scale. Oikos (in revision).
  • Anderegg, W.R.L., Ballantyne, A.P., Smith, W.K., Majkut, J., Rabin, S., Kauppi, P., Beauleau, C., Birdsey, R., Dunne, J, Houghton, R, Myneni, R., Pan, Y., Sarmiento, J., Serota, N., Shevliakova, E., Tans, P., Pacala, S. Sensitivity of respiration to tropical nighttime warming drives increasing variability in the terrestrial carbon sink. Nature (in review).
  • Smith, W.K., Reed, S.C., Ballantyne A.P., Cleveland, C.C., Anderegg, W.R.L., Wieder W.R., Running, S.W. Satellite observations call into question Earth system model projections of global terrestrial CO2 fertilization Nature Climate Change (in review).


  • Small, E.E., Larson K.M, Smith, W.K. 2014. Normalized Microwave Reflectance Index: Validation of Water Content Estimates from Montana Grasslands. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing DOI: 10.1109/JSTARS.2014.2320597.
  • Sullivan, B.W., Smith, W.K., Nasto, M.K., Reed, S.C., Townsend, A.R., Chazdon, R., Cleveland, C.C. 2014. Spatially robust estimates of biological nitrogen (N) fixation imply substantial human alteration of the tropical N cycle. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 111, 8101-8106.
  • Hurley, M.A., Hebblewhite, M., Gaillard, J., Dray, S., Taylor, K.A., Smith, W.K., Zager, P., Bonenfant, C. 2014. Functional analysis of NDVI curves reveals overwinter mule deer survival is driven by both spring and fall phenology. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 369, 20130196.
  • Wang, J., Dong, J., Liu, J., Huang, M., Li, G., Running, S.W., Smith, W.K., Harris, W., Fujinuma, Y., Kondo, H., Lui, Y., Hirano, T., Gamo, M., Xiao, X. 2014. Comparison of Gross Primary Productivity Estimates derived from GIMMS NDVI3g, GIMMS, and MODIS in Southeast Asia. Remote Sensing 6, 2108-2133.
  • Smith, W.K., Cleveland, C.C., Reed, S.C., Running, S.W. 2014. Agricultural conversion without external water and nutrient inputs reduces terrestrial vegetation productivity. Geophysical Research Letters 41, 449-455. (Research Highlight, Nature Geoscience).
  • Haberl, H., Erb, K.H., Krausmann, F., Running, S.W., Searchinger, T.D., Smith, W.K. 2013. Bioenergy: how much can we expect for 2050? Environmental Research Letters 8, 031004.
  • Cleveland, C.C., Houlton, B.Z., Smith, W.K., Marklein, A.R., Reed, S.C., Parton, W.J., Del Grosso, S.J., Running, S.W. 2013. Patterns of new versus recycled primary production in the terrestrial biosphere. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 110, 12733-12737.
  • Running, S.W., Smith, W.K. 2012. Pushing the Planetary Boundaries-Response. Science 338, 1420-1420.
  • Smith, W.K., Zhao, M., Running, S.W. 2012. Global bioenergy capacity as constrained by observed biospheric productivity rates. BioScience 62, 911-922 (Editorial, BioScience; Research Highlight, Science).
  • Smith, W.K., Cleveland, C.C., Reed, S.C., Miller, N.L., Running, S.W. 2012. Bioenergy potential of the United States constrained by satellite observations of existing productivity. Environmental Science & Technology 46, 3536-3544 (Research Highlight, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment).
  • Rout, M.E., Chrzanowski, T.H., Smith, W.K., Gough L. 2012. Ecological impacts of the invasive grass Sorghum halepense on native tallgrass prairie. Biological Invasions 15, 327-339.
  • Smith, W.K., Gao, W., Steltzer, H., Wallenstein, M.D., Tree, R. 2010. Moisture availability influences the effect of ultraviolet-B radiation on leaf litter decomposition. Global Change Biology 16, 484-495.
  • Smith, W.K., Gao, W., Steltzer, H. 2009. Current and future impacts of ultraviolet radiation on the terrestrial carbon balance. Frontiers of Earth Science 3, 34-41.
Luc Hoffmann InstituteWilliam Kolby Smith