Ecosystem Health

See all current research projects here.

Completed Projects

Akmajian, Adrianne, Principal Investigator

Researchers surveyed for algal toxins in fish species caught in tribal commercial fisheries to increase research and monitoring capacity within the Makah Tribe through expanding the Tribe’s capability to perform algal toxin analyses in-house.

Akmajian, Adrianne, Principal Investigator

Researchers used molecular scatology and quantitative models to advance understanding of how winter and spring pinniped predation on Chinook salmon in Northwest Washington affects salmon recovery and Southern Resident Killer Whales.

Carrington, Emily, Principal Investigator

This project expanded on ocean acidification and temperature research relating to local mussel species to test for causes of seasonal weakening of mussel attachment.

Cattolico, Rose Ann, Principal Investigator

Using a broad, integrated toolbox of techniques, researchers uncovered important information about Heterosigma’s behavior, life-history parameters, and metabolism. These findings can be used to build a testable model for predicting harmful algal blooms.

Chadsey, Meg, Principal Investigator

Researchers developed trainings and identified research and stakeholder needs to advance the practice of sustainable seaweed farming in the Pacific Northwest.

Cordell, Jeffery, Principal Investigator

In collaboration with the City of Seattle, investigators utilized a habitat-friendly design for documenting activity around the downtown seawall, showing the way to better seawall design around the world.

Cordell, Jeffery, Principal Investigator

Researchers provided precise data on the benefits of Seattle seawall enhancements, enabling managers to choose the best elements for improving juvenile salmon survival and adult returns.

Cordell, Jeffery, Principal Investigator

Local officials, state resource managers and conscientious property owners have shown growing enthusiasm for removing bulkheads to restore natural shorelines and shore habitats.

Dahl, Peter, Principal Investigator

Researchers refined and tested an underwater sound propagation model, which can be used to protect marine mammals from construction noise.

Davis, Jonathan, Principal Investigator

Researchers used genetic approaches to develop broodstocks for the shellfish industry that are better adapted to increasingly corrosive seawater impacting our coasts and estuaries.

Dethier, Megan, Principal Investigator

This research provided long-needed data and protocols for evaluating beach armoring impacts and shoreline restoration benefits, leveraging state funds to expand this research.

Essington, Tim, Principal Investigator

Seeking to better understand the ecological consequences of hypoxia, researchers explored Dungeness crab and English sole distribution in Hood Canal during late summer periods of low dissolved oxygen.

Friedman, Carolyn, Principal Investigator

Washington Sea Grant research documented the effects on performance of later-life and transgenerational Pacific oysters due to early exposure to acidified waters, and assessed genetic factors for breeding acidification-tolerant lines.

Friedman, Carolyn, Principal Investigator

Examining five ecologically and economically important bivalves, researchers found these species exhibit different susceptibility to increasing CO2 levels. Under the conditions tested, clams were relative winners and oysters losers.

Friedman, Carolyn, Principal Investigator

Researchers assessed whether native eelgrass and Pacific oysters can synergistically enhance their environments.

Gallagher, Evan, Principal Investigator

Building off work from the previous project, “Effect of Salmon Omega-3 Fatty Acids on PBDE toxicity,” researchers used zebrafish as a low-cost model for studying the environmental and health hazards of toxic PDBEs.

Gallagher, Evan, Principal Investigator

Research tested the impacts of high ocean carbon dioxide levels on the sense of smell of coho salmon and sablefish including its effects on feeding and ability to avoid predators.

Gallagher, Evan, Principal Investigator

Exploring the interaction between harmful PBDEs and helpful omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, researchers assessed the health risks and benefits of eating seafood. Results showed that antioxidants in salmon and other foods have beneficial effects in cells and may have protective properties against toxic PDBEs in vivo.

Gallagher, Evan, Principal Investigator

This study clarified the mechanisms that underlie loss of smell in coho salmon and determined the effects of increased waterborne CO2 on olfactory and navigational functions, both of which are crucial to salmons’ ability to find their way back to their home streams to spawn.

Greengrove, Cheryl, Principal Investigator

Studies revealed that surface-sediment cyst mapping alone may not reveal the full risk of Alexandrium catenella blooms. Determining the share of cysts capable of germinating helps shellfish growers anticipate toxic blooms.

Grünbaum, Daniel, Principal Investigator

This project deployed a new imager network to collect and disseminate continuous, broad-scale data on harmful algal blooms to improve detection, monitoring, and mitigation processes.

Grünbaum, Daniel, Principal Investigator

Researchers created new imaging technology for monitoring harmful Alexandrium and Heterosigma algae, and developed a new model for predicting when and where Heterosigma will form HABs.

Hauser, Lorenz, Principal Investigator

Researchers used genetic markers to establish the distribution of genetically distinct Puget Sound herring populations to identify causes for specific population declines, anticipate future threats and adjust management strategies to protect population diversity.

Helfield, James, Principal Investigator

Engineered log jams were tested for their ability to promote shallow groundwater upwelling, which can help create cool-water refuges critical for Pacific salmon.

Holtgrieve, Gordon, Principal Investigator

This project used a new, state-of-the-art technique called compound-specific isotope analysis to examine the ratios of two nitrogen isotopes in archived seal bone collagen. With these data, researchers were able to address hypotheses about the role of increasing marine predator biomass on coastal ecosystems.

Johnson, Paul, Principal Investigator

Research cruises resulted in discovery of glass sponge reefs, methane bubble streams, and dense swarms of krill in Grays Canyon, spurring large-scale geological research investment in the area.

Keil, Richard, Principal Investigator

SoundCitizen directly engaged more than 2,000 people each year in documenting common yet undetected Puget Sound contaminants and raised the awareness of students from middle school through college about the link between everyday chemicals and human and environmental health.

Keister, Julie, Principal Investigator

Researchers quantified the differential growth and survival rates in acidified waters of zooplankton species that are fundamental to the marine food web. Throughout the project, the team engaged hundreds of citizens, journalists, teachers, legislators, and schoolchildren in the issue of ocean acidification.

Keister, Julie, Principal Investigator

Researchers analyzed the ecosystem impacts of jellyfish in Puget Sound using mesocosm experiments, monitoring, and ecosystem modeling.

Keister, Julie, Principal Investigator

Investigators aimed to advance understanding of how different plankton communities respond to physical and biological factors throughout the Salish Sea by using new, powerful and inexpensive technology from the field of metagenomics.

McDonald, P. Sean, Principal Investigator

Researchers developed an environmental DNA assay tool to identify the invasive European green crab, which can be used by a citizen science program to support monitoring efforts.

Miner, Benjamin, Principal Investigator

Researchers surveyed intertidal and nearshore areas of the coastline to monitor sea star populations.

Nesbitt, Elizabeth, Principal Investigator

By cataloguing declining foraminifera, researchers worked to develop a tool for monitoring Puget Sound’s health.

Nesbitt, Elizabeth, Principal Investigator

Continuing an ongoing project, researchers developed a tool for monitoring Puget Sound’s health using benthic foraminifera.

Ogston, Andrea, Principal Investigator

Researchers studied how Elwha dam removals affected sediment deposition, light obstruction, water conditions, and algae and other marine life at the river’s mouth.

Parrish, Julia, Principal Investigator

This project took a closer look at how oil spills affect different species of Pacific Northwest seabirds to better predict the taxon-specific vulnerability to oiling.

Quinn, Thomas, Principal Investigator

Joining a collaborative team of scientists, researchers investigated a wide range of ecosystems and salmonid populations in the newly reopened Elwha river system, documenting the “before” needed to understand the “after” that will follow two historic dam removals.

Rollwagen-Bollens, Gretchen, Principal Investigator

High school students gathered water, plankton and hydrographic data in the Columbia River estuary to learn about and assess relative effects of cumulative watershed drainage and local factors such as sewage outflows.

Rottle, Nancy, Principal Investigator

Researchers designed and constructed an innovative, multifunctional stormwater treatment system that may significantly reduce pollution and serve as a model for Puget Sound communities.

Ruesink, Jennifer, Principal Investigator

Using trained birdwatchers, remote sensors, and seine sampling, researchers determined how fish and seabirds use eelgrass meadows from Willapa to Fidalgo Bay.

Rybczyk, John, Principal Investigator

To gauge potential carbon sequestration in Northwest estuaries, researchers measured stored carbon in a Stillaguamish River saltmarsh restoration and how quickly it accumulates.

Schumacker, Ervin Joe, Principal Investigator

This project created a low-cost model nearshore and a shore-based monitoring network that engaged tribal fishers and youth in gathering coastal water-quality information related to ocean acidification.

Shull, David, Principal Investigator

Researchers investigated the relationship between Puget Sound eelgrass and porewater sulfide, aiding in restoration efforts and informing eelgrass restoration strategies in Puget Sound.

Stark, John, Principal Investigator

This research addressed solutions to reducing the toxic impact of stormwater, aiming to provide better tools for managing stormwater runoff in Puget Sound.

Wainstein, Michelle, Principal Investigator

A map-based otter sighting website helped improve data collection, engage the public, and encourage stewardship of a living landscape that meets the needs of people and wildlife.

Wasser, Samuel, Principal Investigator

Using scat-detection dogs and long-term physiological, reproductive, and toxicant monitoring, researchers worked to unravel the mystery of the Salish Sea orcas’ persistent decline.