Ecosystem Health

Habitat

A blue carbon assessment for the Stillaguamish River estuary: quantifying the benefits of tidal marsh restoration

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

Principal Investigator
John Rybczyk

Effects of Sediment Porewater Sulfide on Eelgrass Health, Distribution, and Population Growth in Puget Sound

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

Principal Investigator
David Shull

Higher trophic-level function of seagrass-vegetated and unvegetated tideflats in Washington

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

Principal Investigator
Jennifer Ruesink

Impacts of Armoring on Puget Sound Beaches: Diverse Effects on Diverse Scales

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

Principal Investigator
Megan Dethier

Integrating Intertidal Habitat into Seattle’s Waterfront Seawall, Phase 2

In collaboration with the City of Seattle, investigators produced a new wildlife-friendly design for the downtown seawall, showing the way to better seawall design around the world.

Principal Investigator
Jeffery Cordell

Progress toward a new sedimentary and ecological equilibrium: habitat modification from Elwha Dam removal

How Elwha dam removals affect sediment deposition, light obstruction, water conditions, and algae and other marine life at the river's mouth.

Principal Investigator
Andrea Ogston

Recovery of Elwha River Salmon and Trout After Dam Removal: Recolonization and the Awakening of Dormant Life History Diversity

Joining a collaborative team of scientists, researchers are investigating 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.

Principal Investigator
Thomas Quinn

Salmon Habitat Restoration in Thermally Impaired Waters: Engineered Log Jams, Hyporheic Exchange and Cool-Water Refuge

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

Principal Investigator
James Helfield

Shoreline armoring removal: synthesis and assessment of restoration effectiveness in Puget Sound

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

Principal Investigator
Jeffrey Cordell

Harmful Algal Blooms

A Low-Cost Sensor Network for Early Detection of Alexandrium and Heterosigma Harmful Algal Blooms in the Puget Sound Region

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

Principal Investigator
Daniel Grünbaum

Optical Detection and Characterization of Pre-HAB Populations of the Fish-killing Alga, Heterosigma akashiwo

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.

Principal Investigator
Daniel Grünbaum

Troubled Sediments: Heterosigma Cyst Formation and Longevity

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.

Principal Investigator
Rose Ann Cattolico

Understanding Dormancy Requirements and Germination of Alexandrium Cysts and Evaluating Cyst Mapping as a Tool for Early Warning of Harmful Algal Blooms

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.

Principal Investigator
Cheryl Greengrove

Marine Life

Fine-scale Monitoring of Puget Sound Ecosystems Using Benthic Foraminifera

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

Principal Investigator
Elizabeth Nesbitt

Glass Sponge Reef Habitat in the Pacific Northwest

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.

Principal Investigator
Paul Johnson

Non-Invasive Physiological Monitoring of Southern Resident Killer Whales

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.

Principal Investigator
Samuel Wasser

Otter Spotter: Engaging the public in a new community science initiative

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

Principal Investigator
Michelle Wainstein

Prevalence and Virulence of Sea Star Wasting Syndrome along the Washington Coast

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

Principal Investigator
Benjamin Miner

Using Microbiota for the Evaluation and Monitoring of Puget Sound Ecosystems

By cataloguing declining foraminifera, researchers are developing a tool for monitoring Puget Sound’s health.

Principal Investigator
Elizabeth Nesbitt

Ocean Acidification

Crossbreeding and Selection for Resistance to Ocean Acidification in Pacific Oysters

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

Principal Investigator
Jonathan Davis

Effects of Early Exposure of Pacific Oysters to Ocean Acidification on Subsequent Performance

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

Principal Investigator
Carolyn S. Friedman

Effects of Ocean Acidification on Declining Puget Sound Calcifiers

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.

Principal Investigator
Carolyn S. Friedman

Effects of ocean acidification on salmon and sablefish neurobehavioral function

Research tests 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.

Principal Investigator
Evan Gallagher

Effects of Ocean Acidification on Trophically Important Crustacean Zooplankton of Washington State

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.

Principal Investigator
Julie Keister

Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Wild and Farmed Mussels in Puget Sound

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

Principal Investigator
Emily Carrington

Water Quality, Pollution

Acoustic Propagation Measurement and Modeling in Puget Sound to Support Noise Environmental Impact Efforts

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

Principal Investigator
Peter Dahl

Columbia River Estuary Science Education and Outreach (CRESCENDO): a landscape-scale university–high school partnership integrating scientific and educational research

High school students gather 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.

Principal Investigator
Gretchen Rollwagen-Bollens

Effect of Salmon Omega-3 Fatty Acids on PBDE Toxicity

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

Principal Investigator
Evan Gallagher

Effects of Waterfront Stormwater Solution Prototypes on Water Quality Runoff

Researchers design and construct an innovative, multifunctional stormwater treatment system that may significantly reduce pollution in Penn Cove and serve as a model for other Puget Sound communities.

Principal Investigator
Nancy Rottle

How Does Hypoxia Impact Marine Food Webs and Fisheries? Evaluating Distributional Shifts in Hood Canal, Washington

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.

Principal Investigator
Tim Essington

Sound Citizen: Students and Citizens Working Together to Evaluate Sources and Fates of Emerging Pollutants in Puget Sound

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.

Principal Investigator
Richard Keil

The Biological Effectiveness of Bioretention for Stormwater Pollution Control

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

Principal Investigator
John Stark

Understanding Potential Impacts of Seasonal Hypoxia Along the Quinault Reservation Coast

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

Principal Investigator
Ervin Joe Schumacker

Use of Zebrafish to Assess Health Effects of Persistent Pollutants in Pacific Salmon

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.

Principal Investigator
Evan Gallagher