Proposed Abstract Title

Ecosystem implications of Zostera marina loss and Zostera japonica recolonization in the Port Madison Reservation, central Puget Sound

Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

The Role of Eelgrass Ecosystems in the Salish Sea

Location

2016SSEC

Description

Eelgrass plays an important role in coastal ecosystems by providing substrate, shelter, and nurseries for a diverse ecological community; attenuating flow; stabilizing sediments; and sequestering carbon. Eelgrass also serves as an indicator of environmental change because plants need certain water and substrate characteristics to survive. Between 2009 and 2012, a 2 to 3 hectare eelgrass bed on the west shore of Point Bolin (Port Madison Reservation, Kitsap County) transitioned from one dominated by Zostera marina to one dominated by Z. japonica. The potential loss of ecosystem services provided by this Z. marina bed is of concern because members of the Suquamish Tribe depend on salmon and shellfish that use Z. marina. Furthermore, if the loss of this Z. marina bed was related to declining environmental quality, other eelgrass beds in the Port Madison Reservation and in the region could be at risk. We explore potential causes of the Z. marina disappearance at this site and implications of the altered ecological functions associated with Z. japonica colonization. Dwarf eelgrass, Z. japonica, is smaller than Z. marina and grows higher on the beach. Understanding these causes and effects can help guide nearshore management decisions that affect critical eelgrass habitat and its ecological community.

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Ecosystem implications of Zostera marina loss and Zostera japonica recolonization in the Port Madison Reservation, central Puget Sound

2016SSEC

Eelgrass plays an important role in coastal ecosystems by providing substrate, shelter, and nurseries for a diverse ecological community; attenuating flow; stabilizing sediments; and sequestering carbon. Eelgrass also serves as an indicator of environmental change because plants need certain water and substrate characteristics to survive. Between 2009 and 2012, a 2 to 3 hectare eelgrass bed on the west shore of Point Bolin (Port Madison Reservation, Kitsap County) transitioned from one dominated by Zostera marina to one dominated by Z. japonica. The potential loss of ecosystem services provided by this Z. marina bed is of concern because members of the Suquamish Tribe depend on salmon and shellfish that use Z. marina. Furthermore, if the loss of this Z. marina bed was related to declining environmental quality, other eelgrass beds in the Port Madison Reservation and in the region could be at risk. We explore potential causes of the Z. marina disappearance at this site and implications of the altered ecological functions associated with Z. japonica colonization. Dwarf eelgrass, Z. japonica, is smaller than Z. marina and grows higher on the beach. Understanding these causes and effects can help guide nearshore management decisions that affect critical eelgrass habitat and its ecological community.