Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

The Role of Eelgrass Ecosystems in the Salish Sea

Description

Eelgrass (Zostera marina L.), the dominant seagrass in the Pacific Northwest region, is an ecologically important component of the marine nearshore throughout greater Puget Sound, WA. Eelgrass and other seagrasses are known to provide extensive ecosystem services worldwide, but are under threat from a suite of anthropogenic stressors, notably nutrient and sediment loading associated with coastal development and population growth. Loading sources span from atmospheric deposition to thousands of outfalls that range from small manmade or natural drainages to the largest permitted facilities in the country. Research has demonstrated seagrasses uptake nutrients, metals and organic contaminants with varied physiological effects, but little is known about the concentration of these substances in eelgrass throughout greater Puget Sound.

In support of the Puget Sound Partnership’s goal to increase eelgrass area by 20% by 2020 and to improve our understanding of key seagrass stressors, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources conducted research on the proximity of loading sources and potential trace pollutants in eelgrass. The project characterized loading sources and conducted a spatial analysis of these sources to identify potential hotspots for risk to eelgrass. In addition, the project assessed baseline concentrations of nutrients, metals, and organic contaminants in eelgrass at 15 sites across Puget Sound and at one additional site where changes in an outfall were anticipated. The concentration of nutrients, metals and organic contaminants in eelgrass aligned with anticipated loading at a few locations, but the pattern was not consistent across all sites and analytes measured. The study provides a valuable baseline of nutrient, metal and contaminant concentrations in eelgrass at a time when resource managers face challenges protecting eelgrass to maintain a healthy and functioning ecosystem.

Comments

Washington State Department of Natural Resources Eelgrass Stressor Response Program: http://www.dnr.wa.gov/programs-and-services/aquatics/aquatic-science/nearshore-habitat-eelgrass-stressor-response-project

Puget Sound Marine and Nearshore Grant Program: http://wdfw.wa.gov/grants/ps_marine_nearshore/funded_projects.html

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Assessment of nutrient, metal, and organic contaminant concentrations in eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) in Puget Sound, WA (USA)

2016SSEC

Eelgrass (Zostera marina L.), the dominant seagrass in the Pacific Northwest region, is an ecologically important component of the marine nearshore throughout greater Puget Sound, WA. Eelgrass and other seagrasses are known to provide extensive ecosystem services worldwide, but are under threat from a suite of anthropogenic stressors, notably nutrient and sediment loading associated with coastal development and population growth. Loading sources span from atmospheric deposition to thousands of outfalls that range from small manmade or natural drainages to the largest permitted facilities in the country. Research has demonstrated seagrasses uptake nutrients, metals and organic contaminants with varied physiological effects, but little is known about the concentration of these substances in eelgrass throughout greater Puget Sound.

In support of the Puget Sound Partnership’s goal to increase eelgrass area by 20% by 2020 and to improve our understanding of key seagrass stressors, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources conducted research on the proximity of loading sources and potential trace pollutants in eelgrass. The project characterized loading sources and conducted a spatial analysis of these sources to identify potential hotspots for risk to eelgrass. In addition, the project assessed baseline concentrations of nutrients, metals, and organic contaminants in eelgrass at 15 sites across Puget Sound and at one additional site where changes in an outfall were anticipated. The concentration of nutrients, metals and organic contaminants in eelgrass aligned with anticipated loading at a few locations, but the pattern was not consistent across all sites and analytes measured. The study provides a valuable baseline of nutrient, metal and contaminant concentrations in eelgrass at a time when resource managers face challenges protecting eelgrass to maintain a healthy and functioning ecosystem.