Presentation Abstract

Marine ecosystems in the Salish Sea are subject to a variety of pollution-based disturbances that restructure the composition of the vegetative and animal communities. A prime historical example of this is the effluent discharged from pulp mills across the province, which have been shown to have substantial negative impacts on coastal biodiversity. However, as environmental regulations have become more stringently enforced and the economic drivers of pulp mills have slowed down, in some areas much of this pollution has abated. The diminishment and in some cases, elimination of such disturbances provides a unique opportunity to assess the recovery of communities once affected by the mill discharge. This also allows an opportunity to better understand how to develop successful marine habitat reclamation strategies for coastal sites when pollution inputs may also be present. To develop a marine ecosystem assessment model, we used a long-term monitoring dataset spanning three decades to study rocky intertidal communities situated around Salish Sea pulp mills in Howe Sound, Powell River and compared with sites in Prince Rupert. Using this dataset, we demonstrate how proximity to the pollution source negatively influenced the intertidal community at these sites. Next, we examine how the community composition shifts and recovers once the pollution disturbance is alleviated. Lastly, we take a specific look at which species and which life history traits are best able to survive in a disturbed environment and which species are best able to recolonize those once disturbed locations. This research provides insight into classic ecological theory, applied understanding of the impacts and implications of anthropogenic activity in marine ecosystems via ecological risk assessment, and novel methods by which to assess those industrial impacts and recommend successful reclamation and restoration strategies.

Session Title

Modeling the Effects of Pesticides, Toxicants, and Multiple Stressors on the Fish Populations and Ecological Communities of the Salish Sea

Keywords

Marine pollution, Intertidal community, Pollution, Salish Sea

Conference Track

SSE3: Fate, Transport, and Toxicity of Chemicals

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (Seattle, WA : 2018)

Document Type

Event

SSEC Identifier

SSE3-366

Start Date

5-4-2018 10:45 AM

End Date

5-4-2018 11:00 AM

Type of Presentation

Oral

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Geographic Coverage

Salish Sea (B.C. and Wash.)

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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Apr 5th, 10:45 AM Apr 5th, 11:00 AM

If historic marine pollution ceases, will the natural intertidal community return? How exposure to and release from pollution disturbance shapes rocky intertidal communities in the Salish Sea

Marine ecosystems in the Salish Sea are subject to a variety of pollution-based disturbances that restructure the composition of the vegetative and animal communities. A prime historical example of this is the effluent discharged from pulp mills across the province, which have been shown to have substantial negative impacts on coastal biodiversity. However, as environmental regulations have become more stringently enforced and the economic drivers of pulp mills have slowed down, in some areas much of this pollution has abated. The diminishment and in some cases, elimination of such disturbances provides a unique opportunity to assess the recovery of communities once affected by the mill discharge. This also allows an opportunity to better understand how to develop successful marine habitat reclamation strategies for coastal sites when pollution inputs may also be present. To develop a marine ecosystem assessment model, we used a long-term monitoring dataset spanning three decades to study rocky intertidal communities situated around Salish Sea pulp mills in Howe Sound, Powell River and compared with sites in Prince Rupert. Using this dataset, we demonstrate how proximity to the pollution source negatively influenced the intertidal community at these sites. Next, we examine how the community composition shifts and recovers once the pollution disturbance is alleviated. Lastly, we take a specific look at which species and which life history traits are best able to survive in a disturbed environment and which species are best able to recolonize those once disturbed locations. This research provides insight into classic ecological theory, applied understanding of the impacts and implications of anthropogenic activity in marine ecosystems via ecological risk assessment, and novel methods by which to assess those industrial impacts and recommend successful reclamation and restoration strategies.