Event Title

Quantifying modern baselines for an uncertain future: results from a multi-dimensional shoreline biological inventory

Presentation Abstract

It has long been established that impacts to biological communities are difficult to measure without establishing baselines prior to the environmental change. Although modern records do not provide a quantitative dataset of past ecological function or productivity, they still can provide resource managers with valuable information when assessing current or impending threats. The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community (SITC) has a vested interest in ensuring that biological communities in nearshore habitats around the Reservation support the health and wellbeing of the Swinomish community for the next seven generations. Previous biological surveys on SITC tidelands have been limited in scope by geographic location or they have been species-specific (e.g., juvenile salmon or bivalve surveys). In order to address these data gaps, we designed a survey to quantify benthic and infaunal species presence and abundance across environmental gradients and latitude. Our goals were to describe how species diversity/abundance varied by (1) salinity regime, (2) elevation, or (3) substrate. Sixteen transects were deployed from 0 to 2.44 m relative to MLLW in the summer of 2017, across 15 km of Reservation shoreline. At each transect, samples from five elevation contours were surveyed using 0.25m2 quadrats identifying surface macro-invertebrate and algal species to the lowest taxonomic level possible before excavating to 30cm and sieving material through 7mm mesh for benthic species. Species richness and individual species biomass showed variability between beaches across the study region. Our biological assessment will be integrated with site-specific projections of habitat vulnerability and SITC community health metrics; this will allow us to incorporate climate change and SITC-specific value rankings into site evaluations. Our multi-dimensional approach to habitat evaluations will provide resource managers throughout the Salish Sea with a model for quantitatively ranking and prioritizing vulnerable and culturally-important beaches within an adaptation strategy.

Session Title

Posters: Data & Information Management

Conference Track

SSE18: Posters

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (Seattle, WA : 2018)

Document Type

Event

SSEC Identifier

SSE18-32

Start Date

5-4-2018 11:30 AM

End Date

5-4-2018 1:30 PM

Type of Presentation

Poster

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, 11:30 AM Apr 5th, 1:30 PM

Quantifying modern baselines for an uncertain future: results from a multi-dimensional shoreline biological inventory

It has long been established that impacts to biological communities are difficult to measure without establishing baselines prior to the environmental change. Although modern records do not provide a quantitative dataset of past ecological function or productivity, they still can provide resource managers with valuable information when assessing current or impending threats. The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community (SITC) has a vested interest in ensuring that biological communities in nearshore habitats around the Reservation support the health and wellbeing of the Swinomish community for the next seven generations. Previous biological surveys on SITC tidelands have been limited in scope by geographic location or they have been species-specific (e.g., juvenile salmon or bivalve surveys). In order to address these data gaps, we designed a survey to quantify benthic and infaunal species presence and abundance across environmental gradients and latitude. Our goals were to describe how species diversity/abundance varied by (1) salinity regime, (2) elevation, or (3) substrate. Sixteen transects were deployed from 0 to 2.44 m relative to MLLW in the summer of 2017, across 15 km of Reservation shoreline. At each transect, samples from five elevation contours were surveyed using 0.25m2 quadrats identifying surface macro-invertebrate and algal species to the lowest taxonomic level possible before excavating to 30cm and sieving material through 7mm mesh for benthic species. Species richness and individual species biomass showed variability between beaches across the study region. Our biological assessment will be integrated with site-specific projections of habitat vulnerability and SITC community health metrics; this will allow us to incorporate climate change and SITC-specific value rankings into site evaluations. Our multi-dimensional approach to habitat evaluations will provide resource managers throughout the Salish Sea with a model for quantitatively ranking and prioritizing vulnerable and culturally-important beaches within an adaptation strategy.