Presentation Abstract

The Washington State Department of Ecology has been collecting data on Puget Sound sediment-dwelling (benthic) invertebrates since 1989, as part of the Marine Sediment Monitoring Program. Benthic organisms serve key functions, including processing and storage of organic material and cycling of nutrients needed by other components of the ecosystem. Benthic invertebrates are an integral part of the marine food web and biogeochemical processes that support salmon, orcas, and humans and are a key component of the Puget Sound ecosystem. We are finding significant declines in the overall condition of benthic communities, with 44% of the study area adversely affected. Many of the adversely affected benthic communities were found in terminal inlets and bays. Throughout Puget Sound, an increase of pollution/hypoxia-tolerant species and a decrease in sensitive species has occurred over time. Deterioration of benthic communities does not correspond well with changes in individual chemical contaminants measured or laboratory tests of sediment toxicity. The spatial distribution of benthic communities is in part defined by the changing physical and oceanographic habitat. Changes in the abundance and composition of the benthic invertebrate community over time may indicate responses of the ecosystem to climatic stressors and large-scale ecological shifts such as changing hydrological, nutrient, oxygen, or acidic conditions.

Session Title

Long-term Changes in Salish Sea Kelp Forests and the Benthos: Evidence of Response to Chemical Contaminants, Nutrient Loading, and Climate Change Pressures

Keywords

Sediment monitoring, Benthic invertebrates, Puget Sound ecosystem, Biogeochemical processes

Conference Track

SSE16: Long-Term Monitoring of Salish Sea Ecosystems

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (Seattle, WA : 2018)

Document Type

Event

SSEC Identifier

SSE16-374

Start Date

6-4-2018 11:15 AM

End Date

6-4-2018 11:30 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 6th, 11:15 AM Apr 6th, 11:30 AM

Declines in Puget Sound sediment-dwelling communities and a new focus on climate, nutrient, and other ecosystem stressors

The Washington State Department of Ecology has been collecting data on Puget Sound sediment-dwelling (benthic) invertebrates since 1989, as part of the Marine Sediment Monitoring Program. Benthic organisms serve key functions, including processing and storage of organic material and cycling of nutrients needed by other components of the ecosystem. Benthic invertebrates are an integral part of the marine food web and biogeochemical processes that support salmon, orcas, and humans and are a key component of the Puget Sound ecosystem. We are finding significant declines in the overall condition of benthic communities, with 44% of the study area adversely affected. Many of the adversely affected benthic communities were found in terminal inlets and bays. Throughout Puget Sound, an increase of pollution/hypoxia-tolerant species and a decrease in sensitive species has occurred over time. Deterioration of benthic communities does not correspond well with changes in individual chemical contaminants measured or laboratory tests of sediment toxicity. The spatial distribution of benthic communities is in part defined by the changing physical and oceanographic habitat. Changes in the abundance and composition of the benthic invertebrate community over time may indicate responses of the ecosystem to climatic stressors and large-scale ecological shifts such as changing hydrological, nutrient, oxygen, or acidic conditions.