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Date of Award
Department or Program Affiliation
Master of Science (MS)
Grossman, Eric E.
Understanding sediment sources and fluxes throughout coastal zones is essential to evaluate shoreline stability, ecosystem health, and the potential for carbon storage. In Bellingham Bay, WA, like many developed coastal settings, urban areas have replaced forested cover and altered sediment fluxes, yet little is known of their offshore impacts. I analyzed n-alkanes, found in plant leaf waxes preserved in marine sediments of Bellingham Bay to characterize sediment sources and reconstruct changes in the relative contributions of eelgrass beds to sedimentary organic matter since pre-industrial times using a linear mixing model. Eight 2-meter-long cores were analyzed in order to determine how sediment sources have changed spatially throughout Bellingham Bay. Terrestrial plants contributed the majority of the organic matter to marine sediments in Bellingham Bay. n-Alkane biomarkers show a clear increase in terrestrial sources since pre-industrial times to modern day. The relative contribution of eelgrass to sedimentary organic matter peaked at 28% at a depth of 80 cm, which roughly correlates with the year 1712, and has been in steady decline since. This research has been conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey Coastal Habitats in Puget Sound Project, which is examining the impacts of sediment transport on local marine environments. Results from my study show how eelgrass biomarker relative abundances corelate with long-term changes in carbon storage.
eelgrass, n-alkane, biomarker, Bellingham Bay, urbanization, plant waxes, sediment sources
Western Washington University
Subject – LCSH
Biochemical markers--Washington (State)--Bellingham Bay; Eelgrass--Washington (State)--Bellingham Bay; Urbanization--Washington (State)--Bellingham Bay; Marine sediments--Washington (State)--Bellingham Bay
Bellingham Bay (Wash.)
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Shulman, Jess, "Biomarker study of Bellingham Bay : identifying how urbanization has affected carbon storage and eelgrass" (2023). WWU Graduate School Collection. 1245.