UNDERWATER VISIBILITY – CLEARLY GOOD FOR SCUBA DIVERS, BUT PERHAPS NOT FOR PREY FISH?
Skip Albertson, Christopher Krembs, Laura Hermanson, Julia Bos, Mya Keyzers, Carol Maloy, Dept of Ecology
You’re underwater and wondering if the visibility could get any worse. You should have checked Eyes Over Puget Sound (EOPS) as part of your pre-dive planning! Routine maps of horizontal visibility in Puget Sound are now available from conversion of light transmissometer data collected during routine sea plane surveys undertaken by the WA Dept. of Ecology (see also Eyes Over Puget Sound). There has been a general increase in visibility during the past ten years throughout Puget Sound. Although visibility changes over the daily tidal cycle, there is a surprising amount of persistence – good and bad periods relative to normal seasonal cycles may last for many months. Does that mean that diving going to be great? Best to check the data!
BULL KELP AT SQUAXIN ISLAND: STATUS OF THE SOUTHERNMOST BED IN PUGET SOUND IN 2016
Helen Berry, Washington Department of Natural Resources
Bull kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) provides critical biogenic habitat to a wide range of species and other ecosystem functions, including primary productivity and cycling of nitrogen and carbon. Bull kelp is known to respond to a variety of environmental conditions. There is concern that it has declined in Central and South Puget Sound in recent decades. The bull kelp bed at Tucksel Point on the southern tip of Squaxin Island has been recognized for over 100 years as a notably large and persistent bed and it is one of only a small number of beds currently in South Puget Sound. We surveyed the extent of the surface canopy of the bull kelp bed at Tucksel Point in 2013 and 2016 using a variety of surface-based methods and compared the results. In 2016, total canopy was estimated to be 2.7 ha, approximately one third of the total area estimated in 2013 (9.5 ha). Maximum depth also decreased significantly. In 2016, average maximum depth was -2.5 m (-8 ft) MLLW, compared to -4.4 m (-14.4 ft) MLLW in 2013. Density of kelp (the number of individuals) in 2016 was low (0.32 stipes/m2), no density measurements exist from the 2013 survey for comparison. In 2016, plants appeared to be in poor condition. Many bulbs lacked blades (“bald-headed kelp”). Endophytes, epiphytes and kelp crabs were common. While the degree to which these characteristics affect kelp persistence or reproduction is not well understood, they are generally associated with senescing plants rather than healthy beds. These results raise concerns about the current condition of the Tucksel Point kelp bed. However, since bull kelp exhibits large interannual variability and responds quickly to environmental conditions, it is important to extend the time series by including other existing and future kelp surveys. Analysis of environmental data could also provide additional insight into factors driving bed size and health.
*VASCULAR PLANTS OF THE SOUTH SOUND PRAIRIES
Frederica Bowcutt, The Evergreen State College
Sarah Hamman, Center for Natural Lands Management
This field guide for the vascular plants of the south Puget Sound prairie-oak ecosystems is the product of over a decade of work completed by over forty students from The Evergreen State College working collaboratively to collect herbarium specimens, illustrate and describe plants, and write about the natural and cultural history of these remarkable ecosystems. Multiple local professional scientists with expertise in floristics and restoration ecology have also contributed to the effort, including Evergreen botanist Frederica Bowcutt, Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) restoration ecologist Sarah Hamman, and Centralia College geologist Pat Pringle. This community-generated guide includes illustrations and descriptions of nearly 150 vascular plants found in the glacial outwash prairies and associated oak woodlands from Tacoma to Rochester, Washington. It allows amateurs and professional botanists alike to easily identify many of the plant species in these unique ecosystems. In an appendix, an extensive list is provided of the prairie and oak woodland plant specimens that are maintained at the Evergreen Herbarium. Images of these specimens are available online at pnwherbaria.org. We hope the guide will further the important ecological restoration work already being done in our region and also facilitate greater collaboration in the future with the Tribes in the region who have a long history of tending these cultural landscapes. The book can be purchased at the CNLM’s conference table for $11 including tax (cash preferred) or ordered online at tescbookstore.com
EYES UNDER PUGET SOUND: IDENTIFICATION AND MONITORING OF BENTHIC INVERTEBRATE SPECIES OF THE SOUTH SOUND (AND BEYOND)
Dany Burgess, Angela Eagleston, Margaret Dutch, Valerie Partridge, & Sandra Weakland, Marine Monitoring Unit, Washington State Department of Ecology
Sediment-dwelling invertebrates, known as benthos, are an important part of the Puget Sound food web. Residing in one location for most of their lives, they are chronically exposed to human-caused or natural environmental stressors, and are an excellent indicator of sediment quality. Benthic assemblages have been tracked throughout Puget Sound by the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Marine Sediment Monitoring Program (MSMP) as key biological indicators since 1989. This presentation focuses on the numerically dominant benthic species occurring in the South Sound, and patterns of taxa richness and abundance observed in these communities in relation to other regions of Puget Sound. We describe the innovative and collaborative approaches to quality control and standardization taken by MSMP taxonomists to ensure that species are consistency and accurately identified over time.
*SPATIAL AND TEMPORAL DISTRIBUTION OF JUVENILE SALMON IN THE NISQUALLY ESTUARY AND NEARSHORE
Michael Bussiere (1), Stephen Rubin (1), Christopher Ellings (2), Sayre Hodgson (2), Walker Duval (3),
Michael Hayes (1), Eric Grossman (4)
(1) USGS Western Fisheries Research Center, Seattle WA
(2) Nisqually Indian Tribe Natural Resources, Olympia WA
(3) Nisqually River Foundation
(4) USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center, Santa Cruz CA
Knowing the spatial and temporal distribution of outmigrating juvenile salmon is important for proper management and restoration of estuarine and nearshore habitats. We characterized salmon distributions by beach seining February to October and lampara netting April to September, 2010-2015, at sites spread across the Nisqually estuary and reach. Lampara netting allowed sampling farther offshore than is possible with a beach seine. We will present a series of maps summarizing distributions for Chinook (hatchery and unmarked shown separately), coho, chum, and pink salmon, as well as variation in the size (length) of those species and in water column properties (temperature, salinity, and current speed).
CURRENT STATUS OF EELGRASS IN SOUTH PUGET SOUND
Bart Christiaen, Lisa Ferrier, Pete Dowty, Jeff Gaeckle, & Helen Berry, Washington State Department of Natural Resources
While South Puget Sound is an area where eelgrass (Zostera marina) distribution is limited, there is still a significant presence of these ecologically valuable plants throughout this region. The Department of Natural Resources monitors the status and trends in eelgrass abundance and depth distribution as part of its stewardship responsibilities for managing State Owned Aquatic Lands. This study combines large area survey data from the Washington State ShoreZone Inventory with high resolution, long-term site monitoring to explore patterns in eelgrass distribution in South Puget Sound. Current best estimates indicate that there is approximately 230 ha of eelgrass in South Puget Sound. The majority of these plants are found in small beds along narrow stretches of fringing shoreline. Eelgrass is common in the eastern portion of South Puget Sound and rare-to-absent in the western, extreme reaches and southern inlets. Hypotheses for this distribution pattern include limitation by the large tidal range in South Puget Sound, limited water clarity and lack of propagules. Comparison to tidal range data shows that eelgrass occurs at sites with a relatively large tidal range, but that the depth range where eelgrass grows is reduced compared to other areas of Puget Sound. DNR’s survey and monitoring data have been used to identify stretches of shoreline that are currently not vegetated and that may be suitable for eelgrass growth. Several eelgrass restoration projects are underway to test if the extent of this this valuable habitat can be increased in South Puget Sound.
EXPLORING RESTORATION METHODS FOR THE OLYMPIA OYSTER OSTREA LURIDA CARPENTER, 1864: EFFECTS OF SHELL BED THICKNESS AND SHELL DEPLOYMENT METHODS ON SHELL COVER, OYSTER RECRUITMENT, AND OYSTER DENSITY
Shannon Crossen (1), Danielle C. Zacherl (2), Andrea Moreno (2)
(1) ICF International, 1 Ada, Suite 100, Irvine, CA 926181;
(2) California State University Fullerton, Department of Biological Science, California State University, 800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton, CA 92834-6850
Oysters provide habitat, sediment stabilization, and improved water quality, and are important foundation species in many estuarine ecosystems. Worldwide oyster population declines have been dramatic and efforts to restore declining populations and the services they provide are ongoing. Several commonly used oyster restoration techniques were examined to determine which would be the most successful for restoring the Olympia oyster Ostrea lurida in Newport Bay, CA. Replicate (n = 5) 2 x 2 m shell beds were constructed of two initial shell planting thicknesses (bed thicknesses of 4 versus 12 cm) and two methods of deployment (bagged versus loose shell). Shell cover, oyster spatfall (settlement), oyster recruitment, and adult oyster densities were analyzed over 2 y; 12-cm-thick oyster beds maintained higher shell cover, experienced less sedimentation, and received greater numbers of oyster recruits than 4-cm-thick beds. There was no significant effect of shell deployment method on shell cover, recruitment, or adult density; however, spatfall was greater on loose shell beds compared with bagged shell beds in the final year of the study. Overall, augmenting mudflat habitat with oyster shell significantly increased adult O. lurida oyster density compared with unmanipulated plots and increased oyster density relative to the average density of oysters measured elsewhere in Newport Bay. Collectively, the data suggest that building thicker shell beds might increase the longevity of a constructed shell bed, and therefore, this approach is recommended for future restoration activities in southern California. This study highlights the advantages of augmenting habitat in a manner that provides vertical relief from sedimentation.
THE HOOD CANAL STEELHEAD PROJECT: A WATERSHED-SCALE EXPERIMENT TO ASSESS THE DEMOGRAPHIC, ECOLOGICAL, AND GENETIC IMPACTS OF SUPPLEMENTATION ON NATURAL STEELHEAD
Katy Doctor NOAA, Barry Berejikian NOAA; Northwest Fisheries Science Center
In recent decades, salmon and steelhead hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest have been developed to aid in the conservation and rebuilding of depleted natural populations. The 2007 ESA-listing of Puget Sound steelhead (USOFR 2007) highlights the importance of understanding the impact of conservation hatchery programs on natural populations. The Hood Canal Steelhead Project (HCSP) formed as a collaborative effort between lead NOAA Fisheries, state, tribal, and other federal agencies, and non-profit salmon restoration groups in the Hood Canal watershed. We are currently implementing a watershed-scale experiment to address a question critical to steelhead populations throughout the Pacific Northwest: What are the demographic and genetic impacts of conservation hatchery programs on natural steelhead populations? A before-after control-impact experiment will examine the effect of indiginous broodstock supplementation on productivity, life-history, and genetic characteristics of natural steelhead populations in Hood Canal before, during, and after supplementation. The experiment contains three supplemented streams and three non-supplemented streams. Steelhead are currently being reared to smoltification (age-2) and adulthood (age-4 and -5). Data collected prior to the influence of any hatchery-origin fish suggest natural populations within Hood Canal differ in parr- and smolt-size at age, spawn timing, life history diversity, early marine survival and migration patterns.
PAST AND PRESENT: 2014-2015 TRAWL STUDY FINDINGS AT THE ANDERSON/KETRON ISLAND DREDGED MATERIAL DISPOSAL SITE
Heather Whitney Fourie, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Seattle District
Lauran Warner, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Seattle District
Celia Barton, Washington State Department of Natural Resources
In 2014-2015, the Dredged Material Management Program agencies conducted a trawl study to evaluate the diversity and abundance of epibenthic biological resources in the Nisqually Reach. The Anderson-Ketron (A/K) Disposal Site, one of eight approved sites for the open-water disposal of suitable dredged material within Puget Sound, lies within the Nisqually Reach Aquatic Reserve. The A/K site was established in 1989 in a deep trough between Anderson and Ketron Islands with relatively low abundance of epibenthic invertebrates, based on the results of a 1987 demersal resource evaluation conducted during the Puget Sound Dredged Disposal Analysis study. However, since establishment of the aquatic reserve in 2011, concern about the continued use of the A/K site had been expressed by some stakeholders, who contended that biological resources at the site had changed significantly since 1987 and that dredged material disposal threatened biological resources in the Nisqually Reach. The 2014-15 trawl study was designed to replicate the epibenthic portion of the 1987 study, so as to determine whether any important changes had occurred in the existing epibenthic invertebrate community relative to conditions that existed prior to establishment of the disposal site. A second objective was to compare conditions between off-site and on-site stations. The primary species investigated were invertebrate species of actual or potential commercial and sport concern, including Dungeness crab, rock crab, pandalid shrimp, and sea cucumbers, although more than 50 other species were also identified and documented. For the study area as a whole, Dungeness crab, rock crab, and Pandalid shrimp populations increased while sea cucumber abundance decreased. Several species demonstrated strong depth-dependent distributions. Within the A/K site boundaries, Dungeness crab, red rock crab, sea cucumbers and recreationally harvested pandalid shrimp species were scarce, as they had been in 1987. Most species showed no population declines, either on- or off-site. The only invertebrates increasing in population on-site were the graceful rock crab and two species of pink shrimp, none of which are harvested recreationally or present in large enough numbers for a commercial fishery.
SPAWN TIMING VARIATION OF COASTAL CUTTHROAT TROUT IN SOUTH PUGET SOUND
Riley Freeman, James P. Losee and Steve Boessow
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
This study represents one component of a multidisciplinary project to develop stock assessment methods for Coastal Cutthroat Trout. Biologists from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Squaxin Island Tribe and volunteers collected data to examine the abiotic factors that influence spawn timing in South Puget Sound. Measurements of temperature and flow were compared to redd counts of Coastal Cutthroat Trout from tributaries of Eld, Totten and Skookum inlets. Flow was an important predictor of spawn timing in that cutthroat trout rarely spawned during periods when flows exceeded 100 cfs. Improving our understanding of the influence of abiotic variables on spawn timing could prove to be a useful tool for monitoring Coastal Cutthroat Trout now and in the face of a changing climate.
EELGRASS (ZOSTERA MARINA L.) RESTORATION IN SOUTH PUGET SOUND
Jeff Gaeckle, Nearshore Habitat Program, Aquatics Division, Washington State Department of Natural Resources
John Vavrinec, Marine Sciences Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Jason Stutes, Hart Crowser
As part of its efforts to recover ecosystem health in Puget Sound, the Puget Sound Partnership adopted a 2020 target to increase eelgrass (Zostera marina) by 20%. Based on an estimated 22,000 ha of eelgrass in region, the recovery goal is equivalent to 4,400 ha; an area slightly larger than the eelgrass meadow in Padilla Bay, the largest bed on the west coast of the contiguous US. Eelgrass restoration will provide a multitude of benefits, ranging from habitat for species to ameliorating climate change. One aspect of the eelgrass recovery strategy is to prioritize suitable sites for strategic transplants that will expedite natural recruitment and restore ecological processes. Suitable sites not only need to promote seagrass productivity but also be resilient to a changing environment. We used the output from an eelgrass transplant suitability model for Puget Sound to optimize site selection and increase transplant success. Between 2013 and 2016, we test transplanted eelgrass at 20 sites in South Sound. Initial transplant success varied from 0-130% when sites were evaluated 6-12 months after transplanting. Three sites, Zangle Cove, Joemma State Park and Delano Beach, were selected for large scale eelgrass transplantation in 2015 and 2016. Monitoring transplanted eelgrass is scheduled along with an emphasis on the success of specific donor stocks, the recovery of donor sites, and the effects seagrass restoration has on water chemistry. The restoration process faced challenges ranging from permitting issues to anthropogenic and environmental stressors. However, issue specific solutions and adaptive management enabled the restoration process to progress towards achieving objectives within the region.
EYES ON THE BEACH, BOOTS IN THE MUD: CITIZEN SCIENCE MONITORING FOR EUROPEAN GREEN CRAB ALONG INLAND WASHINGTON SHORES
Emily W. Grason, University of Washington, Department of Biology
Jeff Adams, Washington Sea Grant P. Sean McDonald, University of Washington, School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences
Kate Litle, Washington Sea Grant
Due to a recent range expansion, the European green crab (Carcinus maenas) presents an invasion risk to Washington’s inland shorelines. The global invader established in coastal embayments like Willapa Bay in 1998, but numbers subsequently dwindled due to poor local reproductive success. In 2012, Canadian wildlife officials discovered a population of green crab in Sooke Inlet near Victoria, British Columbia, well within the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The proximity to numerous isolated soft-sediment habitats ideal for green crabs, combined with the recent record-breaking ENSO indices, provides an ideal opportunity for continued range expansion. Early detection of invaders is the most cost-effective way to reduce the economic and ecological harm to native habitats. To maximize monitoring coverage, the WSG Crab Team launched a citizen science monitoring effort in 2015. Currently more than 100 trained volunteers monitor 25 sites monthly (April – September) as the Crab Team’s “boots in the mud”. In addition to performing multimodal searches for the target species, volunteers collect information on pocket estuary and salt marsh habitats and organisms, building a continuous dataset for these isolated and understudied environments in the Salish Sea. These data will also inform our understanding of the regional and local impacts of the crab should it arrive, by allowing comparisons before and after arrival, as well as comparisons to control sites not invaded by green crabs. While we have targeted sites we think are the best habitat for green crabs, it is possible they could arrive somewhere unexpected. Therefore, monitoring is supplemented with outreach across online, print, radio, and social media to inform the public about the threat of invasion, and how to act on it. We anticipate that through both broad outreach education and targeted rigorous surveying, we maximize the chances of detecting green crabs at the earliest stages of invasion, when managers can be most effective at trapping down a population before it establishes.
GOING FROM WHAT’S HAPPENING TO WHAT’S CAUSING PROBLEMS: USING CHANGES IN STREAM HEALTH INDICES TO FOCUS DIAGNOSTIC MONITORING EFFORTS
Scott Groce, Pierce County Public Works, Surface Water Management
Pierce County Surface Water Management (SWM) uses monthly water quality sampling and annual macroinvertebrate sampling to develop water quality index (WQI) and benthic index of biotic integrity (BIBI) scores at 38 streams throughout four major watersheds in Pierce County, WA. These scores are combined to create an annual grade for each stream, an average grade for the watershed, an average grade for the entire County, and are published in an annual Surface Water Health Report Card. While these tools are useful for summarizing complex ecological interactions and changes to a non-technical audience, they do not supply the necessary level of analytical detail for decision making by water quality scientists. However, if the constituent parameters of each index score are examined, specific parameters and critical time periods for further monitoring can be identified. This approach allowed SWM to identify two streams in the Nisqually River watershed (Ohop Creek and Lynch Creek) for diagnostic monitoring, with the goal being to isolate stream segments for future management actions.
GREENING REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS: A MODEL FOR LANDOWNER ENGAGEMENT THROUGH EDUCATING BROKERS & APPRAISERS
Erica Guttman, WSU Extension
Bob Simmons, WSU Extension
Monica Grewal, Native Plant Salvage Foundation
Real estate brokers, appraisers, and developers are an essential audience for bridging communication with new landowners throughout the Salish Sea watershed. The majority of these professionals share concerns about protecting water quality, ensuring the health of the Salish Sea for recreation and economic vitality, and preventing activities that lead to anthropogenic-caused landslides, flooding and other disasters. Since 1998, WSU Extension has managed a real estate school focused on “green” topics to engage real estate professionals in these issues critical to their clients and our region’s water resources. This program was initially focused in South Puget Sound, however it has expanded soundwide. In recent years, our focus has centered on the topics of Green Stormwater Infrastructure and Understanding Shoreline Processes/Stewardship Activities. Benefits of targeting this audience include: brokers may be or often work with small- to large-scale developers and can influence how development occurs; the sale/transfer of land is often at the nexus of re-development; educated brokers can inform their clientele on options for preventing pollution and undertaking stewardship practices; and appraisers need to incorporate proper valuation of mature vegetation, proper water management, and Green Stormwater Infrastructure for systemic change to occur. This poster will highlight the model of classroom and field-based learning that has been successful; what the audiences value as part of the workshop package; feedback about successes and shortcomings; openness and skepticism of this audience vis à vis environmental issues, including climate change; and assessments of short- and mid-term impacts to increase awareness, understanding and acceptance for green stewardship practices for both stormwater management and living with and on shoreline/bluff properties.
*LARVAL EXCHANGE AMONG OLYMPIA OYSTER POPULATIONS IN PUGET SOUND
Megan Hintz (1,2), Axton Bullock (2), Jennifer Gonzaga (2), Brian Allen (3), Marco Hatch (4), Henry Carson (5), Brent Vadopalas (1), Brian Rusk (6), Bonnie J Becker (2)
(1) School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle
(2) School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington, Tacoma
(3) Puget Sound Restoration Fund
(4) Salish Sea Research Center, Northwest Indian College, Bellingham
(5) Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
(6) Geology Department, Western Washington University, Bellingham
Oysters play an important role in the health of the ecosystem; they are ecosystem engineers providing biogenic habitat, increasing biodiversity, and filtering local waters. Native Olympia oysters (Ostrea lurida) have failed to recover after both overexploitation and environmental degradation caused them to go commercially extinct in the South Sound in the middle of the 20th century. To help promote their recovery Washington State agencies, Tribal Nations and environmental groups have made it a priority to restore O. lurida, a Washington Species of concern. One limitation to restoration of this species is our understanding of O. lurida temporal and spatial distribution, in part because little is known about their dispersing larvae. Successful restoration efforts must promote population connectivity, the exchange of individuals among geographically separated subpopulations. Therefore, larval dispersal data are key for successful management of declining marine species. O. lurida brood their larvae for 10-12 days before releasing free swimming planktonic larvae into the water, which then settle to the benthos after 2-8 weeks. In this study, three stages of reproduction were monitored–reproductive adults, planktonic larvae, and recruits–in two populations of O. lurida in Puget Sound–Fidalgo Bay, an enhanced subpopulation, and Dyes Inlet, one of the few remaining natural oyster beds. We will determine the natal origins of early recruits using chemical signatures measured with the use of laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). Brooded larvae will be used to determine chemical signatures of parent subpopulations, which will then be compared to the signatures in the larval shells of settlers to determine source populations. During field collection in summer 2015, we observed a low level of reproduction throughout the season, although peaks were still observed in all reproductive stages and could be tracked through time. The results of this study will directly influence management efforts to restore O. lurida. Specifically, resource managers will be able to identify both source and sink populations of larvae, and determine where habitat enhancement would be more beneficial.
NATURAL YARD CARE EDUCATION PROGRAM EVALUATION
Susan McCleary, City of Olympia
Jessica Branom-Zwick, Cascadia Consulting Group
The poster describes the evaluation and comparison of two unique natural yard care outreach program models. Both programs were designed to improve local water quality and protect Puget Sound by reducing pollutants associated with conventional residential yard care practices. Evaluation was used to assess whether the programs yielded a significant difference in knowledge, understanding and adoption of selected practices. Moreover, it was used to identify demographic factors that influence the target audience’s participation in the programs, motivators for behavior change, and barriers to behavior change. The evaluation also identified whether participants shared natural yard and lawn care information with neighbors, including promoting the education programs. Finally, evaluation was used to develop recommendations on how to improve and/or streamline natural yard and lawn programs for future implementation. The program evaluation was designed to assess each individual program in a statistically valid manner. Participants completed surveys before and after participating in the programs. Surveys were also administered to randomly selected non-participating households. Findings suggest programs that provide more intensive outreach with technical assistance such as site visits and demonstration workshops are typically expected to result in more action and behavior change per participant. Although intensive programs often reach a smaller number of total participants due to higher costs. Additionally, incentives that directly support behavior change are typically expected to increase behavior change. More research is needed to determine whether specific incentives create lasting behavior change.
SALINITY AND TEMPERATURE IN SOUTH SOUND, BUDD INLET, DRIVE JELLYFISH MASS AGGREGATIONS; AS WATER QUALITY PARAMETERS RESPOND TO REDUCED FRESHWATER INPUTS IN PUGET SOUND IN A FUTURE CLIMATE SCENARIO, JELLYFISH MASS AGGREGATIONS WILL INCREASE.
Mattie Michalek, Washington Conservation Corps/Washington State Department of Ecology
Christopher Krembs, Washington State Department of Ecology
Skip Albertson, Washington State Department of Ecology
Jennifer Purcell, Private Consultant
South Puget Sound produces very high jellyfish (Aurelia labiata) biomass that form large mass aggregations so big that they can be seen from small aircraft. Such smacks can easily exceed hundreds of millions of individuals with extremely high biomass. Jellyfish tend to follow a seasonal cycle, being the most abundant during the late summer and early fall. Jellyfish biomasses reached record levels in Budd Inlet and the other finger inlets of South Puget Sound in the fall of 2014 and summer of 2015 coinciding with ‘the Blob’ of unusually warm water and the drought. These jellyfish aggregations provided a glimpse into predicted climate scenarios for this region. This qualitative assessment analyzes abiotic driving factors of jellyfish aggregations and investigates the timing and inter-annual variability of jellyfish biomass in Budd Inlet.
SQUAXIN NATURAL RESOURCES TRIBAL YOUTH INTERNSHIP
Candace Penn, The Squaxin Island Natural Resources/Education Department and the Shelton School District- CHOICE High School.
The 2016 Summer Internship Program with the Squaxin Island Natural Resources Department (SINRD) was a complete success. Interns in this program not only collected raw data to be used by the SINRD to determine both broad census counts and longitudinal data on shellfish, they also participated in Squaxin Island Tribal cultural events that linked the condition and current use of shellfish populations with historic use and populations as well as learning about the historic and current importance and dependency by regional native people upon natural systems. Interns were required to participate as full time employees of the department working under the direct supervision of a full time ecologist and part time certificated educator. Work in this program was often times exhaustive, requiring interns to not only learn new skills in lecture/presentation/online format but also work directly in the field with professional biologists and ecologists under frequently difficult and grueling circumstances as is typical of biological field work. This work required extreme persistence and attention to detail as the data collected was to be used by the SINRD to determine health of local shellfish populations and determine possible impact of global warming upon future shellfish populations. Interns found themselves collecting data deep in seashore mud, riparian streams of varying depth and debris, and varying weather conditions. Interns were also required to document their learning and demonstrate understanding of biological concepts and the scientific method through strict following of pre-established biological sampling protocols and present findings through a power point presentation to SINRD upper level management and complete requirements for the award of high school credit which included obtaining a Washington State Boaters Education Safety Certificate, submitting a polished resume, working a minimum of 160 hours for SINRD, achieving a passing score on the SINRD Employee Annual Evaluation, and completing a written self-evaluation.
*RECOVERY PLANNING FOR DESCHUTES RIVER COHO SALMON
Paul Schlenger, Chris Berger, Lauren Odle; Confluence Environmental Company
Deschutes River coho salmon are an important natural and cultural resource for the Squaxin Island Tribe. The returns of these salmon have markedly declined since the 1980s, and two of the three brood lines are considered to be “virtually extinct” by WDFW, putting the Deschutes coho population at risk of overall extinction. On behalf of the Tribe, Confluence Environmental Company has completed a Comprehensive Biological Recovery Plan for coho salmon in the Deschutes watershed to prioritize restoration opportunities throughout the basin. It builds upon a 2008 coho salmon population modeling effort; provides a synthesis of the available information on watershed use by, and population trends of, coho salmon; evaluates habitat conditions and limiting factors; and identifies the type and magnitude of restoration needed to recover coho populations. A Shiraz population simulation model was used to iteratively analyze the effect on population change from variable combinations of habitat parameter improvements, over seven river reaches. The model evaluated linkages between restoration actions and the life stages that benefit from them, resulting in a strategy that focuses on five main elements in the watershed: reduce fine sediments, increase habitat complexity, reduce high water temperatures, improve instream flows, and improve marine survival. The analysis indicates that a stable self-sustained population of coho salmon is not possible until substantial restoration is in place, but this would only stabilize the strongest cohort of coho. Recovery of the two weaker brood lines is expected to require more than just freshwater restoration. Based on the Shiraz modeling, complete restoration of all three brood lines will also require improved marine survival through actions such as the restoration of the Deschutes estuary, reduction of marine mammal predation during the early marine outmigration, and reduced harvest pressure.
WOLF HAVEN’S ROLL IN ENDANGERED SPECIES RECOVERY
Anne Schuster, Wolf Haven International
Wolf Haven International is a sanctuary for captive born wolves. In addition to wolf conservation, Wolf Haven has 36 acres of rare mounded prairie habitat which we have been working to conserve and restore with many South Sound prairie partners since 2001. Wolf Haven’s prairie has been a reintroduction site for the threatened Mazama pocket gopher (Thomomys mazama) and golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta) as well as a future reintroduction site for the endangered Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha taylori). Wolf Haven is a small prairie, but due to its close proximity to larger prairies it is an important stepping stone for endangered species recovery. Healthy prairies in South Puget Sound perform important ecosystem services, like cleaning stormwater runoff before it seeps into our aquifer. Beyond prairie species, Wolf Haven also participates in two federally run Species Survival Plans for critically endangered red wolves (Canis rufus) and Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi). Before recovery began there were 14 red wolves and 7 Mexican gray wolves left, now there are about 100 of each in captive breeding programs across the United States and Mexico, and in the wild there are around 50 red wolves living in North Carolina and around 100 Mexican gray wolves living in New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico. Many of the Mexican gray wolves living in the wild are descendants of individuals who live and have lived at Wolf Haven. Reintroductions of wolves, in places like Yellowstone, may have a dramatic affect on waterways and entire ecosystems through trophic cascades. Wolf Haven strives to conserve rare and endangered wildlife and ecosystems, both on and off prairies, no matter how controversial some species may be.
VIBRIO PARAHAEMOLYTICUS LEVELS IN SOUTH PUGET SOUND OYSTERS
Steven Sweet, Laura Johnson, Gina Olson and Clara Hard, Washington State Department of Health
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) monitors and manages oyster harvest for the risk of Vibrio parahaemolyticus illnesses in Washington State. DOH collects oysters for V. parahaemolyticus weekly monitoring every summer and tests them for thermolabile hemolysin (tlh), thermostable direct hemolysin (tdh), and thermostable direct hemolysin-related (trh). Total V. parahaemolyticus is tracked by the tlh value, while the potentially pathogenic strains are identified by the tdh and trh markers. A statistical comparison of these markers indicates a direct relationship and these markers will be examined in comparison with the associated environmental parameters that are collected with the samples. An analysis of south Puget Sound sites will be compared and contrasted with reported V. parahaemolyticus illnesses from specific growing areas.
*THE PROMISES & PITFALLS OF GREEN ROOFS
R. Anna Thurston, The Evergreen State College – MES cohort ’16
While installation of green roofs (GR; and related green infrastructure) clearly offer benefits that aim to mitigate climate change and provide benefits to humans and the environment, GR failures (and the rationale that create them) have gone uncounted and generally unacknowledged. Because failure details are missing from scientific and industry literature, my thesis and poster address the operational definition and a preliminary assessment of failure rates and types among GR installations as commonly promoted by a number of American cities. Insight from the answers would enhance public policy relative to GR incentives, and: allow future measurement of GR technology progress; a more informed assessment of risk and rate of return among GR consumers; information from owner feed-backs highlighting GR system weaknesses that undermining design, installation and maintenance of GR systems; and a far more effective pursuit of climate change adaptations. From an international survey of GR practitioners, I have obtained an operational definition of GR failure and developed a preliminary failure continuum. The definition and continuum inform a second survey that targets a stratified random sampling of owners and/or maintenance providers managing commercial and institutional green roofs installed in the cities of Chicago, and Portland. The objective outcome is a measure of GR failure rates from the perspectives of “catastrophic”, and “underlying” failure types. The range of qualitative perspectives anticipated may challenge whether or not GR consumers and municipal GR incentive programs are sufficiently meeting the environmental program objectives and other desired intentions. I anticipate a low “catastrophic” failure rate in installed GRs, but a far more nuanced and significantly higher rate of “underlying” GR failures on the continuum to be developed.
OH MY OYSTERS: DETECTING AN ANOMALOUS RECRUITMENT EVENT OF PACIFIC OYSTERS USING CITIZEN SCIENCE.
Stena Troyer, Harbor WildWatch, Gig Harbor, WA
Michael Behrens, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA
Citizen science can be an important way to engage the public to develop awareness and collect ecological data. Long term monitoring via citizen science may not be hypothesis-driven; however, it may be an important tool in detecting changes in ecological communities. In summer 2013, Harbor WildWatch (HWW) initiated a beach monitoring program at sites in Carr Inlet and the Tacoma Narrows. The program collects data on species abundance and distribution, substrate type and beach slope twice a year at six locations. Data are collected by HWW staff, volunteers, and local high school and college students. Prior to 2015, the only oyster species found at the sites was the Olympia oyster (Ostrea lurida). Starting in winter 2015, we observed juveniles of the non-native Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) and by 2016 they were encountered at 3 of the 6 sites. This settlement event was correlated in time with increasing water temperature associated with the NE Pacific “blob” and the beginning of the 2015-2016 ENSO event. The Pacific oysters have continued to survive and reach densities of up to 66 per square meter. Pacific oysters are most common at the +5 ft. and +1 ft. tidal heights. This is at a higher tidal height than the distribution of the native oyster potentially reducing competitive interactions between the two species. Continued monitoring will allow us to assess the survival of both native and non-native oyster species to better understand their interactions at beaches previously without non-native oysters.