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21 posts in Research

Estuaries function better with natural patterns of water flow and suspended organic matter

A new study looks at clams and mussels in five estuaries in Puget Sound, and finds that alterations to river flow, landscape connectivity among adjacent habitat types, or the type and supply of suspended organic matter (detritus), can disrupt food webs at the scale of entire landscapes. Clams and mussels, which cannot move to track food sources, are particularly affected by climate variability, levee systems, water diversion from estuaries, and dwindling availability of detritus due to loss of tidal marsh wetlands. 

Methods for measuring change when marine tidal turbines are implemented

A new paper in Ecological Indicators by Hannah Linder and SAFS professor John Horne examines a wide range of statistical methods for detecting and forecasting change from monitoring studies. They found that different classes of models are needed to detect change, and to forecast the future effects of interventions such as building marine tidal turbines. 

The most valuable salmon fishery in the world could become a mine

A front page investigative CNN article outlines how the Environmental Protection Agency reversed a decision to protect the most valuable salmon fishery in the world, giving the go-ahead for the Pebble Mine, one hour after the head met with the CEO of the Pebble Mine partnership. SAFS professor Thomas Quinn comments in the report: “This is the jewel in the crown of America’s fisheries resources – these salmon. 

Fisheries can alter the timing of spawning and migration in fish

Fishing can substantially alter when fish migrate and when they breed, says a new review in Fish and Fisheries by SAFS student Michael Tillotson and faculty member Thomas Quinn. For example, fishing closures may increase fishing on late breeders, resulting in a greater proportion of early breeders in the population. Such changes can exacerbate the effects of climate-driven changes in the timing of migration and breeding. 

Rethinking the scientific career

Faculty member Julian Olden and others in ChronicleVitae urge scientists to see their careers as “an adventure on a long and winding path” that involves interacting with nature and making their science relevant. Instead of focusing on publishing small units of science, we should be embracing the spirit of discovery and striving for societal impact. 

More than 10,000 seabirds die from harmful algal blooms, recorded by citizen scientists

Citizen scientists in a program run by Julia Parrish provided data about two mass die-offs of seabirds on the outer coast of Washington state, which is the largest mass death ever to be definitively ascribed to harmful algal blooms. The new report was authored by SAFS postdoc Timothy Jones, with other SAFS contributions from Julia Parrish, André Punt, and Jennifer Lang, as part of the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST; a citizen science program at the University of Washington). 

Puget Sound Salmon on Drugs

The Seattle Times Reports “Puget Sound salmon are on drugs — Prozac, Advil, Benadryl, Lipitor, even cocaine. Those drugs and dozens of others are showing up in the tissues of juvenile chinook, researchers have found, thanks to tainted wastewater discharge.”
A research team of NOAA and UW scientists, including SAFS’ professor Dr. Graham Young, have documented levels of over 80 “chemicals of emerging concern”, pharmaceuticals and personal care products in estuarine waters and in juvenile chinook salmon and Pacific staghorn sculpin at sites in south Puget Sound impacted by discharge from wastewater treatment plants. 

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