This version of the Puget Sound Science Update provides an initial evaluation of habitat indicators, but is not intended to be comprehensive. Highlights include evaluation of marine and interface habitats (area and condition), as well as evaluation of a number of indicators of freshwater and terrestrial habitats condition. Many measures of habitat condition, especially those relating to water quality, were addressed under the PSP Water Quality goal.
Terrestrial habitat in Puget Sound varies greatly, from alpine and subalpine meadows and evergreen forests to valleys, floodplains, and prairie. However, these ecosystems are not clearly divided but blend smoothly into each other, linked by rivers and streams and the overlapping ranges of various species, determined by their tolerance of various environmental conditions. Various approaches exist for categorizing habitat types. Franklin and Dyrness developed a system in 1973 using dominant tree species as distinguishing features. In the Northwest, Sitka spruce dominates the lower elevations, moving towards Western hemlock and Douglas fir farther from sea level. Silver fir is more prevalent in the middle range, and mountain hemlock at higher elevations. Jones (1936) established the four Merriam’s Life Zones: Humid Transition, Canadian, Hudson, and Arctic-Alpine, which are defined by vegetation patterns, precipitation, and elevation.
Kruckeberg, Arthur. A Natural History of Puget Sound Country.1991. University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA.Displaying 1 - 15 of 15
Tim Essington1, Terrie Klinger2, Tish Conway-Cranos1,2, Joe Buchanan3, Andy James4, Jessi Kershner1, Ilon Logan2, and Jim West3
Audio recordings of the Mazama Pocket Gopher.
An audio recording of an early morning soundscape on Treasure Island in Puget Sound.
A paper in the May 2013 issue of The Condor [115(2):356–365, 2013] describes a repeatable and statistically robust approach to monitoring burrow nesting seabirds in the Salish Sea and the California Current that can be applied at single- or multi-island scales. The approach can be applied to both relatively common and important members of the seabird community like the Rhinoceros Auklet and to species of conservation concern like the Tufted Puffin.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife recently released a Draft Bat Conservation Plan for the 15 species of bats found in Washington State. All but four of these species occur within the greater Puget Sound watershed1, including:
The Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe conducts annual surveys of amphibian egg masses in the Reservation Slough wetland near the Sauk River.
The Puget Sound Partnership is charged with preparing a State of the Sound report every two years to inform the legislature and the public on the status of restoration efforts in Puget Sound.
Audio recordings of rhinoceros auklets on Protection Island.
Except for a very small area in the SE corner of the County, the subalpine and alpine habitats are located in the North Cascades Ecoregion that occupies the NE quarter of King County. This ecoregion is composed of steeply dissected valleys that rise precipitously to the subalpine (montane) forests, meadows, and parklands and, in a short distance more, to the alpine ridges and peaks of the Cascade Crest. The habitats that typify this high-elevation zone are among the most undisturbed habitats remaining in King County.
The history of land use in King County has produced a lowland and foothill landscape of bewildering variety. The once continuous forest of western hemlock, Douglas-fir, and redcedar has given way to a patchwork of lawns, parks, playgrounds, woodlots, greenbelts, old fields, croplands, tree farms, and remnant forests set amid a landscape of urban, suburban, rural, and commercial uses, all joined and, at the same time, separated by a vast network of roads and communication corridors. Despite this apparent richness and variety of patches, this landscape is clearly human-dominated, and habitats for native species have generally been marginalized by the scale and pace of land conversion and resource extraction. This pattern is not, of course, unusual in the history of development.
The Encyclopedia of Puget Sound, in cooperation with the USGS, has developed a list of terrestrial vertebrates occurring within the Puget Sound basin.
The following article was part of a pilot project at the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound in which University of Washington undergraduates working with the Burke Museum created localized accounts for two iconic amphibian species of the Puget Sound region: the Northern Red-legged Frog and the Pacific Chorus Frog. The Northern Red-legged Frog is described here relative to its local behavior, habitat, threats and morphology.
A botanist believes Coast Salish tribes once favored small islands in the San Juan archipelago for growing camas, an important food staple. Her studies may also show the vulnerability of these relic gardens to climate change as sea levels rise.
"Habitat" describes the physical and biological conditions that support a species or species assemblage and refers to conditions that exist at many scales. An oyster shell provides habitat for some algae and invertebrates, whereas cubic miles of sunlit water in Puget Sound comprise the habitat for many planktonic species.