Species and food webs

Puget Sound hosts more than 100 species of seabirds, 200 species of fish, 15 marine mammal species, hundreds of plant species, and thousands of invertebrate species (Armstrong et al. 1976; Thom et al. 1976; Canning and Shipman 1995). Visit our species page for a full list. The array of species found in Puget Sound reflects its high productivity, the wide diversity of habitats present, and its unique geographic location at the interface of “northern” and “southern” ranges for many species. These species do not exist in isolation, but rather interact with each other in a variety of ways: they eat and are eaten by each other; they serve as vectors of disease or toxins; they are parasitic; and they compete with each other for food, habitat, and other resources.

There is no single food web in the Puget Sound ecosystem. Instead there are many marine food webs that reside in the soft-bottomed nearshore, in rocky-bottomed areas, in habitats dominated by eelgrass or kelp, and in pelagic areas as well. Similarly, there are terrestrial and freshwater aquatic food webs that occur in alpine habitats, mid-elevation and lowland forests, and rivers, lakes, and streams. The food webs in each of these areas are not discrete and independent, but rather are highly interconnected by organic matter sources, physical proximity, exchange of water, and organisms that change habitats during the course of their life cycles.

Food webs also change both in time and space due to variation in stratification, prey availability, organic-matter source availability and quality, and other local and regional conditions. In addition, some species occupy multiple places or play multiple roles in the food web depending on their life stage, size, habitats they occupy, and time of year.

Sources:

Sound Science: Synthesizing ecological and socioeconomic information about the Puget Sound ecosystem. Published 2007. Used by permission.

http://blog.pugetsoundinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/SoundScience2007.pdf

 

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Sternaspis affinis
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Young adult herring from Puget Sound.Margaret Siple/University of Washington
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