Freshwater habitat

Freshwater habitat in the Puget Sound region consists of rivers, marshes, streams, lakes and ponds that do not have any saltwater input. Many species depend on these freshwater resources, including salmon, salamanders, frogs, and beavers. The freshwater habitat is also intricately linked with land use and the terrestrial environment. Sediment runoff, logging, and flood control measures all influence the patterns of freshwater flow and habitat quality.

Source:

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

http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/research/shared/sound_science/documents/sound_science_finalweb.pdf

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WDFW biologists sorting and measuring fish from PSEMP's index sites in the Duwamish River and near the Seattle Waterfront. Photo: WDFW
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Salmon smolts. Photo courtesy of Governor's Salmon Recovery Office
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The University of Washington Tacoma has spurred sustainable urban development including re-purposing of historic buildings, new housing, a museum and retail district, multi-use trails, and light rail transit. Photo courtesy: UW Tacoma
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Fir Island Farms habitat restoration monitoring in Skagit County. Project provides rearing habitat for young threatened Chinook salmon along with other wildlife. Copyright: Bob Friel
3/30/2017

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Benthic invertebrates range in size from those easily seen with the naked eye to those that cannot be spotted without the use of a microscope. Photo: Christopher Dunagan
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Healthy stream, healthy bugs

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Puget Sound Marine Waters 2015 report cover
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A steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in the Cascade River, WA, 2014. Photo: © Morgan Bond http://www.morganhbond.com/
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Key hypotheses include bottom-up and top-down processes and additional factors such as toxics, disease, and competition.  Graphic: Michael Schmidt, Salish Sea Marine Survival Project
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The Tufted Puffin is among 125 species of concern found in the Salish Sea. Photo: Peter Hodum.
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The growing number of species of concern in the Salish Sea suggests ecosystem decay is outpacing recovery

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Black Scoter (Melanitta negra), one of seven new birds added to a Salish Sea-wide list of species of concern. Photo courtesy of USGS.
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Algal bloom. Photo: Eutrophication&Hypoxia (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/48722974@N07/5120831456
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2/1/2016

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Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Photo: Eric Engbretson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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Are diseases playing a role in salmon decline?

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Birch Bay. Photo by Jeff Rice
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State of Knowledge: Climate Change in Puget Sound

A 2015 report from the University of Washington provides the most comprehensive assessment to date of the expected impacts of climate change on the Puget Sound region.

Woodard Creek Basin water resource protection study report cover
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Guiding growth-healthy watersheds: Woodard Creek Basin water resource protection study

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McLane Creek Basin water resource protection study report cover
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10/5/2015

Persistent contaminants in Puget Sound: Overcoming a toxic legacy

The Lower Duwamish Waterway in Puget Sound was designated a Superfund cleanup site in 2001. Its legacy of contamination predates World War II and the waterway continues to pollute Puget Sound through stormwater runoff.

2015 Puget Sound Fact Book report cover
10/2/2015

2015 Puget Sound Fact Book

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Puget Sound portion of a 1798 chart showing "part of the coast of N.W. America : with the tracks of His Majesty's sloop Discovery and armed tender Chatham / commanded by George Vancouver, Esqr. and prepared under his immediate inspection by Lieut. Joseph Baker." Credit: Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
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Puget Sound: a uniquely diverse and productive estuary

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2014 state of salmon in watersheds report cover
9/13/2015

2014 state of salmon in watersheds executive summary

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Appendix 5. Map of Skykomish/Tye River Control Locations 2014
8/21/2015

Protection and enhancement of riparian buffers in WRIA 7 through restoration and stewardship

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Hansen Creek Alluvial Fan and Wetland restoration project (Poster #1)
7/28/2015

Hansen Creek alluvial fan and wetland restoration project

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Figure 1.  General Conceptual Model of Puget Sound Recovery (page 2).
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Biennial Science Work Plan for 2011-2013

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2012 State of Salmon in Watersheds Executive Summary report cover
7/21/2015

2012 state of salmon in watersheds executive summary

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Sound Science 2007 report cover image
7/21/2015

Sound Science 2007

Sound Science: Synthesizing Ecological and Socio-economic Information about the Puget Sound Ecosystem summarizes what we know about the greater Puget Sound ecosystem and what we think could happen in the future given present trajectories and trends.

State of the Sound 1986 report cover image
7/20/2015

1986 State of the Sound

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State of the Sound 1988 report cover image
7/20/2015

1988 State of the Sound

The State of the Sound report is prepared every two years by the Puget Sound Water Quality Authority to provide a comprehensive, easily understandable summary of the current conditions of water quality and related resources in Puget Sound.

2009 State of the Sound report cover image; Puget Sound Partnership
7/20/2015

2009 State of the Sound

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1990 Puget Sound Update report cover page
7/20/2015

1990 Puget Sound Update

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1991 Puget Sound Update report cover page
7/19/2015

1991 Puget Sound Update

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Puget Sound's Health 1998 report cover page
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Puget Sound's Health 1998

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Puget Sound's Health 2000 report cover page
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Puget Sound's Health 2000

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Puget Sound's Health 2002

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2011 SSEC abstract book cover
7/7/2015

2011 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

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The 2012/2013 Action Agenda for Puget Sound cover page
7/4/2015

The 2012/2013 Action Agenda for Puget Sound

The Puget Sound Action Agenda lays out the work needed to protect and restore Puget Sound into the future. It is intended to drive investment and action. The 2012 Action Agenda is the result of over a year of work with state and federal agencies, tribal governments, local governments, representatives of the business and environmental caucuses, and other interested partners. It builds on the first Action Agenda, created in 2008, and progress since then.

The 2014/2015 Action Agenda for Puget Sound cover page
6/23/2015

The 2014/2015 Action Agenda for Puget Sound

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Juvenile coho salmon. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
5/28/2015

Spatial and temporal patterns in smolt survival of wild and hatchery coho salmon in the Salish Sea

Scientists say low marine survival rates threaten Puget Sound coho salmon populations. A 2015 article in the journal Marine and Coastal Fisheries reports that wild cohos in the Salish Sea had higher smolt survival rates over a 30 year period than hatchery coho salmon. Smolt survival in the Strait of Georgia during that time declined faster than it did in Puget Sound. 

Sample map of “Year of Emergence”, depicting where and when there is projected to be noticeable differences in number of days per year with daily maximum temperature exceeding 90°F (32.2°C) compared to 1950-1999, for a moderate rate of climate change, high emissions scenario and high management sensitivity, according to the BCSD5 climate data source.
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Time of emergence of climate change signals in the Puget Sound Basin

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An example of a search query for climate impacts in King County, WA
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Online resource identifies 'time of emergence' for Puget Sound climate impacts

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Book cover for The Salish Sea: Jewel of the Pacific Northwest
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New book focuses on the natural history of the Salish Sea

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3/9/2015

Framework for prioritizing monitoring of CECs in the Pacific Northwest

The Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program (PSEMP), along with partners from the US EPA Columbia River Program and USGS Oregon Water Science Center, have developed a framework for prioritizing monitoring of Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) in the Pacific Northwest.

Report cover photo by Victor Mesny.
1/29/2015

Climate change vulnerability and adaptation in the North Cascades Region, Washington

A 2014 report by the North Cascadia Adaptation Partnership identifies climate change issues relevant to resource management in the North Cascades, and recommends solutions that will facilitate the transition of the diverse ecosystems of this region into a warmer climate.

Alaska Airlines 737 taking off from Sea-Tac Airport with Mt Rainier and Central Terminal in background. Photo: Port of Seattle by Don Wilson
1/23/2015

Airport offers a glimpse at tightening stormwater regulations

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12/17/2014

Development of a stormwater retrofit plan for Water Resources Inventory Area (WRIA) 9: Comprehensive needs and cost assessment and extrapolation to Puget Sound

A 2014 King County report projects the capital and maintenance costs of the stormwater treatment facilities that would be needed, within WRIA 9 and the Puget Sound region, to fully comply with the Clean Water Act. 

Stillaguamish River (North Fork) valley
12/17/2014

Influence of climate and land cover on river discharge in the North Fork Stillaguamish River

A 2014 report prepared by the Stillaguamish Tribe analyzes potential causes of changes in peak and low flows in the Stillaguamish River basin. 

Southern resident orcas. Photo: NOAA http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/cetaceans/killerwhale_photos.htm
10/28/2014

Seeking higher calories for Puget Sound killer whales

A 2014 paper decribes how monitoring the energy density of key Pacific salmon species could affect the recovery of northern and southern killer whales through fisheries management.

report cover photo
10/24/2014

Monitoring and adaptive management of the Nisqually Delta after tidal marsh restoration: Restoring ecosystem function for salmon

This 2009 report by the Nisqually Tribe establishes key measures of restoration development, habitat processes, and Chinook salmon response for the largest delta restoration project in the Pacific Northwest.

Stormwater flowing into catch basin carries contaminants to our waterways. Photo: Ben McLeod (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/benmcleod/420158390
10/7/2014

Citizens now the leading cause of toxics in Puget Sound

New research presented at the 2014 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference shows that some of the greatest dangers to Puget Sound marine life come from our common, everyday activities. These pervasive sources of pollution are so woven into our lives that they are almost invisible to us, but it’s becoming impossible to ignore their effects.

Nisqually Reserve Fish Sampling March 2012. Photo: Michael Grilliot, DNR (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/wastatednr/6834386824
9/9/2014

No salmon left behind: The importance of early growth and freshwater restoration

The growth and survival of young salmon in streams, river deltas and floodplains are seen as crucial pieces of the salmon recovery puzzle. In part two of this two-part series, researchers at the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Seattle say the complexities of the salmon life cycle require new coordination among scientists.

Western grebe. Public Pier, Blaine, WA. Photo: Andrew Reding https://www.flickr.com/photos/seaotter/10298390254
7/22/2014

Declines in marine birds trouble scientists

Why did all the grebes leave? Where did they go? And what does their disappearance say about the health of the Salish Sea? Seasonal declines among some regional bird species could hold important clues to the overall health of the ecosystem.

Coastal Management journal cover
7/1/2014

Special issue of Coastal Management focuses on social sciences in Puget Sound recovery

The July 2014 issue of the journal Coastal Management focuses on the role of social sciences in Puget Sound ecosystem recovery. Articles range from political ecology to the development of human wellbeing indicators and directly address current Puget Sound restoration efforts. Guest editors include Encyclopedia of Puget Sound topic editor Kelly Biedenweg and Puget Sound Science Panel co-chair Katharine Wellman. The journal is co-edited by Patrick Christie of our editorial board. Extended abstracts of the articles will be available on these pages in coming weeks.

Amphipholis squamata (Phylum Echinodermata, Class Ophiuroidea) – This is a brittle star, commonly known as the “brooding snake star”. (Sandra Weakland, Brooke McIntyre photo)
6/17/2014

Benthic Invertebrates of Puget Sound

A list of over 1800 benthic infaunal invertebrates is now available on the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. The list was prepared as part of the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Marine Sediment Monitoring Program (MSMP).  This program, initiated in 1989, is one component of the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program, a collaborative effort dedicated to monitoring environmental conditions in Puget Sound. 

The Canary Rockfish is one of the 119 species listed in a new paper from the SeaDoc Society as "at risk." Photo by Tippy Jackson, courtesy of NOAA.
5/22/2014

Species of Concern within the Salish Sea nearly double between 2002 and 2013

Approximately every two years, the SeaDoc Society prepares a list of species of concern within the Salish Sea ecosystem. The following paper found 119 species at risk and was presented as part of the proceedings of the 2014 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference, April 30 – May 2, 2014, Seattle, Washington. 

5/21/2014

Regional monitoring of CECs in the Salish Sea

Several studies have been performed to determine the occurrence of selected Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) in the environment.

CECs include thousands of commonly used chemical compounds. Photo courtesy of EPA.
4/22/2014

Contaminants of emerging concern in the Salish Sea

Thousands of different compounds are produced and used as part of our daily lives.  Examples include pharmaceuticals (NSAIDs, birth control pills, etc), personal care products (sun screen agents, scents, preservatives, etc), food additives (artificial sweeteners) and compounds used in industrial and commercial applications (flame retardants, antibiotics, etc).  Advances in analytical methods have allowed the detection of many of these compounds in the environment.

Sockey salmon. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
4/10/2014

Measuring Socio-Cultural Values Associated with Salmon in the Quinault Indian Nation

A 2014 report describes a study of socio-cultural values associated with blueback salmon in the Quinault Indian Nation. The blueback salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) is a unique strain of sockeye that returns primarily to the Quinault river system.

Black Scoter (Melanitta nigra). Photo by Dave Menke, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
1/28/2014

Marine and terrestrial bird indicators for Puget Sound

A December 2013 report identifies marine and terrestrial bird species for use as indicators within the Puget Sound Partnership's "Vital Signs" for ecosystem health. 

Deepwater Horizon oil spill, 2010. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
1/20/2014

Making science useful in complex political and legal arenas: A case for frontloading science in anticipation of environmental changes to support natural resource laws and policies

Scientists argue that environmental disasters are inevitable and that it is just a matter of when and where they will occur. "Our coasts and oceans routinely experience significant environmental crises," writes Dr. Usha Varanasi, who makes a case for staying ahead of the curve and "frontloading the science." Her 2013 paper in the Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy proposes a new model for ecological disaster planning and response, in which baseline ecosystem data and syntheses are collected in advance of possible incidents. 
 
Projected declines in snow season in days for middle elevations (4,000 to 5,000 feet) in the Cascade mountains in Oregon and Washington. Graph courtesy of UW Climate Impacts Group.
1/17/2014

Climate change impacts and adaptations in Washington State: Technical summaries for decision makers

A December 2013 report by the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group projects wide reaching change for the Puget Sound ecosystem and the Pacific Northwest. Lead author: Encyclopedia of Puget Sound climate change topic editor Amy Snover.

Puget Sound Salmonid Habitat Monitoring Inventory and Recommendations
11/27/2013

Puget Sound salmonid habitat monitoring inventory and recommendations

An October 2013 report released by the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program inventories and assesses monitoring activities of Puget Sound's ESA-listed salmon and steelhead stocks and habitats.

Book cover for "Elwha: A River Reborn" by Lynda Mapes
11/20/2013

Puget Sound Voices: Exhibit traces Elwha restoration

The Encyclopedia of Puget Sound spoke with Seattle Times reporter Lynda Mapes about the exhibit Elwha: A River Reborn, which opened at the University of Washington Burke Museum on November 23rd. The exhibit is based on the book of the same title by Mapes and photographer Steve Ringman, and tells the story of the largest dam removal in U.S. history.  

Hood canal watershed boundaries; image courtesy of the Puget Sound Partnership
11/4/2013

Developing human wellbeing indicators for the Hood Canal watershed

The University of Washington Puget Sound Institute and Stanford University in collaboration with the Hood Canal Coordinating Council report on efforts to select human wellbeing indicators relevant to natural resource management in the Hood Canal watershed.
2013 State of the Sound report cover
11/1/2013

2013 State of the Sound

The 2013 State of the Sound is the Puget Sound Partnership’s third report to the Legislature on progress toward the recovery of Puget Sound by 2020. The document reports on both the status of the Partnership's recovery efforts and the status of a suite of ecosystem indicators.

Don Malins examines a fish during a research trip to the Duwamish estuary. Photo circa 1987. Photographer unknown.
7/30/2013

Toxics research that changed Puget Sound history

In the 1970s and 1980s, research from a division of NOAA's Montlake Lab suddenly and irreversibly changed the way scientists and the public viewed the health of Puget Sound. Their discoveries of industrial toxics in the region's sediment-dwelling fish led to the creation of two Superfund sites, and new approaches to ecosystem management across the Sound. The man at the forefront of this research was Dr. Donald Malins, featured here as part of the Puget Sound Voices series.

Western Grebe; image by mikebaird, courtesy of Encyclopedia of Life
6/26/2013

Paper: Citizen science reveals an extensive shift in the winter distribution of migratory Western Grebes

A June 19, 2013 paper in the journal PLoS ONE hypothesizes that regional declines in Western Grebe populations may be related to decreasing numbers of forage fish. Using citizen science data from 36 years of bird counts, researchers were able to look at population trends up and down the entire West Coast, finding that abundance of grebes decreased in the Salish Sea but increased in southern California. North American population declined by 52% overall.

Photograph of sediment-covered rocks in the lower Elwha River just upstream of the river mouth at the Strait of Juan de Fuca (June 20, 2012, Chris Magirl).
6/12/2013

Suspended-sediment concentrations during dam decommissioning in the Elwha River, Washington

This document was prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service. Download the entire report, or read the Introduction below. Portions of this document were originally published in June 2013 and were updated in February 2014. 

 
 
Vern Morgas (second from the left) and friends
5/31/2013

Puget Sound Voices: scuba pioneer

Vern Morgas remembers the early days of scuba diving in Puget Sound.

Drawing of Ocean Phase Chinook (king) salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
5/1/2013

NOAA report establishes Chinook monitoring framework

A new Chinook monitoring framework is designed to build cooperation among managers and policymakers working across the Puget Sound watershed. The report, prepared by an independent team of scientists and released by NOAA, includes a regionally specific, common classification system for Chinook habitats and key ecological attributes. 

4/22/2013

Puget Sound Chinook Salmon recovery: a framework for the development of monitoring and adaptive management plans

The Puget Sound Recovery Implementation Technical Team has released a draft of a NOAA technical memorandum describing frameworks for adaptive management and monitoring of Chinook salmon in Puget Sound. Download the report.

Female Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa). Photo by Kelly McAllister.
3/9/2013

Oregon Spotted Frog (Rana pretiosa)

This article was originally published by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of its annual report Threatened and Endangered Wildlife in Washington.

Pacific Treefrog; photo by James Bettaso, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
2/14/2013

Reports: Sauk-Suiattle amphibian surveys

The Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe conducts annual surveys of amphibian egg masses in the Reservation Slough wetland near the Sauk River.

Photo courtesy of NOAA
12/12/2012

Report: The effects of salmon fisheries on Southern Resident Killer Whales

A recent report by an independent science panel reviewed data on the effects of salmon fisheries on Southern Resident Killer Whale populations. The report was released on November 30, 2012 and was commissioned by NOAA Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta). Image courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
12/10/2012

Salmonids in Puget Sound

Fish in the family Salmonidae (salmon, trout, and charr) play potentially integral roles in the upland freshwater, nearshore and pelagic marine ecosystems and food webs of Puget Sound.

State of the Sound cover image; Puget Sound Partnership
11/10/2012

2012 State of the Sound

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.

State of Our Watersheds Report
10/2/2012

Report: 2012 State of Our Watersheds

The State of Our Watersheds Report is produced by the treaty tribes of western Washington, and seeks to present a comprehensive view of 20 watersheds in the Puget Sound region and the major issues that are impacting habitat.

Benthic macroinvertebrates are visible to the naked eye. Photo by Jo Wilhelm, courtesy King County.
6/25/2012

Featured resource: Puget Sound Stream Benthos

Puget Sound Stream Benthos is a data management project which monitors benthic invertebrates in streams and rivers in the Puget Sound region. The system is maintained and operated by King County and was the result of a joint effort between King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties.

Moss Lake, part of a bog wetland complex in Moss Lake Natural Area. Photo by Jennifer Vanderhoof.
6/18/2012

King County wetland habitat

Wetlands are recognized as critical ecosystems for biodiversity because of their disproportional use by wildlife and exceptional habitats for plants. It is their unique combination of shallow aquatic habitats and adjacent terrestrial conditions extending over a wide range of geomorphic and elevational settings that accounts for their ecological complexity and resultant richness. Because of their landscape setting, each wetland tends to exhibit unique habitat types and characteristic arrays of species adapted to idiosyncratic conditions, products of each wetland’s ecological and evolutionary history.

The Snoqualmie River. Photo copyright King County.
6/18/2012

King County rivers and streams

The diversity of streams in the county is a reflection of the diversity of its geography. From the small rivulets that begin high in the Cascade Mountains, to the brooks that flow gently across the lowlands, to the five major rivers of the county, there are over 4,800 kilometers (3,000 miles) of perennial streamcourses in King County.

A section of Griffin Creek. Photo copyright King County.
6/18/2012

King County riparian habitat

Riparian habitats are often characterized by particular trees and shrub species that line the banks of most rivers and streams in the lowlands and foothills of King County.

Canada geese, commonly seen in Lake Washington. Photo by Jennifer Vanderhoof.
6/18/2012

King County lake habitat

The natural biodiversity of the lakes of King County is strongly influenced by geography. The county runs from the Cascade mountain crest to the shores of Puget Sound, covering all three different Level III ecoregions (Puget Lowland, North Cascade, and Cascade). The geology, elevation, climate, and ecology in these three ecoregions are all different, and these differences in environmental factors determine the natural biodiversity of the lakes and also influence the risks, vulnerability, and impacts to that biodiversity.

Adult female Rana aurora during fall migration of 2005 in Puget Sound (Hayes, Marc 2005).
5/29/2012

Red-legged frogs in the Puget Sound watershed

The Northern Red-legged Frog is described here relative to its local behavior, habitat, threats and morphology.

5/2/2012

Marine fecal bacteria

Fecal bacteria are found in the feces of humans and other homeothermic animals. They are monitored in recreational waters because they are good indicators of harmful pathogens that are more difficult to measure. 

2/16/2012

Habitats of the Puget Sound watershed

"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.

The invasive tunicate Styela clava. Photo: WDFW
4/23/2011

Intentional and unintentional introduction of invasive and non-native species

Non-native species are those that do not naturally occur in an ecosystem. A non-native species is considered invasive when it is capable of aggressively establishing itself and causing environmental damage to an ecosystem. Plants, animals, and pathogens all can be invasive.