Nearshore Habitat Eelgrass Stressor-Response Project
The purpose of the Eelgrass Stressor-Response Project is to identify and understand stressors that cause eelgrass ( Zostera marina ) loss in greater Puget Sound . This work complements the Nearshore Habitat Program's annual eelgrass monitoring program by studying causes of observed eelgrass losses. The rationale for the program is that stressors must be understood before management actions can be formulated.
The program has focused primarily on shallow embayments in the San Juan Archipelago. This web site provides research results and summarizes future research plans.
Project Reports and Information
The following PDF documents are large and may take sometime to download. If you have problems downloading these documents you may email Peter Dowty, or call at 360-902-1719.
Two key areas of concern for eelgrass loss have been identified through eelgrass monitoring by the Submerged Vegetation Monitoring Program (SVMP):
- Persistent patterns in the estimates of eelgrass area for sites in Hood Canal indicate that Hood Canal as a whole is an area of concern for eelgrass decline.
- Westcott Bay and several other embayments in the San Juan Islands have experienced localized but very sharp declines.
We developed an intensive, collaborative study to investigate causes of the observed declines, with initial focus on Westcott Bay on San Juan Island. Recent findings suggest that the loss of eelgrass in Westcott Bay is not due to reduced light availability underwater. This has been a common cause of eelgrass loss in other regions due to reduced water clarity.
Contining work focuses on other potential stressors and different field approaches to isolate these stressors.