Puget Sound is the second largest estuary in the United States. Its unique geology, climate, and nutrient-rich waters produce and sustain biologically productive coastal habitats. These same natural characteristics also contribute to a high quality of life that has led to a significant growth in human population and associated development. This population growth, and the accompanying rural and urban development, has played a role in degrading Puget Sound ecosystems, including declines in fish and wildlife populations, water-quality issues, and loss and degradation of coastal habitats.
In response to these ecosystem declines and the potential for strategic large-scale preservation and restoration, a coalition of local, State, and Federal agencies, including the private sector, Tribes, and local universities, initiated the Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project (PSNERP). The Nearshore Science Team (NST) of PSNERP, along with the U.S. Geological Survey, developed a Science Strategy and Research Plan (Gelfenbaum and others, 2006) to help guide science activities associated with nearshore ecosystem restoration. Implementation of the Research Plan includes a call for State and Federal agencies to direct scientific studies to support PSNERP information needs. In addition, the overall Science Strategy promotes greater communication with decision makers and dissemination of scientific results to the broader scientific community.
On November 14-16, 2006, the U.S. Geological Survey sponsored an interdisciplinary Coastal Habitats in Puget Sound (CHIPS) Research Workshop at Fort Worden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington. The main goals of the workshop were to coordinate, integrate, and link research on the nearshore of Puget Sound. Presented research focused on three themes: (1) restoration of large river deltas; (2) recovery of the nearshore ecosystem of the Elwha River; and (3) effects of urbanization on nearshore ecosystems. The more than 35 presentations covered a wide range of ongoing inter-disciplinary research, including studies of sediment geochemistry of aquatic environments, sediment budgets, tracking fish pathways, expansion of invasive forams, beach and nearshore sedimentary environments, using influence diagrams as a decision support tool, forage fish, submarine groundwater, and much, much more.
The primary focus within these themes was on developing information on the physical, chemical, and biological processes, as well as the human dimensions, associated with the restoration or rehabilitation of the nearshore environment. The workshop was an excellent opportunity for USGS scientists and collaborators who are working on Puget Sound coastal habitats to present their preliminary findings, discuss upcoming research, and to identify opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration.
A compilation of extended abstracts from workshop participants, this proceedings volume serves as a useful reference for attendees of the workshop and for those unable to attend. Taken together, the abstracts in this report provide a view of the current status of USGS multidisciplinary research on Puget Sound coastal habitats.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Extended Abstracts from the Coastal Habitats in Puget Sound (CHIPS) 2006 Workshop