Species and their habitats are a foundation of the ecosystem framework, but there is currently no generally agreed upon habitat classification system for Puget Sound. The closest thing for its marine and nearshore environments may be Dr. Megan Dethier’s 1990 resource A Marine and Estuarine Habitat Classification System for Washington State.
Much of the work for that document was done in the general vicinity of Puget Sound, and it has been an influential resource for major habitat mapping efforts in the region, such as Shorezone.
Last year, PSI’s Encyclopedia of Puget Sound commissioned Dr. Dethier to update some of the diagnostic species and “common associates”—the species you are likely to find in a given habitat—from this resource. Encyclopedia of Puget Sound topic editor Si Simenstad also contributed new information for area fish distributions.
These species and their descriptions will be linked to habitat maps, and we have started adding Dethier’s individual habitat descriptions to pages within the Encyclopedia. As far as we know, it’s the first time these classifications have been placed into a relational database. Stay tuned as we develop these sections. [Editor’s note: Habitat descriptions are now available.]