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Riparian buffers are strips of trees and shrubs along stream sides. They filter nutrients and chemicals, shade and protect the stream, and provide habitat for birds, insects and fish. Photo courtesy of USDA.

Do financial incentives motivate farmers to conserve land?

Occasionally, this space includes reports and essays from guest writers on the subject of Puget Sound ecosystem recovery. Today’s guest blog is from Mollie Chapman, who received funding from the Puget Sound Institute in 2013 to study how financial incentives influence decisions by farmers to conserve ecologically important land. By Mollie Chapman Would you undertake …

A dying female coho salmon in the Lower Duwamish spotted by Puget Soundkeeper volunteers in October 2017. Photo: Kathy Peter

Chemicals from automobile tires suspected in coho deaths

Findings authored this month by University of Washington scientists at the Center for Urban Waters and their collaborators provide new insight into “urban runoff mortality syndrome” affecting Puget Sound coho.   By Jeff Rice Chemicals linked to automobile tires have been found in stormwater associated with the widespread deaths of coho salmon in Puget Sound. The …

Transient phenomena in ecology

Puget Sound Institute Lead Ecosystem Ecologist Tessa Francis is co-author of a paper in the journal Science this month. The article, “Transient phenomena in ecology” reviews current knowledge of transient dynamics within ecosystems. The authors say the paper shows a need to consider short-term ecological changes as well as long-term, and that “basing either management …

How herring learn from their elders

Young herring learn migration behavior by joining up with older fish, according to a new paper co-authored by Puget Sound Institute Lead Ecosystem Ecologist Tessa Francis. The paper, published this month in the ICES Journal of Marine Science, showed how this behavior leads to greater spatial variability in biomass, and that fishing could disproportionately affect …

Increasing adult mortality in Puget Sound herring may contribute to population declines

PSI’s lead ecosystem ecologist Tessa Francis is co-author of a 2017 paper linking increasing adult mortality of Puget Sound herring with regional population declines in the species. The authors report that natural mortality among herring four years and older has doubled in Puget Sound since 1973, suggesting a possible connection to declines at spawning sites …

PSI study links happiness to interactions with nature

Can nature make you happy? Science weighs in. A recent study by PSI social scientist Kelly Biedenweg found that Puget Sound residents reported being happier when they engaged with the natural environment. “We (in the Pacific Northwest) are pretty much the leaders in trying to understand how happiness and integration with the environment relate to each other,” Biedenweg …

Study of eelgrass shows populations steady across Puget Sound

Although eelgrass populations have declined in some parts of Puget Sound, overall numbers for the aquatic plant have remained steady ecosystem-wide, according to an analysis of 41 years of data from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The study, published in the Journal of Ecology, was co-authored by Puget Sound Institute lead ecosystem ecologist Tessa …