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A look at future ocean conditions and how they could affect coastal communities

Scientists tell us that climate change is probably increasing the frequency of extreme events, such as hurricanes, droughts and wildfires. As time goes on, we might expect even more dramatic shifts in the ecosystem, as some species move to more suitable locations and others die out. The Pacific Fishery Management Council, which oversees fishing along …

Warm-water ‘blobs’ significantly diminish salmon, other fish populations, study says

It’s no secret that salmon and other Northwest fish populations are expected to shrink as a result of a warming Pacific Ocean. But a new study suggests that the resulting decline in commercial fishing by 2050 could be twice as great as previously estimated by climate scientists. The higher estimates of population declines were calculated …

Virus related to measles could push Puget Sound orcas to extinction, study says

Researchers studying the killer whales that frequent Puget Sound are growing increasingly concerned that a dangerous virus or other disease-causing organism could spread through the population and hasten extinction of these critically endangered southern resident orcas. Without dramatic changes to their environment, extinction is already considered the likely future for the southern residents, as they …

A school of herring.Jacob Bøtter/Flickr

Young herring ‘go with the older fish’ a key finding in Ocean Modeling Forum’s efforts

Puget Sound Institute lead ecosystem ecologist Tessa Francis was quoted in a recent article in UW News. From UWT News Service: “Young herring ‘go with the older fish’ a key finding in Ocean Modeling Forum’s efforts,” by Michelle Ma, UW News, May 29, 2019, http://www.washington.edu/news/2019/05/29/young-herring-go-with-the-older-fish-a-key-finding-in-ocean-modeling-forums-efforts/. Tessa Francis is both the lead ecosystem ecologist at the …

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 Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) 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 commercial …

Detecting organic contaminants in highway runoff and fish tissue

This much we know: Stormwater is nasty stuff. The state of Washington has called it one of the leading threats to the Puget Sound ecosystem — it can kill salmon within hours and it contributes to all kinds of health problems for species ranging from orcas to humans. What we don’t know is exactly what’s …