The Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) developed conceptual peer reviewed models of habitats within Washington State’s marine spatial planning study area that represent important ecological components, physical drivers, and human activities within each habitat. The habitats include the large coastal estuaries of Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay, rocky shores, sandy beaches, kelp forests, seafloor, and the pelagic zone.
The estuary model below depicts the important ecological components and interactions of Washington’s large coastal estuaries. In addition, the models show which physical drivers are most important and the human activities that are most prevalent in each of the habitats. These models form the foundation for selecting indicators that can be used to assess the status and trends of components within each habitat type.
The team also selected indicators to represent the important components, drivers, and activities of each habitat. They developed tables that describe important attributes and evaluated the usefulness of various indicators for each of the components, drivers, and activities. The indicators can now be used to measure and track the status and trends of components that we care about within each of the habitat types. The status and trends of these indicators form the basis of assessing how ecological components are doing relative to the oceanographic or estuarine environment and the human activities occurring within the system.