Science Inventory

Ecological periodic tables for US Pacific Northwest estuarine habitats

Citation:

FERRARO, S. P. AND F. A. COLE. Ecological periodic tables for US Pacific Northwest estuarine habitats. Presented at 20th Biennial Meeting of the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation, Portland, OR, November 01 - 05, 2009.

Impact/Purpose:

In his presidential address to the British Ecological Society, T.R.E. Southwood (1977; J Anim Ecol (1977), 46: 337-365) compared the situation in ecology to that in chemistry before the development of the periodic table when each fact, for example, the solubility or reactivity of a chemical element, had to be discovered independently and remembered in isolation.

Description:

In his presidential address to the British Ecological Society, T.R.E. Southwood (1977; J Anim Ecol (1977), 46: 337-365) compared the situation in ecology to that in chemistry before the development of the periodic table when each fact, for example, the solubility or reactivity of a chemical element, had to be discovered independently and remembered in isolation. Southwood reasoned that since ecological strategies evolve from the interaction of the habitat and organisms “a sort of ecological periodic table” might be constructed with a set of habitat characteristics, or “habitat templates,” as the organizing elements. We have observed that at the whole estuary scale, sediment features (sand; mud), the presence of ecosystem engineering species (eelgrass; dwarf eelgrass; mud shrimp; ghost shrimp; oysters), and bathymetry (intertidal; subtidal) are effective habitat classifiers for benthic macrofauna in the US Pacific Northwest. The presence/absence of eelgrass, mud shrimp and ghost shrimp are also effective habitat classifiers for intertidal nekton. These habitats are environmentally important because they account for a large proportion of the area of many US Pacific Northwest estuaries and they are alternative states subject to change as a function of the major natural and anthropogenic stressors: sedimentation, excess nutrients, invasive non-indigenous species, and sea level rise. Spatially and temporally repeating patterns of species richness, abundance, biomass, diversity, and Bray-Curtis similarity, indicate that these habitats act as templates (sensu Southwood (1977)) for benthic macrofaunal and nekton communities. The demonstration of recurring across-habitat patterns of benthic macrofauna and nekton indicates that these habitats may be used as organizing elements in ecological periodic tables and as surrogates for biological information needed to make better informed resource policy and management decisions.

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/ABSTRACT)
Product Published Date: 11/03/2009
Record Last Revised: 11/30/2009
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 208944

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LABORATORY

WESTERN ECOLOGY DIVISION

PACIFIC COASTAL ECOLOGY BRANCH