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Ecosystems

Ensuring the Nation's Economic and Environmental Future

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One mission of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is to conduct research and monitoring on freshwater, terrestrial, and marine ecosystems and the fish and wildlife within them. The USGS Washington Water Science Center (WAWSC) supports this mission through our data collection network and our hydrologic investigations program. Some of these activities are funded entirely by USGS, although most are funded through partnerships between the USGS, other federal agencies, state and local governments, and tribes.

The WAWSC's current data collection network includes more than 350 sites in Washington for acquiring information on surface water, groundwater, water quality, and precipitation. Many of these data are used directly to support ecosystem related issues, such as sustaining instream flow requirements for fish, controlling nutrient loads to Puget Sound, or improving ambient water-quality in streams and lakes through the total maximum daily load (TMDL) process.

Most current or recent ecosystem studies conducted by the WAWSC focus on sediment, nutrients, or contaminants in freshwater and marine ecosystems. A number of studies are focused on the fluvial geomorphology of the large, steep rivers draining our mountains. WAWSC scientists are gaining a better understanding of how these rivers move and change over time by studying river hydraulics and sediment transport from the mountains to the ocean; the interaction between hydraulics, sediment, large wood, and fish habitat in rivers; and how river flooding worsens or improves over time under changing climate, land use, and river management strategies. The results of these studies, which often include computerized hydraulic models of river systems, are used to evaluate different management options to reduce flooding and improve aquatic habitat with consideration to a river's flood-carrying capacity and trends in sedimentation.

Another set of WAWSC ecosystem studies is focused on nutrient dynamics in aquatic ecosystems. The results from our regional assessment of phosphate and nitrogen sources and transport using the USGS SPARROW model (SPAtially Referenced Regression On Watershed attributes) will provide resource managers with information necessary to efficiently and effectively manage phosphorous in the Yakima Basin, and to more effectively implement Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs). The results from our evaluation of the state of the science in three technical areas concerning nitrogen in the Puget Sound ecosystem (shellfish aquaculture and nutrient dynamics, sediment interactions in marine waters, and nitrogen attenuation in watersheds) will help sharpen tools available for reducing human point and nonpoint sources through future management actions.

Beyond those areas of focus, current and recent WAWSC ecosystem studies concern a variety of topics including monitoring stormwater effects with test organism responses at the molecular level using DNA transcriptional responses derived from microarray techniques, trace-metal contamination and related ecosystem effects in Lake Roosevelt, and physical and biological processes that affect nearshore ecosystems in Puget Sound (USGS Coastal Habitats in Puget Sound project).

Current and Recent Ecosystems Studies Conducted by the Washington Water Science Center
Lower Bonaparte Springs
Investigation of springs in the Lower Bonaparte Creek basin, Okanogan County, Washington - Completed FY2009
Chehalis Reservation Water Resources
Water Resources of the Chehalis Indian Reservation - Completed FY1974
Colville No Name Creek Study
Water Resources of No Name Creek Valley, Colville Indian Reservation - Completed FY1978

Water Resources of the Colville Indian Reservation - Completed FY1973
Geomorphic Mapping, Dosewallips River
High Resolution Geomorphic Mapping of the Dosewallips River Using Remotely Sensed Data: Method Development - Completed FY2004
Elwha River
Transport of Suspended Sediment and Its Effect on Aquatic Habitat in the Elwha River, Olympic National Park - Completed FY2005

Development of a Continuous, Real-Time Suspended-Sediment Monitoring System and Its Evaluation in the Elwha River, Washington - Completed FY2005

Evaluation of Current Ecological Conditions with Respect to Nutrient Dynamics in the Elwha River, Olympic National Park - Completed FY1999
Elwha River and Morse Creek Watershed
Water Resources Inventory of the Elwha River and Morse Creek Watershed - Completed FY2000
Lower Elwha Reservation Water Resources
Water Resources of the Lower Elwha Indian Reservation - Completed FY1979
Hoh Reservation Water Resources
Water Resources of the Hoh Indian Reservation - Completed FY1985
Lummi Indian Reservation
Ground-Water Resources of the Lummi Indian Reservation, Phase II - Completed FY1996

Water Resources of the Lummi Indian Reservation - Completed FY1974
Muckleshoot Reservation Water Resources
Water Resources of the Colville Indian Reservation - Completed FY1983

Water Resources of the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation - Completed FY1973
Nisqually Reservation Water Resources
Investigation of the Availability of Ground Water in the Vicinity of the Nisqually Tribal Fish Hatchery - Completed FY1983

Water Resources of Areas Contiguous to the Nisqually Indian Reservation - Completed FY1978

Water Resources of the Nisqually Indian Reservation - Completed FY1973
Nooksack River Ground-Water Bacteria
Transport and Fate of Bacterial and Nitrate Contamination in Ground Water of the Lower Nooksack River Basin - Completed FY2005
South Fork Nooksack River Basin GW/SW Interactions and Processes
Characterization of Groundwater Processes and Groundwater/Surface-water Interactions of the South Fork Nooksack River Basin, Whatcom County, Washington - Competed FY2015
Pacific Northwest Tribal Water Resources
Pacific Northwest Tribal Water Resources Technical Assessment - Completed FY2005
Port Gamble Reservation Water Resources
Water Resources of the Port Gamble Indian Reservation - Completed FY1979
Port Madison Reservation Water Resources
Water Resources Of The Port Madison Indian Reservation, Washington - Completed FY1979
Coast Salish Canoe Journey
Coast Salish - U.S. Geological Survey Tribal Water Quality in the Puget Sound - Competed FY2011
Puyallup Indian Reservation
Trends in Streamflow in the Lower Puyallup River Basin, and Comparisons to Instream Flows and Water Use - Completed FY2004

Water Resources of the Lower Puyallup River Basin - Completed FY1987

Puyallup river Food Capacity Study - Completed FY1985

Puyallup River Basin
Puyallup River TMDL Monitoring - Completed FY2002
Quileute Reservation Water Resources
Water resources of the Quileute Indian Reservation and Quillayute River Basin - Completed FY1983
Quinault Groundwater
Quinault Groundwater Monitoring
Quinault Indian Reservation
Channel and Floodplain Processes, Quinault Indian Reservation - Completed FY2002

Watershed Analysis of the Quinault River Basin - Completed FY1999

Investigation of the Availability of Improved Source of Ground-Water Supply For Taholah, Quinault Indian Reservation - Completed FY1985
Lake Roosevelt-Upper Columbia River
Interdisciplinary investigation of the occurrence and potential impacts of slag on Lake Roosevelt white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus)

The Effects of Trace Elements on Water Quality and Biological Health in the Lake Roosevelt National Recreational Area: Columbia River - Completed FY2006

Occurrence And Distribution of Trace Elements In Air Along Lake Roosevelt: A Pilot Study - Completed FY2006

Assessment of Trace-Element Concentrations in Sediment Cores and Rates of Sediment Accumulation in Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake - Completed FY2004

Occurrence and Distribution of Trace Elements in Lake Beach and Bank Sediments - Completed FY2003

Development of a Sediment Quality Program for the Upper Columbia River and Lake Roosevelt - Completed FY1999

Organochlorine Compounds and Mercury in Fish Tissue from Lake Roosevelt and the Upper Columbia River - Completed FY1999

Bioaccumulation of Mercury in Walleye, FDR Lake, Washington - Completed FY1997

Toxics-Related Water Quality of Lake Roosevelt, Washington - Completed FY1995
Salmon River Watershed Analysis
Salmon River Watershed Analysis - Completed FY2003
Sauk River Sediment
Sauk River Suspended-Sediment Skagit and Snohomish Counties, Washington
Shoalwater Bay Water Resources
Water Resources of the Shoalwater Indian Reservation - Completed FY1983
Skokomish Indian Water Resources
Water Resources of the Skokomish Indian Reservation - Completed FY1973
Spokane Reservation Water Resources
Long-Term Monitoring of the Quality of Groundwater at the Midnite Mine, Stevens County, Washington - Completed FY1998

Midnite Mine Groundwater Quality - Completed FY1996

Midnite Mine discharge and Water Quality Data - Completed FY1995

Midnite Uranium Mine Drainage - Completed FY1989

Midnite Mine Water-Quality Study - Completed FY1984

Groundwater Study, Spokane/Kalispel - Completed FY1998

Sherwood Mine Slope Stability - Completed FY1983
Squaxin Reservation Water Resource
Groundwater Reources of the Squaxin Indian Reservation - Completed FY1975
Stillaguamish Reservation Water Resources
Stillaguamish Instream SW-GW - Completed FY1986
Swinomish Water Resources
Water Resources of the Swinomish River Basin - Completed FY1999

Hydrology of the Swinomish Indian Reservation, Northwestern Washington - Completed FY1998

Water Resources of the Swinomish Indian Reservation - Completed FY1979
Tulalip Reservation Water Resources
Tulalip Groundwater - Completed FY1983
Water Resources of the Tulalip Indian Reservation
Water Resources of the Tulalip Indian Reservation, Snohomish County - Completed FY2004

Water Resources of the Tulalip Indian Reservation - Completed FY1979
Makah Reservation Water Resources
Water Resources of the Makah Indian Reservation - Completed FY1980

Salmon propagation in Ozette Lake - Completed FY1978
NWIFC Water Assessment
Tribal Assessment of Water Resources in Western Washington - Completed FY2011
Surface-Water Records
Collection of Basic Surface-Water Records, Washington

Real-Time Hydrologic Data by Independent GOES Telemetry System in Washington - Completed FY1991

Compilation of Miscellaneous Streamflow Measurements in Washington - Completed FY1989

Streamflow Statistics and Drainage Basin Characteristics for the Southwestern and Eastern Regions, Washington - Completed FY1985

Low-Flow Analysis of Selected Streams In Washington - Completed FY1985

Streamflow Estimates for Small Streams in Washington - Completed FY1982

Flood Profiles - Completed FY1981

Re-evaluation of the surface-water gaging station network - Completed FY1978
Yakima Reservation Water Resources
Groundwater Quality, Toppenish Basin - Completed FY1993

Water Resources of the Yakima Indian Reservation - Completed FY1983

Comparison of Regulated and Unregulated Streamflow for the Yakima River at Union Gap, Washington - Completed FY1982

Yakima Indian Reservation QW - Completed FY1975

Water-Quality Investigation of the Yakima Indian Reservation - Completed FY1975
Yakima River Temperature Model
Development of Water-Temperature Models for Main-Stem Reaches of the Yakima and Naches Rivers, Washington - Completed FY2007

Streamflow Temperature Model of the Yakima River - Completed FY1982

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