Ecosystems

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Link to Headwater Sites Link to Lowland Watershed Sites Link to Floodplain Sites Link to Delta Sites Link to Embayment Sites Link to Beach Sites Link to Rocky Headland Sites

A special feature of this wiki are Site Pages. A "site" is a particular piece of the ecosystem based on current regional planning models at a scale appropriate for management. All other locations are called "places" and can be about anything from an oceanic sub-basin to a city (Read more about Sites and Places...)

Our system includes seven different types of sites, each shaped by distinct processes, and potentially providing a distinct set of ecosystem services. We list them here from the mountains to the sea:



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Headwaters

Headwaters are the steep foothill and mountain valleys, where precipitation falls as snow, and forestry is the primary land use. Landslides are a common distrubance.


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Lowland Watersheds

Lowland watersheds contain the streams that drain the low foothills and the glacial plateau. These landform are shaped by glaciers and most precipitation falls as rain. Many lowland watersheds are urbanizing rapidly.


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Floodplains

Floodplains form where the larger rivers and streams create and rework valley bottoms filled with their own alluviumgravel, sand and finer materials moved and sorted by rivers and streams. These are the best places for agriculture, the core of Chinook salmon habitat, and where flood risk is highest.


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River Deltas

Deltas form where large river floodplains enter marine waters. Tidal flows create fluctuating water levels. Most of our deltas have been drained for agriculture, and lie below sea level protected by dikes.


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Embayments

Embayments are those protected places along the shoreline where wind waves are muted by aspect or spits, and collect muddy sediments, sometimes forming salt marsh, often at the mouths of streams. Around 800 large embayments have been found on historic maps (Simenstad et al 2011).


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Beaches

Beaches form where sedimentparticles of clay, silt, sand, gravel, or cobble, transported by water, are called sediment. from eroding shorelines are pushed alongshore by waves, creating bluffs, spits and lagoons. Beaches have been valued for residential property since time immemmorial, provide access to the wealth of the sea, but are vulnerable to storms. 744 beach systems have been identified in Puget Sound (Cereghino et al 2012).


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Headlands

Rocky headlands emerge where bedrock is shallow along shoreines, along Juan de Fuca, San Juan Islands, and along the Seattle Fault. These dry stable shorelines contain pockets of beach. Our Bull Kelp forests are concentrated in these systems.


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Places

We use place pages to define all other places. Humans define place using both natural and imaginary boundaries, as well as the extent of their settlements and development. Our places often contain a mixture of ecosystem sites, and define the focus of our management and governance.

River Basin Watersheds and Oceanographic Sub-Basins

Puget Sound salmon recovery and related management planning (centered around Puget Sound Lead Entities) often uses large river basins as a basis for planning and coordination. The following place pages use the category "basin", and correspond with those watersheds:


This useful designation provides less clarity in coastal areas, where some analysts switch to some version of Puget Sound Sub-basins:

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Draft representation of overlaping puget sound spatial analysis including work by the Nearshore Project, Watershed Characterization and Floodplains by Design

Maps and Plans

We are currently storing images that describe ecosystem sites, in the ecosystem map category, displayed below. A future project will be to integrate this wiki with mapping systems that show ecosystem sites, like the Nearshore Portal