PROPS: Physiological Response of Oysters in Puget Sound

Posted in News, Research

The health of the Puget Sound ecosystem is significantly threatened by repercussions of human activity, including toxins, low dissolved oxygen, pharmaceuticals, pathogens, and invasive species. Here we propose to examine the direct and indirect effects of such threats on a significant player in the Puget Sound ecosystem – the Pacific oyster. We do not have a full understanding of the cumulative impacts of these stressors nor the long-term implications. Given the size of the system, it is certain that there are additional threats yet to be identified. The stature of the system also makes it difficult for the public to realize human’s role in the declining health of our waterways.

The specific research objectives of this programs are to

1) Implement use of biomarkers of environmental threats and assess associated effects on shellfish
2) Determine the indirect biological effects of local environmental threats
3) Characterize epigenetic impacts on shellfish

This information will aid resource managers, policy makers, and scientists in assessing remediation efforts, restoration activities, and allow for informed predictions of risks associated with changes in habitat quality.  Furthermore, the scalable and repeatable approaches will lay the foundation for measuring the health of our coastal system and can be easily integrated into long-term biological indices.