Ecosystem Condition Monitoring

The goal of Ecosystem Condition, or Status and Trends, monitoring is to track the current and long term condition of the river and estuary.  This type of monitoring generally occurs in relatively undisturbed or pristine environments.   Our Ecosystem Condition monitoring can help distinguish between natural variability in the ecosystem versus changes that may be occurring related to human activity.  The Estuary Partnership’s focus on estuary and river habitat, toxic contaminants, and habitat classification provide vital information to scientists and resource managers to make the best decisions possible with the best science available. 

Our Ecosystem Condition monitoring falls into two general categories: 

Habitat Monitoring

Toxics Monitoring

Both components have have been funded through the Bonneville Power Administration.  Habitat Monitoring has occurred annually since 2005, and includes monitoring of several key metrics at fixed and rotating sites throughout the lower river and estuary.  Sites are systematically selected, based on specific river Reaches defined in the Columbia River Estuarine Ecosystem Classification.  Habitat Monitoring has revealed key information about the Lower Columbia's tidally influenced wetlands, including juvenile fish use, vegetation growth patterns, channel formation, water quality, and sedimentation. 

In addition to our ongoing Habitat Monitoring, we have also conducted intensive, one time monitoring of similar metrics at several undisturbed wetland sites throughout the lower Columbia.  This Reference Site Study occurred from 2007 - 2010, and was intended to provide information about how these wetlands function in their natural, undisturbed state, and what type of recovery might be expected at neighboring Habitat Restoration sites.  The program was funded by Bonneville Power Administration, through our Habitat Restoration program.

In 2004, the Estuary Partnership began a 3 year study of toxic contaminants in the lower Columbia.  In conjunction with our partners, we sampled for contaminants in water, sediment, and juvenile Chinook salmon. The effort provided a comprehensive picture of how toxics (particularly bioaccumulative ones), are moving through the water and food chain, and ultimately affecting juvenile salmon.

Read more about our Status and Trends Habitat Monitoring program

Read more about our Status and Trends Toxics Monitoring program

Read more about our Habitat Restoration Reference Site Study