The removal of two long-standing dams on the Elwha River in Washington State will initiate a suite of biological and physical changes to the estuary at the river mouth. Estuaries represent a transition between freshwater and saltwater, have unique assemblages of plants and animals, and are a critical habitat for some salmon species as they migrate to the ocean. This chapter summarizes a number of studies in the Elwha River estuary, and focuses on physical and biological aspects of the ecosystem that are expected to change following dam removal. Included are data sets that summarize (1) water chemistry samples collected over a 16 month period; (2) beach seining activities targeted toward describing the fish assemblage of the estuary and migratory patterns of juvenile salmon; (3) descriptions of the aquatic and terrestrial invertebrate communities in the estuary, which represent an important food source for juvenile fish and are important water quality indicators; and (4) the diet and growth patterns of juvenile Chinook salmon in the lower Elwha River and estuary. These data represent baseline conditions of the ecosystem after nearly a century of changes due to the dams and will be useful in monitoring the changes to the river and estuary following dam removal.
|Title||Aquatic ecology of the Elwha River estuary prior to dam removal: Chapter 7 in <i>Coastal habitats of the Elwha River, Washington--biological and physical patterns and processes prior to dam removal</i>|
|Authors||Jeffrey J. Duda, Matthew M. Beirne, Kimberly Larsen, Dwight Barry, Karl Stenberg, Michael L. McHenry|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Scientific Investigations Report|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Western Fisheries Research Center|