The effects of wood pollution on sediment sulfide levels and eelgrass germination rates

Chesley Ekelem1 & Sylvia Yang2

1 Integrative Biology Department, Harvard College, Cambridge, MA
2 Shannon Point Marine Center, Western Washington University, Anacortes, WA

Issue addressed:

Sawmills in the Pacific Northwest (USA) released sawdust and bark into the marine environment in the 1800-1900's, and the wood still remains in the sediment today3. Wood waste from sawmills enriches marine sediments with organic material, which boosts bacterial reduction of sulfate and results in the production of a toxic metabolite, hydrogen sulfide (H2S)4.

Sediment porewater H2S can decrease the growth and survival of eelgrass ( Zostera marina)5, an economically and ecologically important species in Puget Sound. Furthermore, eelgrass recruitment via seed germination may vary due to donor population6. Determining the effects of wood enrichment on porewater H2S concentrations and eelgrass seed germination could inform efforts to restore eelgrass in areas polluted by wood.

Our questions:

1) How does wood pollution affect pore-water sulfide levels?
2) How does wood pollution affect eelgrass germination rates?

Page Updated 11.22.2017