- Scientists at EPA’s National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Western Ecology Division (WED) have been studying seafloor (benthic) habitats in Yaquina estuary for several years. Those studies were conducted as parts of several research projects, including: effects of contaminated sediments on benthic invertebrates, effects of nutrient enrichment on estuarine ecosystems, effects of habitat loss on estuarine resources, and environmental monitoring and assessment of coastal environments. Each project required different data, although some data sets supported multiple projects. Since the mid-1990’s, most data collected by WED were spatially referenced so that the data could be incorporated into geographic information system databases. Sampling sites were often randomly-distributed within the estuary, although the selection of study sites for any given study was determined by the experimental design of the study. Types of benthic habitat data that WED has collected or compiled for Yaquina estuary include: aerial photographs of the estuary at low tide (most as color infrared images) orthorectified and mosaicked into maps of the estuary; bathymetry based on hydroacoustic data; sediment properties, such as grain size; distribution and abundance of seagrass, green macroalgae, and benthic invertebrates; and maps of seagrass and burrowing shrimp populations. Current and former staff at WED who have contributed to the collection of benthic habitat data include Bruce Boese, Faith Cole, Ted DeWitt, Steve Ferraro, Walter Frick, Jim Kaldy, Mary Kentula, Janet Lamberson, Henry Lee, Walt Nelson, David Specht, David Young, Rick Swartz (retired), John Chapman (OSU), Tony D’Andrea (OSU), Scott Larned (NIWA), and Brad Robbins (Mote Marine Lab).