Custom Species Lists

 Department of Ecology - State of WashingtonThe over 1800 taxa of benthic infaunal invertebrates listed below were collected as part of the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Marine Sediment Monitoring Program (MSMP).  This program, initiated in 1989, is one component of the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program, a collaborative effort dedicated to monitoring environmental conditions in Puget Sound.

Benthic infaunal invertebrates, often referred to as benthos, are tiny animals, including worms, clams, snails, shrimp, crabs, brittle stars, and many others, that live in the sand and mud at the bottom of Puget Sound.  Benthos are an essential link in the Puget Sound food chain, and changes in their community structure and functional groups are an indicator of sediment quality and overall environmental condition. Ecology’s MSMP samples and characterizes the benthos in eight Puget Sound regions and six urban bays on an annual rotational basis, and tracks changes over time that may be due to man-made (for example, toxic chemicals) or natural environmental stressors. Ecology and the Puget Sound Partnership recognize the benthos as one of many Vital Sign Indicators for Puget Sound. 

To study the benthos, Ecology relies on taxonomic specialists to identify each animal collected to the lowest possible phylogenetic classification, usually the genus and species level.  To preserve this knowledge, and ensure standardized taxonomy for the future of the benthos program, Ecology staff have recently started working with regional taxonomists to create a “voucher sheet”, or a taxonomic description compiled from the scientific literature, for each of our over 1800 taxa. Voucher sheets and taxonomy workshop notes describing Puget Sound benthos that have been generated to date are available in Ecology’s Taxonomic Guides to Benthic Invertebrates of Puget Sound. Also available will be species information drawn from the Encyclopedia of Life.

You can learn more about the benthos in Ecology’s blog.  Browse keywords Eyes Under Puget Sound and benthic invertebrates.  See also Flickr photos.

For further information, contact Maggie Dutch, Washington State Department of Ecology,, 360-407-6021.

Download Ecology’s Master Species List in Excel format

Benthic invertebrates of Puget Sound

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