For more information on species & ecosystem science:

Wildlife Science

Fish Science

Habitat Science


Project Leads


Scott F. Pearson, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist and Westside Research Team Leader


Research Focus
Toxic contaminants in the Puget Sound Ecosystem

M.Sc., University of Hawaii, 1985
B.Sc., Southampton College of Long Island University

James E. West, M.Sc.
Senior Research Scientist, Team Leader for the Toxics in Biota component of the Puget Sound Assessment and Monitoring Program

Jim West joined WDFW in 1990.  His research for the past 17 years has focused on the threat of toxic contaminants in Puget Sound’s biota, how contaminants move through the food web, and the various aspects of organism life history and ecology that influence their susceptibility and sensitivity to pollutants.  He is also interested in developing ways to evaluate and track the toxics threat in Puget Sound, especially relative to other stressors in the ecosystem.

Jim’s career has been focused on marine ecological questions and field-oriented studies, beginning with his Master’s research in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands on food web interactions of piscivorous coral reef fishes.  During his 10 years in Hawaii he was also involved in studies on large pelagic predatory fishes, artificial reefs, stock enhancement of marine finfish, and shoreline-pond ecology.  Upon moving to Washington State in 1990, Jim spent three years studying early-life habitat associations of rockfishes (Sebastes spp) in Puget Sound. 

Current Research

  • Status and trends of toxics in the Puget Sound ecosystem
  • Toxic contaminants in phyto- and zooplankton in Puget Sound
  • Trophic transfer of toxics through the Puget Sound food web
  • Development of toxics-based indicators of ecosystem health to track the restoration of Puget Sound
  • Contaminants of emerging concern in Puget Sound biota

Selected Publications