Treda Grayson

Responses of Benthic Macrofauna to Environmental Stressors: A Synthesis of Chesapeake Bay Data

Dissertation Summary

My dissertation examines the response patterns of benthic macroinvertebrates to stressors in Chesapeake Bay.  Estuaries, such as the Chesapeake Bay, are important and valuable aquatic systems that support a vast array of ecosystem functions and services for plants, animals and humans.  They are complex and dynamic systems that are subjected to a variety of environmental (abiotic and biotic) and human-induced stressors, which compromise the biological integrity of the estuary.  Benthic macroinvertebrates are widely used and accepted as reliable indicators of the estuarine biological environment, as they are integrators of biological and physical events in the sediments and the overlying water column.

Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States, and is of ecological, historical, economic and cultural importance.  The pressures of increased population density, land development, and agricultural practices have resulted in a threatened Bay ecosystem that is in need of ongoing restoration and protection.  There are a number of monitoring programs, research institutions, non-profit organizations, and local, state and federal agencies in the Chesapeake region that are dedicated and focused on collecting, monitoring, analyzing and developing management practices and tools to preserve and protect the Bay.  My dissertation work draws on decades of previously collected data in the Chesapeake Bay region.  It provides a sound mechanism to evaluate actual and potential stressors to benthic communities, using datasets at hand, rather than relying on obtaining more data. This is especially of importance in times of dwindling funds for monitoring and research programs.  For my research, I am utilizing the multitude of physical, chemical and biological Chesapeake Bay data to determine general stressor-response patterns and environmental tolerance groups that can be used to provide resource managers with useful information to better manage, protect, and restore Chesapeake Bay.


Treda Grayson is a doctoral student in Environmental Science and Public Policy at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.  Her concentration is in biological sciences, specifically benthic ecology. Treda’s interest in Marine Science and her desire to be a scientist was sparked by the moments she spent as a child fishing, crabbing, and boating in and on the water.

That interest and desire motivated Treda to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree with honors in Marine Science with Biology and German minors, from Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina. After finishing college, she began working as an Environmental Protection Specialist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters in Washington, D.C.  She provided technical support to states, tribes, and other entities to develop and adopt biological, nutrient and aquatic life criteria for water quality. While working at the EPA, Treda obtained a Master of Science degree in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Johns Hopkins University.  Currently, she leads the National Coastal Condition Assessment program in the Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds, which is a designed to assess the condition of the nation’s coastal resources.

Treda is a Senior Fellow in the 2009 Mid-Atlantic Regional Network class of the Environmental Leadership Program, as well as the 2014-2016 President of the Atlantic Estuarine Research Society.  She loves traveling, reading, and spending time with family, friends and loved ones.