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 candidate in Environmental Science and Public Policy at George Mason University. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Science from Coastal Carolina University and a Master of Science in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Johns Hopkins University. She has completed graduate coursework at Virginia Institute of Marine Science at the College of William and Mary.

Treda is an Environmental Protection Specialist on the Tribal Capacity Development Team in the American Indian Environmental Office (AIEO) at the US Environmental Protection Agency Headquarters. Her primary duty is to support tribes in developing environmental capacity through the administration of the Indian Environmental General Assistance. Before joining AIEO in 2015, she led the National Coastal Condition Assessment, as well as provided technical support to states, tribes, and other entities to develop and adopt biological, nutrient and aquatic life criteria for water quality standards development in the Office of Water. Additional key roles included providing monitoring and data analysis assistance in response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan

Treda is heavily involved with the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (newly appointed chair of the Broadening Participation Council, and past Governing Board Member), as well as the Atlantic Estuarine Research Society (Past President, Treasurer and Membership Chair). She is an Environmental Leadership Program Senior Fellow, a 2015 Prince Georges County 40 Under 40 Honoree in Science and Engineering, and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.