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Marine Sciences Division

Kate Buenau

Marine Sciences Laboratory
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
1529 West Sequim Bay Road
Sequim, Washington 98382


Dr. Kate Buenau is an ecological modeler and quantitative ecologist with the Coastal Ecosystem Research group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Her experience includes studying and modeling species interactions and species-habitat relationships in temperate and tropical nearshore habitats and large river ecosystems. She has worked on developing quantitative decision support tools for adaptive management programs for birds and fish on the Missouri River and salmon habitat restoration in the Lower Columbia River estuary. She has also been involved in studies for analyzing and prioritizing stressors to eelgrass and overall indicators of ecosystem health in Puget Sound.

Research Interests

  • Ecological models of species-habitat relationships, population viability, and aquatic ecosystems
  • Quantitative decision support tools for habitat restoration and adaptive management
  • The effects of environmental heterogeneity and change on phase shifts and alternative stable states

Education and Credentials

  • 2003 B.S., Biology (minor in Mathematics), Arizona State University
  • 2009 Ph.D., Ecology, University of California, Santa Barbara

Affiliations and Professional Service

  • Ecological Society of America
  • Society for Ecological Restoration

Awards and Recognitions

  • 2010 OPA for contributions to Puget Sound-Georgia Basin Crossboundary Indicators project
  • 2008 Charles A. Storke Award, UC Santa Barbara

PNNL Publications


  • Diefenderfer H.L., G.E. Johnson, R.M. Thom, K.E. Buenau, L.A. Weitkamp, C.M. Woodley, and A.B. Borde, et al. 2016. "Evidence-based Evaluation of the Cumulative Effects of Ecosystem Restoration." Ecosphere 7, no. 3:e01242. PNNL-SA-104585. doi:10.1002/ecs2.1242


  • Buenau K.E. 2015. Modeling to Support the Development of Habitat Targets for Piping Plovers on the Missouri River. PNNL-24287. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


  • Buenau K.E., T.L. Hiller, and A.J. Tyre. 2014. "Modeling the effects of river flow on population dynamics of piping plovers (Charadrius melodus) and least terns (Sternula antillarum) nesting on the Missouri River." River Research and Applications 30, no. 8:964-975. PNNL-SA-91812. doi:10.1002/rra.2694


  • Diefenderfer H.L., G.E. Johnson, R.M. Thom, A.B. Borde, C.M. Woodley, L.A. Weitkamp, and K.E. Buenau, et al. 2013. An Evidence-Based Evaluation of the Cumulative Effects of Tidal Freshwater and Estuarine Ecosystem Restoration on Endangered Juvenile Salmon in the Columbia River: Final Report. PNNL-23037. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


  • Borde A.B., V.I. Cullinan, H.L. Diefenderfer, R.M. Thom, R.M. Kaufmann, S.A. Zimmerman, and J. Sagar, et al. 2012. Lower Columbia River and Estuary Ecosystem Restoration Program Reference Site Study: 2011 Restoration Analysis - FINAL REPORT. PNNL-21433. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


  • Diefenderfer H.L., G.E. Johnson, N.K. Sather, J.R. Skalski, E.M. Dawley, A.M. Coleman, and K.G. Ostrand, et al. 2011. Evaluation of Life History Diversity, Habitat Connectivity, and Survival Benefits Associated with Habitat Restoration Actions in the Lower Columbia River and Estuary, Annual Report 2010. PNNL-20295 Final. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
  • Roesijadi G., A.M. Coleman, C. Judd, F.B. Van Cleve, R.M. Thom, K.E. Buenau, and J.D. Tagestad, et al. 2011. Macroalgae Analysis A National GIS-based Analysis of Macroalgae Production Potential Summary Report and Project Plan. PNNL-21087. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
  • Thom R.M., H.L. Diefenderfer, J.E. Adkins, C. Judd, M.G. Anderson, K.E. Buenau, and A.B. Borde, et al. 2011. "Guidelines, processes and tools for coastal ecosystem restoration, with examples from the United States." Plankton & Benthos Research 5, no. Supplement:185-201. PNNL-SA-73076. doi:10.3800/pbr.5.185

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Marine Sciences Laboratory
1529 W. Sequim Bay Road
Sequim, WA 98382
Phone: (360) 683-4151
Fax: (360) 681-3699