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Energy and Environment Directorate

Kate Buenau

Kate Buenau

Battelle Marine Sciences Laboratory
1529 West Sequim Bay Road
Sequim, WA 98382
(360) 681-4590


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


  • Buenau K.E., L. Garavelli, L.G. Hemery, and G. Garcia Medina. 2022. "A review of modeling approaches for understanding and monitoring the environmental effects of marine renewable energy." Journal of Marine Science and Engineering 10, no. 1:Art. No. 94. PNNL-SA-156376. doi:10.3390/jmse10010094


  • Diefenderfer H.L., G.D. Steyer, M.C. Harwell, A.J. Loschiavo, H.A. Neckles, D.M. Burdick, and G.E. Johnson, et al. 2021. "Applying cumulative effects to strategically advance large-scale ecosystem restoration." Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 19, no. 2:108-117. PNNL-SA-144525. doi:10.1002/fee.2274


  • Thom R.M., J. Gaeckle, K.E. Buenau, A.B. Borde, J. Vavrinec, L.M. Aston, and D.L. Woodruff, et al. 2018. "Eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) Restoration in Puget Sound: Development of a Site Suitability Assessment Process." Restoration Ecology 26, no. 6:1066-1074. PNNL-SA-128364. doi:10.1111/rec.12702


  • 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., 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


  • 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

Energy and Environment

Core Research Areas