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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Sample Design-based Methodology for Estimating Delta Smelt Abundance

  • Author(s): Newman, Ken B.
  • et al.

A sample design-based procedure for estimating pre-adult and adult delta smelt abundance is described. Using data from midwater trawl surveys taken during the months of September, October, November, and December for the years 1990 through 2006 and estimates of size selectivity of the gear from a covered codend experiment, stratified random sample ratio estimates of delta smelt abundance were made per month. The estimation procedure is arguably an improvement over the dimensionless delta smelt indices that have been used historically in that (1) the volume sampled is used in a manner that leads to directly interpretable numbers and (2) standard errors are easily calculated. The estimates are quite imprecise, i.e., coefficients of variation in the range of 100\% occurred. The point estimates are highly correlated with the monthly indices, and conclusions on abundance declines are quite similar. However, both the estimates and indices may suffer from selection biases if the trawl samples are not representative of the true densities. Future work is needed in at least three areas: (1) gathering additional information to determine the validity of assumptions made, in particular determining the possible degree of selection bias; (2) developing procedures that utilize survey data gathered from earlier life history stages, such as larval surveys; (3) embedding a life-history model into the population estimation procedure.

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