SFEWS Vol. 20, Issue 1 | March 2021
#CentralValley #ChinookSalmon #otolithchemistry #Steelhead #monitoring #surveys #catchability #detectionefficiency #DeltaSmelt #supplementation #Ich #pathogens #organiccarbon #stablecarbon #nitrogen #inputs #YubaRiver #watersheds
Variation in Juvenile Salmon Growth Opportunities Across a Shifting Habitat Mosaic
Coleman et al. found that juvenile Chinook Salmon grew faster in the Delta in some years (2016), but slower in the Delta during drought conditions (2014 to 2015). Habitat that featured faster growth rates varied within and among years, suggesting the importance of maintaining a habitat mosaic for juvenile salmonids, particularly in a dynamic environment such as the California Central Valley.
Counting the Parts to Understand the Whole: Rethinking Monitoring of Steelhead in California’s Central Valley
Eschenroeder et al. argue that a reallocation of monitoring resources to better understand the interaction between resident and anadromous Steelhead would provide better data to estimate the vital rates needed to evaluate the effects of recovery actions.
Relative Bias in Catch Among Long-Term Fish Monitoring Surveys Within the San Francisco Estuary
Huntsman et al. assessed relative catchability differences among four long-term fish monitoring surveys from the San Francisco Estuary. Their results demonstrate that catchability is a source of bias among monitoring efforts within the San Francisco Estuary, and assuming equal catchability among surveys, species, and size classes could result in significant bias when describing spatio-temporal patterns in catch if ignored.
Investigation of Molecular Pathogen Screening Assays for Use in Delta Smelt
Gille et al. conducted a pilot study that applied molecular assays originally developed in salmonids to assess the presence of a wide variety of pathogens in the gill tissue of cultured and wild Delta Smelt—as well as cultured fish—deployed in enclosures in the estuary. Although disease is not an overt cause of population decline of Delta Smelt in the San Francisco Estuary, comprehensive pathogen presence and prevalence data are lacking, and unintended transmission of pathogens can have devastating effects on populations already at-risk or on the natural ecosystem at large. Their results corroborate previous work that cultured Delta Smelt do not appear to present a high risk for pathogen transmission during population supplementation or reintroduction.
Multi-Biomarker Analysis for Identifying Organic Matter Sources in Small Mountainous River Watersheds: A Case Study of the Yuba River Watershed
Pondell and Canuel's study focused on identifying the composition of watershed-derived organic matter (OM). To better understand inputs to inland waters and improve distinguish between terrigenous and aquatic sources in downstream systems, such as estuaries and coasts, they surveyed OM sources from the Yuba River watershed in northern California to identify specific biomarkers that represent aquatic and terrigenous OM sources. Results demonstrate the utility of multi-biomarker studies for distinguishing between OM from different sources and land uses, offering new insights for biogeochemical studies in aquatic systems.
Volume 10, Issue 3, 2012
Special Issue: Conceptual Models to Support Restoration Planning: the DRERIP Approach
Using Conceptual Models in Ecosystem Restoration Decision Making: An Example from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, California
The Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta (the Delta) is located on the western edge of California’s Central Valley and is of critical ecological and economic importance. However, ecosystem alterations for human uses changed many of the Delta’s natural processes, and it is now considered in need of restoration. An approach was developed to evaluate and rank restoration actions in the Delta under the Ecosystem Restoration Program’s Delta Regional Ecosystem Restoration Implementation Plan (DRERIP). The DRERIP approach provides an explicit framework for evaluating restoration actions, using linked conceptual models, an action evaluation procedure, and a decision-support tool. Conceptual models allow scientists and managers to synthesize scientific information and make qualitative predictions about ecosystem function and restoration outcomes to guide and focus restoration efforts. The action evaluation procedure is a structured assessment of restoration actions. The procedure clearly describes actions to be evaluated, assesses the magnitude (importance and scale) and certainty of anticipated ecological outcomes, estimates degrees of worth (achieving intended outcomes) and risk (causing adverse consequences), evaluates the reversibility of the action, and identifies opportunities for learning. The values for worthiness, risk, reversibility, and learning opportunity are used in the decision- support tool to determine the fate of a proposed action. The decision-support tool is a structured decision tree that determines the disposition of an action: whether a restoration project should be discarded, revised with a different approach and re-evaluated, or implemented; and, if implemented, at what scale (targeted research, pilot project, or full implementation). The DRERIP approach provides managers with a valuable tool for restoration planning, and a foundation for integration with quantitative methods for a comprehensive ecosystem restoration plan.
Central Valley Chinook must pass through the San Francisco Estuary as juveniles and again as maturing adults. Much attention has been given to the effects on Chinook of management of the freshwater part of the estuary, and the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, and especially to the effects on Chinook of diversions of water from the Delta. Here, I review available information on juvenile Chinook in and around the estuary that seems most relevant to management of the estuary and of Chinook. Most naturally produced juvenile fall Chinook enter the estuary as small fish (<50 mm) that typically use tidal habitats, and anthropogenic changes in the Delta and around the bays have sharply reduced that habitat. Nevertheless, there is evidence that many surviving naturally produced fall Chinook leave fresh water at <55 mm length. Juvenile Chinook from other runs are older and larger when they enter the estuary, and probably pass through it more rapidly. Presumably, these have been less directly affected by loss of tidal habitat, but are also affected by degradation of the estuarine ecosystem. The effects of Delta diversions on Chinook vary strongly by run and river of origin; surprisingly few Sacramento River fall Chinook have been recovered at the diversions. Central Valley Chinook, especially fall Chinook, are strongly affected by hatchery culture that reduces juvenile life-history diversity, probably results in density-dependent mortality in the estuary, and presumably reduces fitness for natural reproduction. Hatchery culture diverts juvenile fall Chinook away from, and precludes for selection for, the life history trajectories followed by most naturally produced fish, to which more attention should be given.
Sedimentation in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta builds the Delta landscape, creates benthic and pelagic habitat, and transports sediment-associated contaminants. Here we present a conceptual model of sedimentation that includes submodels for river supply from the watershed to the Delta, regional transport within the Delta and seaward exchange, and local sedimentation in open water and marsh habitats. The model demonstrates feedback loops that affect the Delta ecosystem. Submerged and emergent marsh vegetation act as ecosystem engineers that can create a positive feedback loop by decreasing suspended sediment, increasing water column light, which in turn enables more vegetation. Sea-level rise in open water is partially countered by a negative feedback loop that increases deposition if there is a net decrease in hydrodynamic energy. Manipulation of regional sediment transport is probably the most feasible method to control suspended sediment and thus turbidity. The conceptual model is used to identify information gaps that need to be filled to develop an accurate sediment transport model.
Floodplains are among the most biologically productive and diverse ecosystems on Earth and they provide significant benefits to society such as attenuation of floodwaters, groundwater recharge, filtration of nutrients and sediments, carbon sequestration, fisheries productivity and recreation. However, floodplains are also among the most converted and threatened ecosystems. Floodplain habitats in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and throughout California’s Central Valley, have been greatly reduced from their historic extent and key processes that create and maintain floodplains, such as flood flows and meander migration, have been greatly altered. These widespread alterations to habitats and processes have lead to declines in many species’ populations in California’s Central Valley and Delta, creating challenges for both environmental and water management. To address these challenges numerous entities and programs are now focused on restoring floodplains and other Delta habitats. This paper provides a conceptual model for floodplains that characterizes the key features and identifies the critical processes, drivers, and linkages that allow floodplains to produce a variety of functional outputs of management importance. These outputs include: (1) the floodplain habitat mosaic, including riparian vegetation and its associated wildlife; (2) spawning and rearing habitat for native fish; and (3) food-web productivity that can support native fish on the floodplain as well as be exported to downstream ecosystems. The model emphasizes that the production of these outputs from floodplains requires vertical and lateral hydrological connectivity across a broad range of flow conditions. For example, long-duration flooding in the spring promotes native fish spawning and food-web productivity that benefits native species.