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 2, Issue 2, 2004
Spatial and Temporal Variability of Suspended-Sediment Concentrations in a Shallow Estuarine Environment
Shallow subembayments respond differently than deep channels to physical forces acting in estuaries. The U.S. Geological Survey measured suspended-sediment concentrations at five locations in Honker Bay, a shallow subembayment of San Francisco Bay, and the adjacent channel to investigate the spatial and temporal differences between deep and shallow estuarine environments. During the first freshwater pulse of the wet season, the channel tended to transport suspended sediments through the system, whereas the shallow area acted as off-channel storage where deposition would likely occur. Following the freshwater pulse, suspended-sediment concentrations were greater in Honker Bay than in the adjacent deep channel, due to the larger supply of erodible sediment on the bed. However, the tidal variability of suspended-sediment concentrations in both Honker Bay and in the adjacent channel was greater after the freshwater pulse than before. During wind events, suspended-sediment concentrations in the channel were not affected; however, wind played a crucial role in the resuspension of sediments in the shallows. Despite wind-wave sediment resuspension in Honker Bay, tidally averaged suspended-sediment flux was controlled by the flood-dominated currents.
Human activities within a watershed, such as agriculture, urbanization, and dam building, may affect the sediment yield from the watershed. Because the equilibrium geomorphic form of an estuary is dependent in part on the sediment supply from the watershed, anthropogenic activities within the watershed have the potential to affect estuary geomorphology. The Sacramento River drains the northern half of California’s Central Valley and is the primary source of sediment to San Francisco Bay. In this paper, it is shown that the delivery of suspended-sediment from the Sacramento River to San Francisco Bay has decreased by about one-half during the period 1957 to 2001. Many factors may be contributing to the trend in sediment yield, including the depletion of erodible sediment from hydraulic mining in the late 1800s, trapping of sediment in reservoirs, riverbank protection, altered land-uses (such as agriculture, grazing, urbanization, and logging), and levees. This finding has implications for planned tidal wetland restoration activities around San Francisco Bay, where an adequate sediment supply will be needed to build subsided areas to elevations typical of tidal wetlands as well as to keep pace with projected sea-level rise. In a broader context, the study underscores the need to address anthropogenic impacts on watershed sediment yield when considering actions such as restoration within downstream depositional areas.
Biology and Population Dynamics of Sacramento Splittail (Pogonichthys macrolepidotus) in the San Francisco Estuary: A Review
The Sacramento splittail (Pogonichthys macrolepidotus) is a cyprinid fish endemic to the Central Valley of California with a range that centers on the San Francisco Estuary. It is a state Species of Special Concern and was only recently (2003) delisted as a threatened species by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Splittail live 7-9 years, tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, and have high fecundity. Typically, adults migrate upstream in January and February and spawn on seasonally inundated floodplains in March and April. In May the juveniles migrate back downstream to shallow, brackish water rearing grounds, where they feed on detritus and invertebrates for 1-2 years before migrating back upstream to spawn. Seven long-term sampling programs in the estuary indicate that the splittail population is maintained by strong year classes resulting from successful spawning in wet years, although some spawning occurs in all years. Modeling shows them to be resilient, but managing floodplains to promote frequent successful spawning is needed to keep them abundant. Additionally, it is important to provide safe migration corridors between spawning and rearing grounds as well as abundant high-quality brackish water rearing habitat. Key research needs are (1) to examine how the timing, magnitude, and duration of high flows contribute to the generation of strong year classes, (2) to describe differences in young of year survival on the floodplain and in river margins from hatching to down-river migration, (3) explore the possible trophic effects of new invaders such as the overbite clam and Siberian prawn, and (4) determine the response of splittail populations to climate change and sea level rise.