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 3, Issue 1, 2005
Abstracts are not presented with Editorials. -SFEWS Editors
Computer model results are becoming more prominent in water policy deliberations in California. CalSim II is the most prominent water management model in California, and has become central to a variety of water management and policy issues and controversies. This paper reports on the results of an extensive set of loosely-structured interviews with members of California’s technical and policy-oriented water management community regarding the use and development of CalSim II in California. The interviewers reflect on the thoughts of interviewees and how such interview activities can further policy-effective modeling and technical activities for water management. CalSim II is a complex model of a complex part of California’s changing multi-purpose water system. As such, analytical controversies and misunderstandings are inevitable. Ideally, a model and its associated data would perform an additional service as a forum to resolve technical controversies and continually improve quantitative understanding of the system. While CalSim II is generally seen as a significant improvement over previous models, a wide variety of ideas are suggested for improvements.
The CALFED Bay-Delta Program is an ambitious effort to restore ecosystems and improve reliability of ecosystem services in California’s Central Valley. Key issues for CALFED and its Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP) include (1) meeting societal demand for multiple, potentially conflicting ecosystem services; (2) the tradeoff among more or less environmentally intrusive approaches to solving problems; (3) whether restoration should focus at the ecosystem level or on individual species; (4) the appropriate response to uncertainty; and (5) the tension between action and investigation. A long-term, landscape-scale perspective is essential for framing the scientific questions underlying these broad issues. We introduce a landscape-scale conceptual model that illustrates linkages, including material flows and animal migration, among the major ecosystem components being described in detail in a series of review papers. This model shows how linkages between ecosystem components result in remote consequences of locally applied restoration actions. The network of linkages is made more complicated by human interventions, which add components not previously a part of the landscape (e.g., salmonid hatcheries) and alter or even reverse causal relations. A landscape perspective also helps identify conceptual gaps in CALFED’s restoration strategy, such as climate change and human population growth, which should be explicitly considered in forecasts of the long-term prospects for restoration. A landscape perspective is no panacea; in particular, the effects of restoration at this scale will be difficult to detect. Nevertheless, we advocate integrating investigations of processes at nested, smaller scales as an approach for evaluating effects of individual restoration actions and of the entire program. We believe CALFED and other large restoration programs will be most successful if they are able to integrate both societal expectations and scientific study at the landscape level.
As in many U.S. estuaries, the tidal San Joaquin River exhibits elevated organic matter production that interferes with beneficial uses of the river, including fish spawning and migration. High phytoplankton biomass in the tidal river is consequently a focus of management strategies. An unusually long and comprehensive monitoring dataset enabled identification of the determinants of phytoplankton biomass. Phytoplankton carrying capacity may be set by nitrogen or phosphorus during extreme drought years but, in most years, growth rate is light-limited. The size of the annual phytoplankton bloom depends primarily on river discharge during late spring and early summer, which determines the cumulative light exposure in transit downstream. The biomass-discharge relationship has shifted over the years, for reasons as yet unknown. Water diversions from the tidal San Joaquin River also affect residence time during passage downstream and may have resulted in more than a doubling of peak concentration in some years. Dam construction and accompanying changes in storage-and-release patterns from upstream reservoirs have caused a long-term decrease in the frequency of large blooms since the early 1980s, but projected climate change favors a future increase. Only large decreases in nonpoint nutrient sources will limit phytoplankton biomass reliably. Growth rate and concentration could increase if nonpoint source management decreases mineral suspensoid load but does not decrease nutrient load sufficiently. Small changes in water storage and release patterns due to dam operation have a major influence on peak phytoplankton biomass, and offer a near-term approach for management of nuisance algal blooms.
The uncertainties associated with climate-change projections for California are unlikely to disappear any time soon, and yet important long-term decisions will be needed to accommodate those potential changes. Projection uncertainties have typically been addressed by analysis of a few scenarios, chosen based on availability or to capture the extreme cases among available projections. However, by focusing on more common projections rather than the most extreme projections (using a new resampling method), new insights into current projections emerge: (1) uncertainties associated with future greenhouse-gas emissions are comparable with the differences among climate models, so that neither source of uncertainties should be neglected or underrepresented; (2) twenty-first century temperature projections spread more, overall, than do precipitation scenarios; (3) projections of extremely wet futures for California are true outliers among current projections; and (4) current projections that are warmest tend, overall, to yield a moderately drier California, while the cooler projections yield a somewhat wetter future. The resampling approach applied in this paper also provides a natural opportunity to objectively incorporate measures of model skill and the likelihoods of various emission scenarios into future assessments.
Policy and Program Analysis
Anthropogenic accommodation space, or that space in the Delta that lies below sea level and is filled neither with sediment nor water, serves as a useful measure of the regional consequences of Delta subsidence and sea level rise. Microbial oxidation and compaction of organic-rich soils due to farming activity is the primary cause of Delta subsidence. During the period 1900-2000, subsidence created approximately 2.5 billion cubic meters of anthropogenic accommodation space in the Delta. From 2000-2050, subsidence rates will slow due to depletion of organic material and better land use practices. However, by 2050 the Delta will contain more than 3 billion cubic meters of anthropogenic accommodation space due to continued subsidence and sea level rise. An Accommodation Space Index, which relates subaqueous accommodation space to anthropogenic accommodation space, provides an indicator of past and projected Delta conditions. While subsidence and sea level rise create increasing anthropogenic accommodation space in the Delta, they also lead to a regional increase in the forces that can cause levee failure. Although these forces take many forms, a Levee Force Index can be calculated that is a proxy for the cumulative forces acting on levees. The Levee Force Index increases significantly over the next 50 years demonstrating regional increases in the potential for island flooding. Based on continuing increases in the Levee Force Index and the Accommodation Space Index, and limited support for Delta levee upgrades, there will be a tendency for increases in and impacts of island flooding, with escalating costs for repairs. Additionally, there is a two-in-three chance that 100-year recurrence interval floods or earthquakes will cause catastrophic flooding and significant change in the Delta by 2050. Currently, the California Bay-Delta Authority has no overarching policy that addresses the consequences of, and potential responses to, gradual or abrupt landscape change in the Delta.