SFEWS: Volume 19, Issue 2
Welcome to the June issue of San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science. At midyear in 2021, research surrounding the San Francisco Estuary looks forward. Here, six articles in four categories offer advances in science using new technologies and a re-examination of past efforts.
Photo: CA Dept. of Water Resources, public domain.
In Honor of Dr. Larry R. Brown
Herbold et al. remember Dr. Larry R. Brown, who died suddenly in February of 2021. This note captures how important his scientific work was in the San Francisco Estuary and why he will be intensely missed by many of his colleagues.
Photo: Canva stock image
Preparing Scientists, Policymakers, and Managers for a Fast-Forward Future
To accelerate forward-looking science, policy, and management in the Delta, Norgaard et al. propose that the State of California create a Delta Science Visioning Process to fully and openly assess the challenges of more rapid change to science, policy, and management and offer appropriate solutions, including legislation.
Photo: CA Dept. of Water Resources, public domain
Ecological Effects of Climate-Driven Salinity Variation in the San Francisco Estuary: Can We Anticipate and Manage the Coming Changes?
Ghalambor et al. review and summarize the presentations and discussions that arose during the symposium “Ecological and Physiological Impacts of Salinization of Aquatic Systems from Human Activities,” which brought together an interdisciplinary group of scientists, managers, and policy-makers to answer the central question: can we use existing knowledge and future projections to predict and manage anticipated ecological impacts?
Photo: Canva stock image
Effects of Tidally Varying River Flow on Entrainment of Juvenile Salmon into Sutter and Steamboat Slough
Previous studies suggest that fish generally “go with the flow”—however, complex tidal hydrodynamics at sub-daily time-scales may be decoupled from net flow. To further examine entrainment of acoustically tagged juvenile Chinook Salmon into Sutter and Steamboat sloughs, Romine et al. modeled routing of acoustic tagged juvenile salmon as a function of tidally varying hydrodynamic data. Results indicate that discharge, the proportion of flow that entered the slough, and the rate of change of flow were good predictors of the probability of an individual fish being entrained.
Photo: John Burau
Examining Retention-at-Length of Pelagic Fishes Caught in the Fall Midwater Trawl Survey
A study was conducted in 2014-2015 to investigate and quantify the efficiency of the Fall Midwater Trawl for catching the endangered fish species Delta Smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus). Mitchell and Baxter revisit the same gear efficiency study and further utilize the data set by fitting selectivity curves for three additional pelagic fish species: Threadfin Shad (Dorosoma petenense), American Shad (Alosa sapidissima), and Mississippi Silverside (Menidia beryllina), and by applying more statistically sensitive approaches.
Photo: Lara Mitchell
Use of the SmeltCam as an Efficient Fish Sampling Alternative Within the San Francisco Estuary
Resource managers often rely on long-term monitoring surveys to detect trends in biological data. However, no survey gear is 100% efficient, and many sources of bias can both detect or miss biological trends. Huntsman et al. evaulate the SmeltCam, an imaging apparatus developed as a sampling alternative to long-term trawling gear surveys within the San Francisco Estuary, with the potential to reduce handling stress on sensitive species like the Delta Smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus).
Photo: Ken Newman
Volume 12, Issue 4, 2014
In branching channel networks, such as in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, junction flow dynamics contribute to dispersion of ecologically important entities such as fish, pollutants, nutrients, salt, sediment, and phytoplankton. Flow transport through a junction largely arises from velocity phasing in the form of divergent flow between junction channels for a portion of the tidal cycle. Field observations in the Georgiana Slough junction, which is composed of the North and South Mokelumne rivers, Georgiana Slough, and the Mokelumne River, show that flow phasing differences between these rivers arise from operational, riverine, and tidal forcing. A combination of Acoustic Doppler Current Profile (ADCP) boat transecting and moored ADCPs over a spring–neap tidal cycle (May to June 2012) monitored the variability of spatial and temporal velocity, respectively. Two complementary drifter studies enabled assessment of local transport through the junction to identify small-scale intrajunction dynamics. We supplemented field results with numerical simulations using the SUNTANS model to demonstrate the importance of phasing offsets for junction transport and dispersion. Different phasing of inflows to the junction resulted in scalar patchiness that is characteristic of MacVean and Stacey’s (2011) advective tidal trapping. Furthermore, we observed small-scale junction flow features including a recirculation zone and shear layer, which play an important role in intra-junction mixing over time scales shorter than the tidal cycle (i.e., super-tidal time scales). The study period spanned open- and closed-gate operations at the Delta Cross Channel. Synthesis of field observations and modeling efforts suggest that management operations related to the Delta Cross Channel can strongly affect transport in the Delta by modifying the relative contributions of tidal and riverine flows, thereby changing the junction flow phasing.
Physically Based Modeling of Delta Island Consumptive Use: Fabian Tract and Staten Island, California
Water use estimation is central to managing most water problems. To better understand water use in California’s Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, a collaborative, integrated approach was used to predict Delta island diversion, consumption, and return of water on a more detailed temporal and spatial resolution. Fabian Tract and Staten Island were selected for this pilot study based on available data and island accessibility. Historical diversion and return location data, water rights claims, LiDAR digital elevation model data, and Google Earth were used to predict island diversion and return locations, which were tested and improved through ground-truthing. Soil and land-use characteristics as well as weather data were incorporated with the Integrated Water Flow Model Demand Calculator to estimate water use and runoff returns from input agricultural lands. For modeling, the islands were divided into grid cells forming subregions, representing fields, levees, ditches, and roads. The subregions were joined hydrographically to form diversion and return watersheds related to return and diversion locations. Diversions and returns were limited by physical capacities. Differences between initial model and measured results point to the importance of seepage into deeply subsided islands. The capabilities of the models presented far exceeded current knowledge of agricultural practices within the Delta, demonstrating the need for more data collection to enable improvements upon current Delta Island Consumptive Use estimates.
California’s Feather River Hatchery (FRH) propagates two runs of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha): spring run and fall run. Loss of spawning habitat and historical hatchery practices have led to introgression of these runs. Recent efforts to reform hatchery operations at the FRH are focused on reducing introgression and increasing the proportion of natural-origin spawners in the broodstock. Implementing these reforms, however, requires a means of distinguishing FRH fish from natural-origin fish, and FRH spring-run fish from FRH fall-run fish. Coded-wire tagging and parentage-based genetic tagging can be used for this purpose, but are labor-intensive and expensive. Otolith thermal marking (OTM) is a 100% marking technique widely used in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and Russia that can be effective and relatively inexpensive. We initiated an OTM program at the FRH in 2005 to determine its viability as a 100% marking tool for a hatchery with an annual production goal of 10 million smolts. Our analysis of otoliths collected from returning adults at the FRH demonstrated that OTM could be successfully applied to identify the origin (FRH or natural) and, for FRH fish, the run type (spring run or fall run). Otoliths collected between 2009 and 2011 show run-type mixing between 12% to 20% in both spring-run and fall-run FRH broodstock. Additionally, results suggest natural-spawner contribution to hatchery broodstock is very low (<1% to 10%). OTM may provide another way to reduce the rate of introgression between FRH spring-run and fall-run Chinook salmon, and increasing the proportion of natural origin spawners in hatchery broodstock, both of which should improve the long-term viability of FRH spring-run and fall-run Chinook salmon.