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 2, Issue 1, 2004
This paper reviews the current state of knowledge of the open waters of the San Francisco Estuary. This estuary is well known for the extent to which it has been altered through loss of wetlands, changes in hydrography, and the introduction of chemical and biological contaminants. It is also one of the most studied estuaries in the world, with much of the recent research effort aimed at supporting restoration efforts. In this review I emphasize the conceptual foundations for our current understanding of estuarine dynamics, particularly those aspects relevant to restoration. Several themes run throughout this paper. First is the critical role physical dynamics play in setting the stage for chemical and biological responses. Physical forcing by the tides and by variation in freshwater input combine to control the movement of the salinity field, and to establish stratification, mixing, and dilution patterns throughout the estuary. Many aspects of estuarine dynamics respond to interannual variation in freshwater flow; in particular, abundance of several estuarine-dependent species of fish and shrimp varies positively with flow, although the mechanisms behind these relationships are largely unknown. The second theme is the importance of time scales in determining the degree of interaction between dynamic processes. Physical effects tend to dominate when they operate at shorter time scales than biological processes; when the two time scales are similar, important interactions can arise between physical and biological variability. These interactions can be seen, for example, in the response of phytoplankton blooms, with characteristic time scales of days, to stratification events occurring during neap tides. The third theme is the key role of introduced species in all estuarine habitats; particularly noteworthy are introduced waterweeds and fishes in the tidal freshwater reaches of the estuary, and introduced clams there and in brackish water. The final theme is the rather heterogeneous set of results from monitoring and research in the estuary. For example, some topics have been subjects of intense activity both in research and monitoring (e.g., physical dynamics of the upper estuary, phytoplankton blooms), while others have received little attention (e.g., microzooplankton). In addition, both research and monitoring have emphasized some regions of the estuary (e.g., the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta) over others (e.g., San Pablo Bay). In addition, ecological modeling and synthesis has emphasized lower trophic levels over higher. Opportunities for restoration in the open waters of the estuary are somewhat limited by the lack of scientific basis for restoration, and the difficulty in detecting ecosystem responses in the context of high natural variability.