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  • Title

    Delta Salmon Rearing Project

    Lead San Francisco Estuary Institute [SFEI]
    Description This project summarizes existing research and knowledge around suitable rearing habitat for Chinook salmon in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta;identifies areas of suitability for rearing salmon using a combined suitability analysis of four mapped habitat parameters;and provides recommendations for types of restoration needed to improve or restore rearing habitat, as well as to identify where in the Delta these restoration efforts could be prioritized.
    Science topics Salmon rearing, Salmon migration, Habitat restoration
    Updated April 29, 2022
  • Title

    A Next-generation Model of Juvenile Salmon Migration through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

    Lead University of California - Santa Cruz [UCSC]
    Description While migrating through the Delta and its tributaries, Chinook salmon and steelhead move through diverse habitats, encounter predators, interact with highly dynamic flows, and are impacted by a multitude of human-made structures. Funding for this Project will be use to develop integrated system-level models that will effectively manage salmonid populations and other key resources in the California Central Valley.
    Science topics Salmon migration
    Updated November 18, 2022
  • Title

    Quantifying the contribution of tidal flow variations to survival of juvenile Chinook salmon

    Lead U.S. Geological Survey [USGS]
    Description The purpose of this project is to quantify how tides in the Delta influence survival of juvenile salmon. Juvenile salmon survival increases when there is more flow and the river is less tidally influenced. We hypothesize that the increase in survival is because of reduced travel times causing less exposure to predators. This project will test this hypothesis using multiple models including ones that can predict how management actions that modify tidal patterns affect juvenile salmon survival.
    Science topics Chinook Salmon, Salmon migration, Surface water / flow, Tides, Water management
    Updated January 29, 2024
  • Title

    Synchrony of Native Fish Movements: Synthesis Science Towards Adaptive Water Management in the Central Valley (FishSync)

    Lead University of California - Davis [UC Davis]
    Description Salmon and other native California fishes are in decline and increasingly targeted for enhanced conservation. Acoustic telemetry technologies have emerged, allowing researchers to track fish routes through the Central Valley. Yet while the use of acoustic telemetry has widened, little synthesis has occurred on the large, growing, and expensive datasets that already exist. The main goal of the project is to conduct a synthesis study of existing and high priority telemetry datasets for native and non-native fishes in the Central Valley. Using synchrony of movement rates, through space and time, we will develop a novel behavior-based statistical framework to gain understanding into the environmental conditions that promote movement/passage of diverse native fishes in the Central Valley. The project includes a Technical Advisory Group, composed of members of multiple conservation teams. The group will inform each step of study, strengthen syntheses, and enable rapid communication of results to decision makers. In total, the project will analyze 10 to 15 high-quality telemetry datasets encompassing a range of native fishes and life stages. This synthesis will yield major insights into water management practices that could help improve survival of native fish.
    Science topics Chinook Salmon, Fish, Salmon migration, Steelhead Trout, Sturgeon, White Sturgeon
    Updated December 4, 2022
  • Title

    Enhanced Acoustic Tagging, Analysis, and Real-Time Monitoring

    Lead National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA]
    Description Description This project tracks the movement and survival of wild and hatchery juvenile Chinook salmon with a large acoustic receiver network (JSATS), including real-time receivers, and the development of real-time metrics and retrospective modeling of juvenile salmon migration data. Need There is a well-documented need for improved detection and associated modeling of salmon migration and survival in the Central Valley. Understanding salmon survival and movement dynamics in the Delta and its tributaries is critical to the operation of state and federal water projects, recovery of ESA-listed species, and sport and commercial fisheries management. Objectives • Maintain 20 real-time JSATS receivers: will provide information on migrating salmon smolt location and timing of Delta entry and exist, which is key for informing time-sensitive decisions • Deployment of autonomous JSATS receiver array: this will provide fine-scale reach-specific survival and movement rates • Development of new metrics for the real-time data: this will inform key management relevant questions, such how many fish are entrained at critical junctions • Development of real-time website to convey movement and survival rates of acoustic tagged juvenile salmonids at various real-time locations in the Sacramento River and Delta.
    Science topics Salmon migration
    Updated April 29, 2022
  • Title

    Non-Invasive Environmental DNA Monitoring to Support Tidal Wetland Restoration

    Lead University of California - Davis [UC Davis]
    Description In this project we use single-species and multi-species environmental DNA (eDNA) approaches to monitor tidal wetland restoration sites and paired reference sites (existing, unrestored tidal wetlands located near restoration sites) in the San Francisco Bay Delta (SFBD). We are working in coordination with the CDFW Fish Restoration Program (FRP) and other collaborators so our eDNA detections can be paired with physical detections of fishes from their trawling efforts. Ultra-sensitive DNA single species detection methods are being used to identify restoration site use by listed species (Delta Smelt, Longfin Smelt, winter- and spring-run Chinook Salmon) while the DNA metabarcoding approach will evaluate entire fish communities (groups of different fish species) at restored and reference sites. Aside from revealing restored habitat use by other fishes, metabarcoding will reveal potential ecological interactions between Endangered Species Act listed and non-listed species, through concurrent detection in time and space. Sampling throughout the year will allow us to identify seasonal trends in fish use of restored and reference sites. This project will demonstrate the utility of eDNA detection as a non-invasive (no take), cost-effective monitoring tool that can complement conventional surveys of restored tidal wetlands in the SFBD. Our results can be incorporated into an adaptive monitoring framework for tidal wetland restoration, to increase success of future restoration projects.
    Science topics Chinook Salmon, Delta Smelt, Endangered species, Estuaries, Fish, Green sturgeon, Habitat, Habitat restoration, Invasive / non native species, Invertebrates, Longfin Smelt, Mollusks, Pelagic fish, Restoration, Restoration planning, Sacramento Splittail, Salmon migration, Salmon rearing, Steelhead Trout, Striped bass, Sturgeon, Tidal wetlands, Wetlands, White Sturgeon
    Updated May 24, 2024
  • Title

    Open-Source Resources for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Telemetry Research Community

    Lead Cramer Fish Sciences
    Description There is a great deal of telemetry data amassed from studies in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. It continues to grow every year with special studies and monitoring efforts. Multiple research priorities surrounding fish ecology in the Delta could be addressed, at least in part, by synthesizing the myriad telemetry data sets that exist; this work would benefit greatly from the centralization and standardization of data workflows surrounding telemetry research. With the guidance of a PIT Advisory Team, we plan to establish a collection of open-source, technology-agnostic, accessible resources to support a reproducible and transparent telemetry data workflow for researchers in the region. The workflow and resources do not invent new procedures, rather improve and standardize those already used by the telemetry research community. This will bring us in closer alignment with centralized, coordinated data workflows that have been successfully implemented in other regions and data communities. The final open-source set of resources will include a design and roadmap for implementing a central telemetry database and workflow, an R package for the preparation, QA/QC, and basic analysis of telemetry data, and a regional workshop offering training programs in the proposed telemetry data workflow.
    Science topics Chinook Salmon, Fish, Other species, Salmon migration, Steelhead Trout, Striped bass, Sturgeon
    Updated December 22, 2023
  • Title

    Standard Operating Procedure for Diagnosing and Addressing Predator Detections in Salmon Telemetry Data

    Lead University of Washington [UW]
    Description Tag predation is a complicating factor in juvenile salmon telemetry studies that can bias results, delay timely reporting, and prevent effective data synthesis. This project addresses the problem by (1) characterizing predatory fish movement patterns from existing telemetry data in the Delta; (2) developing a standard operating procedure for diagnosing and handling detections of predated tags in salmon telemetry studies; and (3) implementing the recommendations in a software package in Program R that includes code, a “library” of expected predator behaviors, and example vignettes. The R package will be freely available for download at
    Science topics Chinook Salmon, Endangered species, Fish, Intertidal / transition zones, Invasive / non native species, Predation, Salmon migration, Steelhead Trout, Striped bass
    Updated December 26, 2023
  • Title

    Impacts of predation and habitat on Central Valley Chinook smolt survival

    Lead University of Vermont, USGS Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
    Description The Sacramento River in California’s Central Valley has been highly modified over the past 150 years due to mining, urbanization, and impoundment/diversion of river flow to provide water for municipal, industrial, and agricultural needs. Land use changes combined with high levels of harvest have been accompanied by drastic declines in native salmon populations, including the once abundant Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Further, the region has been subject to the introduction and widespread establishment of non-native fish species, some of which are predators of juvenile salmon. Of the four historic ecotypes of Chinook salmon (fall, late-fall, winter, and spring runs), winter- and spring-runs have been most impacted and are currently listed as endangered and threatened respectively under the US Endangered Species act. Past research has illustrated how smoltification of juvenile salmon and outmigration from freshwater to the ocean is a time of increased mortality, and reduced survival at this life stage can impact the number of reproducing adults returning to the system in subsequent years. While these studies have provided valuable information on how habitat and environmental conditions experienced by migrating Chinook salmon smolts can affect survival, they have primarily focused on individual ecotypes during the portion of the year where downstream migrations occur. However, variation in smolt size and migration timing among ecotypes can expose migrating fish to differing environmental conditions and levels of exposure to predation, which can present distinct risks for outmigration survival. To identify the areas and environmental conditions which have the greatest relative impact on juvenile survival for each ecotype, this project will use over ten years of data (2012-2022) from acoustically tagged smolts representing all four Chinook salmon ecotypes in the Sacramento River/Central Valley. Combining these data will increase sample size relative to previous studies, the range of environmental conditions (e.g., temperature, flow, and predator abundance) modeled, the range of fish sizes, and thus, the statistical power of our analyses. We hypothesize that each ecotype will have different factors that will be the primary drivers of mortality experienced during outmigration. To test our hypotheses, we will implement Cormack-Jolly-Seber (CJS) mark-recapture models to estimate both the probability of survival through reaches of the Sacramento River delineated by acoustic receivers, and the detection probability in each reach. Survival will be modeled as a function of individual, release group, reach-specific, and time-varying covariates. Further, to examine the relative impact of predation on smolt survival, we will include an additional covariate representing predator-prey encounter rates using the Mean Free-path Length model. Finally, model selection will be applied to a series of CJS models to assess the relative impact of each covariate on smolt survival for each of the four Chinook ecotypes.
    Science topics Chinook Salmon, Environmental drivers, Fish, Flows, Habitat, Predation, Salmon migration, Water temperature
    Updated February 2, 2024