Drought reshaping California's ecosystems

Floppy hatted UC Davis researchers Peter Moyle and Rebecca Quinones conducting assessment of drought's effect on Cache Creek, Solano County.

Center for Watershed Sciences researchers are using the drought to explore where native fish have the best chances of surviving, as the journal Nature reported today (Aug. 12). 

Rebecca Quiñones and Peter Moyle are taking the pulse of nearly 50 streams and rivers across California this summer. Shown here wearing floppy hats at the first site — Cache Creek, Yolo County — the scientists are evaluating habitat conditions (temperature, flow, riparian vegetation, sediment) and sampling by electrofishing to document the composition and density of fish communities.

Two key questions in this study and subsequent assessments of these streams are:

  • Is the current drought hastening the decline of native fish?
  • For the streams that are more impaired, will this drought be a “resetting event” that completely wipes out native fishes and leaves them no way to recolonize once normal conditions return?

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