Center ecologists spotlight north Delta, Suisun Marsh

Several Center for Watershed Sciences researchers are presenting at this week's Bay-Delta Science Conference in Sacramento.

On Wednesday, ecologist John Durand, fish biology professor Peter Moyle and others are scheduled to present their latest findings on ecosystems in the north Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Suisun Marsh.

Durand, Denise De CarionMatt Young and Brian Williamson have been collecting data on fish populations in these areas to help determine the best way to restore wetlands favored by native fish, such as tule perch and Sacramento splittail.

Through his research, Durand says he came to favor a highly managed approach to wetland restoration, similar to what duck clubs have developed in Suisun Marsh:

The north Delta trawl sampling also has shown the drought’s impact on fish. Durand says the ratio of native fishes to non-native fishes has gone down in the past two years:

Most scientists agree the Delta cannot be restored to look or function as it did at some idyllic point in the past — before the region was extensively drained for farming and became a water supply hub for much of California's population. Too much has changed for that to happen.

Discussions at Tuesday’s opening of the science conference focused mostly on how to manage the Delta for both ecosystem and economic objectives. The conference at the Sacramento Convention Center continues through Thursday with more than 1,000 scientists, managers and policymakers attending.

Photo: John Durand by Margot Boorman