Striped Bass: Population Dynamics and Ecology of an Iconic Alien Species

The focus of the Striped Bass project is to update understanding on striped bass demographics in the San Francisco Estuary and compare data with populations on the Atlantic Coast and elsewhere. The study will rely on existing and new research, including radio-tagging and stable isotope analysis.

The striped bass is a non-native fish that plays an important role in the San Francisco Estuary (SFE) and watershed. Striped bass share many life-history adaptations with native fishes which allow persistence in predictably variable environments. The long-term decline of striped bass tracks the decline of other native estuarine fishes and has numerous interacting causes that have changed through time. The decline of juvenile striped bass in agency surveys of the mainstem is not reflected in Suisun Marsh, suggesting the marsh may be a refuge/nursery area.

This research explores:

-Existing studies and data sets from local and east-coast populations

-The importance of Suisun Marsh for striped bass and other fishes that are part of the Pelagic Organism Decline (POD)

-The effect of ocean-migrating females on population dynamics

-Actions that may improve the management of striped bass in the SFE



Delta Solutions

Named for its two central rivers, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is the upper part of the San Francisco Bay, the largest estuary on the Pacific coast of the United States. The Delta provides California with an aquatic lifeline-irrigation for more than a million acres of farmland, water supply for 23 million residents, and critical habitat for migrating birds, two-thirds of the state's salmon and many other aquatic and terrestrial species.

The watershed of this large inland river delta includes nearly 40 percent of California and extends northward into Oregon. Much of the Delta's flows are currently diverted to millions of acres of farmland and residents, mostly upstream of the Delta, but also from pumps within the Delta. However, earthquakes, floods, droughts and non-native species are pushing the Delta into a crisis.

Researchers at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences are at the forefront in providing policymakers with the scientific information and analysis that can help identify and evaluate solutions to preserve the Delta's many environmental and economic services. In addition to broad and focused studies, the Center also develops analysis to provide new insights for on-going strategic planning efforts and to better evaluate proposed future policy decisions.

Analytical tools include large-scale water resource optimization models, hydrodynamic models that evaluate water quality, ecological models to assess the ecosystem impacts of water operations or ecosystem restoration efforts, and economic models that examine costs and alternatives for land and water management strategies.

The Center for Watershed Sciences communicates results and provides tools to decision makers throughout the state and remains engaged in developing Delta solutions for the long term. Considerable effort goes to outreach and education. This includes working directly with legislative staff, local governments, water contractors and non-governmental organizations throughout California as well as various media outlets to disseminate our results.

A less visible, but perhaps more important method of translating our work into tangible change in the management of the Delta and California water in general is through our students. Most of the graduate students and research staff who work on our projects remain within California, working as agency, water contractor, consultant or non-governmental organization staff. In this indirect, long-term way, this project improves the technical capacity of these organizations.