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Projects Worked On

Interdisciplinary teams of Center scientists are investigating the causes for the decline of salmon and steelhead in Shasta River, historically one of the most productive tributaries in the lower Klamath Basin. A large spring complex (Big Springs Creek) provides the majority of its water, particularly during the summer.
In 2008, Center researchers seized a rare opportunity to quantify the results of conservation action on a large scale. The Nature Conservancy bought ranchland along Big Springs Creek, a Shasta River tributary that had been degraded by cattle grazing. The conservancy continued ranching but fenced out cattle along the 2.2 mile stream.
The Center for Watershed Sciences is partnering with The Nature Conservancy in an experimental floodplain restoration on the Cosumnes River. The Center's role in this Department of Fish & Wildlife funded project, "Wildlife And Vegetation Response to Experimental Restoration of Flooded Riparian Forest Habitat for the Cosumnes River Preserve," is intended to conduct biophysical monitoring of an experimental restoration on approximately 800 acres of flooded riparian forest habitat in the Cosumnes River Preserve.
The Center for Watershed Sciences is investigating harvested rice fields as potential salmon nurseries that could help boost struggling Central Valley populations. Experimental releases of young hatchery salmon on the Yolo Bypass near Sacramento indicate that parts of the 57,000-acre floodway could make productive rearing habitat at relatively little cost to farmers.
This project measures and compares ecological productivity in two types of river systems in the Upper Sacramento River watershed. The project's team of ecologists, geologist and biologists is comparing the food-web dynamics of three spring-fed systems - Hat Creek, Fall River and tributaries of the upper Sacramento River - with those of rivers that receive mainly snowmelt and stormwater runoff in the same watershed.
The purpose of this study is to better understand the spawning migration and timing of rainbow trout in the spring-fed Fall River of Northern California.
The health and function of montane riparian and aquatic ecosystems should be monitored using quantitative, process-based, repeatable metrics in order for resource managers to consistently and affordably maintain, restore and conserve these dynamic environments. To increase our understanding and better assess the condition of riparian and aquatic ecosystems, we must link metrics of hydrologic alteration with quantitative assessments of physical habitat (geomorphology and water quality) and biotic communities.
Through consultation with CDFW, California Trout (CalTrout) initiated a “pilot” restoration project within the Carbon Reach of the Hat Creek WTA in October 2015. The focus of this pilot project was the introduction of large woody debris (LWD) structures to help stabilize fine sediment, increase spatial variability in flow velocities and depths, and also provide overhead cover to wild trout. Using high-resolution velocity and topographic data collected prior to and following the installation of LWD structures in Hat Creek, the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences evaluated hydraulic and geomorphic changes to the Carbon Reach associated with restoration activities.
The floodplains of California’s Central Valley and the tidal wetlands of the Delta have been dramatically reduced in the last 150 years, with both habitats types experiencing approximately a 95% reduction in historic areas. This fundamental change in habitats has potentially shifted how food webs function in the rivers, floodplains, and tidal wetlands. We hypothesize that the loss of floodplain and tidal habitats has changed the aquatic food web from a mixed detrital and autochthonous system to primarily an autochthonous system. This has resulted in a reduced flow of carbon through the food web and thus reduced ecosystem productivity.