Delta Science Fellowship postdoctoral research project

Funding agencies: The Delta Science Program, California Sea Grant

Fellow and principal investigators:

  • Denise Colombano (UC Berkeley)
  • Albert Ruhi (UC Berkeley)
  • Stephanie Carlson (UC Berkeley)

Community mentor:

  • James Hobbs (California Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Project description:

Estuaries are transition zones that physically and ecologically link marine and freshwater ecosystems. In river-dominated estuaries, such as the San Francisco Estuary, oceanic influences propagate landward while terrestrial influences propagate seaward. Importantly, the relative magnitude of these opposing influences vary as a function of seasonal and interannual variation in hydroclimate. Over the last decade, numerous studies have quantified the effects of such physical drivers on water quality and primary and secondary productivity along the estuarine gradient. Different long-term datasets exist that would allow us to better understand past and predict future responses of fishes to such hydroclimatic fluctuations. However, such exercises are challenging because there is variation in sampling methodology, species targeted, sampling effort, etc.

Our project seeks to synthesize long-term datasets to answer the following questions: How does community stability and juvenile recruitment vary along the estuarine gradient? How do fishes respond to physical habitat types (e.g., depth, shoreline type) along the estuarine gradient? How will fishes respond to future climate regimes, sea level rise, and freshwater flows along the estuarine gradient?

Time frame:

Funded from June 2020 to May 2022. Expect an update with our first batch of results in Spring 2021!