California Drought and Delta Fishes: Impacts of Multiple Stressors on the Physiological Performance and Predator/Prey Dynamics in Native and Non-Native fishes

Start/End: April, 2016 to April, 2018

Due to the rapid decline in Delta fish populations and projections for continued drought and climate change, the persistence of several Delta fishes is considered to be extremely vulnerable. Rising temperatures and salinity may impact the behavior of some fishes, which in turn may impact their larger aquatic communities. Understanding these interactions is essential for conservation planning efforts for Bay-Delta fishes, especially the delta smelt, under drought conditions and projected climate change.

For three important Delta fish species – endangered delta smelt, age-1 striped bass, and the comparatively resilient Mississippi silverside – this project will:

  • Determine species-specific vulnerability to elevated salinity and temperature
  • Assess species-specific saltwater tolerance at the tissue and cellular level
  • Characterize how elevated temperature and salinity affect behavior, specifically predator-prey interactions

This research will be used by the Interagency Ecological Program (IEP), which includes nine State and Federal agency partners, to address the Pelagic Organism Decline (POD).