Using Genomics to Explore the Physiological Effects of Elevated Water Temperature on Bay-Delta Fish

Start/End: September, 2013 to August, 2015

Scientists expect that climate change will increase San Francisco Bay’s water temperatures, potentially degrading habitat for species with preferences for cooler conditions. In the project’s first year, the fellow plans to document the thermal tolerances of three fish species in the bay: delta smelt, longfin smelt and inland silverside. Both smelt species are native fishes experiencing dramatic population declines, while the inland silverside is an abundant, exotic species with a high tolerance for a range of environmental 29 conditions. In the project’s second stage, the fellow will attempt to identify the genes activated by thermal stress and will use these genes to develop an assay for assessing thermal stress levels in wild fish that might not have any outward signs of physiological distress (such as lower growth rates). Findings from this project will help identify species-specific biomarkers of thermal stress for long-term ecosystem management under climate change scenarios.

Research mentor: Richard Connon and Nann Fangue, UC Davis

Community mentor: Ted Sommer, Department of Water Resources, California Natural Resources Agency