2:10 PM, 2045 Bainer Hall
Experimental flooding of agricultural land as rearing habitat for juvenile salmon in the Yolo Bypass, California
Dr. Louise Conrad
California Department of Water Resources
Floodplain habitat restoration is an essential aspect of large-scale plans for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and is required of the California Department of Water Resources and the US Bureau of Reclamation for compliance with the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Biological Opinion for endangered Chinook Salmon. These plans specifically target the Yolo Bypass, a major floodway for the Sacramento area and an agricultural center within the northern Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. However, critical uncertainties remain regarding the potential benefits of seasonal, managed inundation of agricultural land for salmon habitat. If flooded agricultural land can be used as productive nursery habitat for young salmon, a multi-use management paradigm may be possible in the Yolo Bypass in which farmers, endangered fishes, and waterfowl all benefit. Since 2012, California Department of Water Resources has collaborated with state and federal agencies, private landowners, and nonprofit groups to investigate the benefits of managed inundation of agricultural land for salmon rearing. Our work has included experimental flooding, replicated studies to determine the effects of different agricultural substrates, as well as detailed habitat use studies using telemetry methods to track individual fish. Results have consistently shown exceptional growth rates for juvenile salmon on agricultural land, with no discernible effects of substrate. Juvenile salmon survival has been variable and will be a subject of continuing research. Future work will also investigate the possibility of extending the duration of natural floods on agricultural land as a management strategy for providing salmon nursery habitat in the Yolo Bypass.
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2045 Bainer Hall University of California Davis