The ecology of the soft-bottom benthos of San Francisco Bay: a community profile

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Report 85(7.23)
By:  and 



This profile, part of a series of profiles concerning coastal habitats of the United States, is a detailed examination of the soft-bottom benthos of San Francisco Bay. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Game report (1979) entitled "Protection and Restoration of San Francisco Bay Fish and Wildlife Habitat" provides clear recognition of the importance of intertidal and subtidal soft-bottom habitats and their associated organisms to the bay's birds and fishes and to the overall functioning of the estuary. The purpose of this profile is to provide a description of the structure and functioning of the benthic community in San Francisco Bay (exclusive of its tidal marshes, which are discussed by M. Josselyn [1983] in another profile). The habitats covered in this volume include all nonvegetated soft-bottom intertidal and subtidal areas of the bay between the Golden Gate and the mouths of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers to the northeast, and to the southern extremity of the bay.


The profile provides a reference to the scientific information concerning the animals and plants of the bay's benthic communities, their importance to the bay ecosystem, and their value as a resource measured in human terms. Because there have been few process-oriented studies of the benthos of San Francisco Bay (e.g., field and laboratory rate-measurement experiments), the material presented herein is largely descriptive. Nonetheless, we have described the processes that interconnect the various physical, chemical, and biological components of the benthic environment, and the important couplings between this environment and the water column above, with reference to research results from other estuaries where necessary. We consider the role of the benthic community as a food source for fish, aquatic birds, and humans; as a consumer or degrader of organic materials including wastes; as a recycler of minerals and nutrients; and as an accumulator of pollutants.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Title The ecology of the soft-bottom benthos of San Francisco Bay: a community profile
Series title U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Report
Series number 85(7.23)
Year Published 1988
Language English
Publisher U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Publisher location Slidell, LA
Contributing office(s) National Wetlands Research Center, San Francisco Bay-Delta, Pacific Regional Director's Office
Description xi, 73 p.
Country United States
State California
City San Francisco
Other Geospatial Sacramento River;San Francisco Bay;San Joaquin River
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details