The southern-most reproducing Longfin Smelt population occurs in the San Francisco Estuary, California, USA. Long-term monitoring of estuarine habitat for this species has generally only considered deep channels, with little known of the role shallow waters play in supporting their early life stage. To address the need for focused research on shallow-water habitat, a targeted study of Longfin Smelt larvae in littoral habitat was conducted to identify potential rearing habitats during 2013 and 2014. Our study objectives were to (1) determine if larval densities vary between littoral habitats (tidal slough vs. open-water shoal), (2) determine how larval densities in littoral habitats vary with physicochemical and biological attributes, (3) determine if larval densities vary between littoral habitats and long-term monitoring channel collections, and (4) determine what factors predict larval rearing distributions from the long-term monitoring channel collections. Larval densities did not vary between littoral habitats but they did vary between years. Water temperature, salinity, and chlorophyll a were found important in predicting larval densities in littoral habitats. Larval densities do not vary between littoral and channel surveys; however, the analysis based on channel data suggests that Longfin Smelt are hatching and rearing in a much broader region and under higher salinities (∼2–12 psu) than previously recognized. Results of this study indicate that conservation efforts should consider how freshwater flow, habitat, climate, and food webs interact as mechanisms that influence Longfin Smelt recruitment in estuarine environments.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Sampling uncharted waters: Examining rearing habitat of larval Longfin Smelt (Spirinchus thaleichthys) in the upper San Francisco Estuary|
|Series title||Estuaries and Coasts|
|Contributing office(s)||California Water Science Center|
|Other Geospatial||San Francisco Bay Estuary|