Food web conceptual model

Interagency Ecological Program Technical Report 91
By: , and 



This chapter describes a general model of food webs within tidal wetlands and represents how physical features of the wetland affect the structure and function of the food web. This conceptual model focuses on how the food web provides support for (or may reduce support for) threatened fish species. This model is part of a suite of conceptual models designed to guide monitoring of restoration sites throughout the San Francisco Estuary (SFE), but particularly within the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) and Suisun Marsh. The conceptual models have been developed based on the Delta Regional Ecosystem Restoration Implementation Plan (DRERIP) models, and are designed to aid in the identification and evaluation of monitoring metrics for tidal wetland restoration projects.

Many tidal restoration sites in the Delta are being constructed to comply with environmental regulatory requirements associated with the operation of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project. These include the Biological Opinions for Delta Smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus) and salmonids (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2008; National Marine Fisheries Service 2009), and the Incidental Take Permit for Longfin Smelt (Spirinchus thaleichthyes) (California Department of Fish and Wildlife 2009).

These regulatory requirements are based on the hypothesis that the decline of listed fish species is due in part to a decline in productivity of the food web (phytoplankton and zooplankton in particular) or alterations in the food web such that production is consumed by other species in the Estuary (Sommer et al. 2007; Baxter et al. 2010; Brown et al. 2016a). Intertidal wetlands and shallow subtidal habitat can be highly productive, so restoring areas of tidal wetlands may result in a net increase in productivity that will provide food web support for these fish species. However, other factors such as invasive bivalves that reduce phytoplankton and zooplankton biomass and invasive predatory fishes that may compete with or prey upon listed fishes can limit the utility of tidal wetlands for food web support (Lucas and Thompson 2012; Herbold et al. 2014).

This model utilizes information from the previous DRERIP models for Delta food webs (Durand 2008) and tidal wetlands (Kneib et al. 2008), an updated DRERIP model (Durand 2015), and the State of BayDelta Science 2016 review of recent Delta food web literature (Brown et al. 2016a).

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Title Food web conceptual model
Series title Interagency Ecological Program Technical Report
Series number 91
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher California Department of Water Resources
Contributing office(s) California Water Science Center
Description 38 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype Other Government Series
Larger Work Title Effects of tidal wetland restoration on fish: A suite of conceptual models
First page 143
Last page 180
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details