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Delta smelt habitat in the San Francisco Estuary: A reply to Manly, Fullerton, Hendrix, and Burnham’s “Comments on Feyrer et al. Modeling the effects of future outflow on the abiotic habitat of an imperiled estuarine fish"

September 1, 2016

Manly et al. (2015) commented on the approach we (Feyrer et al. 2011) used to calculate an index of the abiotic habitat of delta smelt Hypomesus transpacificus. The delta smelt is an annual fish species endemic to the San Francisco Estuary (SFE) in California, USA. Conserving the delta smelt population while providing reliability to California’s water supply with water diverted from the SFE ecosystem is a major management and policy issue. Feyrer et al. (2011) evaluated historic and projected future abiotic habitat conditions for delta smelt. Manly et al. (2015) specifically commented regarding the following: (1) use of an independent abundance estimate, (2) spatial bias in the habitat index, and (3) application of the habitat index to future climate change projections. Here, we provide our reply to these three topics. While we agree that some of the concepts raised by Manly et al. (2015) have the potential to improve habitat assessments and their application to climate change scenarios as knowledge is gained, we note that the Feyrer et al. (2011) delta smelt habitat index is essentially identical to one reconstructed using Manly et al.’s (2015) preferred approach (their model 8), as shown here in Fig. 1.

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