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Quantifying the effects of tides, river flow, and barriers on movements of Chinook Salmon smolts at junctions in the Sacramento — San Joaquin River Delta using multistate models

June 2, 2022

Successful migration of Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) smolts seaward in the Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta (hereafter, Delta) requires navigating a network of numerous branching channels. Within the Delta, several key junctions route smolts either towards more direct paths to the ocean or towards the interior Delta, an area associated with decreased survival. Movements within these junctions that determine route choice can be influenced by numerous behavioral and environmental factors, including the complex interplay between tidal and riverine hydraulics. Here, we apply continuous time multistate Markov models to examine the influence of tidal and riverine hydraulics, behavioral factors, and management actions on smolt movements. These models incorporate more information from acoustic telemetry data compared with previous approaches to modeling smolt movements in the Delta. By decomposing modeled flows into tidal and net flow signals we elucidate how each component influences movements into and out of distributary channels. Increasing net flows generally increased movement rates, while flood tides decreased seaward movement rates. Similarly, ebb tides increased downstream movements as fish go with the flow. We found less support for diel movement behaviors compared to flow metrics. Additionally, we quantify the effects of a large management action, the placement of a physical barrier, which was effective at decreasing entrainment into the interior Delta. Together, these results help inform management of Chinook Salmon and increase our understanding of the major factors driving smolt movements within these key junctions.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Quantifying the effects of tides, river flow, and barriers on movements of Chinook Salmon smolts at junctions in the Sacramento — San Joaquin River Delta using multistate models
DOI 10.1007/s10641-022-01273-1
Authors Michael Dodrill, Russell Perry, Adam Pope, Xiaochun Wang
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Biology of Fishes
Series Number
Index ID 70231902
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Fisheries Research Center