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Expert Panel Discusses Salmonid Life Cycle Models could help recovery of salmon and steelhead

April 2011

Despite its media attention, Delta smelt are not the only harbinger of the ecosystem crisis in the Delta. According to Delta Science Program Lead Scientist Dr. Cliff Dahm, a better bellwether on the Delta’s health is salmon and steelhead, which is why he promoted a workshop on the life cycle of salmonids.

“The workshop focused on whether available life cycle models for salmon can be used to better guide water operations for the Delta and the Delta watershed with regards to both individual and multiple species of salmon within the ecosystem,” said Dahm.

At the request of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the Delta Science Program hosted a one-day public workshop on April 13, 2011 to discuss salmonid integrated life cycle models. Those within the Delta Science Program (DSP) say the models are critical tools for understanding the health of salmon and steelhead, as well as managing their recovery within the Delta.


“Life cycle models take into consideration all of the various factors that affect the survival of salmon and steelhead - from eggs laid in the gravel of streams, to the migration of juveniles through the Delta, to growth to adulthood in the ocean, and finally migration back to their natal streams to spawn the next generation,” said DSP Program Manager Sam Harader.

Harader; who oversaw the workshop, says the ever-changing conditions of the salmon’s life-cycle are complex, making them challenging to interpret.

“The importance of life cycle models is that they quantify all of these life stages in one model unlike previous models that only look at survival over a single or a few life stages.”

Experts who are familiar with modeling and the science of salmonids were among the panelists. They included:Quote

• James J. Anderson, University of Washington, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
• Michelle McClure, Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NOAA)
• Kenneth A. Rose, Louisiana State University, Dept. of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences
• Dr. Gregory T. Ruggerone, Vice President, Natural Resources Consultants (NRC)

Details about the workshop can be found here.

Coequal goals

The Delta Stewardship Council was created in legislation to achieve the state mandated coequal goals for the Delta. "'Coequal goals' means the two goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem. The coequal goals shall be achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique cultural, recreational, natural resource, and agricultural values of the Delta as an evolving place." (CA Water Code §85054)