Effects of local delta habitat structure on salmonid carrying capacity

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Woody debris, low tide pools (including beaver pools), and reference levels of tidal channel geometry all cumulatively affect rearing capacity for juvenile salmon.

Specific habitat attributes have been suggested to affect rearing capacity for juvenile salmon. The processes necessary to form these structures may or may not be present at a site in restoration, preventing development of full habitat function. On the other hand, costly habitat enhancement may or may not provide anticipated value for the investment if implemented without evidence or evaluation. Predicting the effect of habitat characteristics on salmonid rearing capacity can inform the costs and benefits of habitat enhancement or the potential for enhancement to offset permanent loss of estuarine area or to meaningfully accelerate recovery. However, use of density estimates alone to evaluate the effects of localized structures is fraught with statistical and conceptual hurdles, like density dependence and connectivity gradients that make the inference of benefits difficult.

Delta Strategy Analysis

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The uncertainties in how this topic affects delta restoration has resulted in its inclusion in the ESRP River Delta Adaptive Management Strategy. This three criteria analysis should build off the analysis above, and supports development of learning projects.

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