Document Details

Food Webs of the Delta, Suisun Bay, and Suisun Marsh: An Update on Current Understanding and Possibilities for Management

Anke Mueller–Solger, Sarah Lesmeister, Wim Kimmerer, J. Louise Conrad, Larry R. Brown | October 1, 2016
Summary

This paper reviews recent research findings on food web processes since 2008. It also highlights the idea of a changing baseline with respect to food web function. New research indicates that interactions between habitat-specific food webs vary across the current landscape. For example, based on early work in the south Delta, the food web associated with underwater vegetation was thought to provide little support to species of concern; however, data from other regions of the estuary suggest that this conceptual model may not apply across the entire region.

Habitat restoration has been proposed as a method of re-establishing historic food web processes to support species of concern. Benefits are likely for species that directly access such restored habitats, but are less clear for pelagic species. Several issues require attention to further improve the knowledge of food webs needed to support effective management, including: (1) synthesis of factors responsible for low pelagic biomass; (2) monitoring and research on effects of harmful algal blooms; (3) broadening the scope of long-term monitoring; (4) determining benefits of tidal wetland restoration to species of concern, including evaluations of interactions of habitat-specific food webs; and (5) interdisciplinary analysis and synthesis.

The only certainty is that food webs will continue to change in response to the changes in the physical environment and new species invasions.

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This paper reviews recent research findings on food web processes since 2008. It also highlights the idea of a changing baseline with respect to food web function. New research indicates that interactions between habitat-specific food webs vary across the current landscape. For example, based on early work in the south Delta, the food web associated with underwater vegetation was thought to provide little support to species of concern; however, data from other regions of the estuary suggest that this conceptual model may not apply across the entire region.

Habitat restoration has been proposed as a method of re-establishing historic food web processes to support species of concern. Benefits are likely for species that directly access such restored habitats, but are less clear for pelagic species. Several issues require attention to further improve the knowledge of food webs needed to support effective management, including: (1) synthesis of factors responsible for low pelagic biomass; (2) monitoring and research on effects of harmful algal blooms; (3) broadening the scope of long-term monitoring; (4) determining benefits of tidal wetland restoration to species of concern, including evaluations of interactions of habitat-specific food webs; and (5) interdisciplinary analysis and synthesis.

The only certainty is that food webs will continue to change in response to the changes in the physical environment and new species invasions.

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Keywords:

habitat restoration, invasive species, Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta