Climate change is projected to lead to more frequent and severe droughts in California.
Increased frequency and severity of droughts threatens California’s endangered salmon population—but pools that serve as drought refuges could make the difference between life and death for these vulnerable fish, according to a study by researchers from UC Berkeley and California Sea Grant. The research could help resource managers strategically protect and restore salmon habitat.
The new study, published in the journal Global Change Biology, tracked nearly 20,000 tagged fish in Sonoma County streams over a seven-year period from 2011 to 2017. The Russian River watershed is home to a highly endangered population of coho salmon, which nearly collapsed in the early 2000’s, but has been recovering since then through a conservation hatchery program and other efforts.
“We were able to measure survival during this historic drought, which will help us understand how future droughts will impact this population of salmon,” says University of Wisconsin- La Crosse Assistant Professor Ross Vander Vorste, who conducted the analysis for the study as a UC Berkeley postdoctoral researcher in collaboration with California Sea Grant’s Russian River Salmon and Steelhead Monitoring Program.
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