California Soul: Multi-scale approaches to explore, assess, and restore California’s freshwater resources. A collaborative session presented in part with the Society for Freshwater Science CA Chapter. (hosted by AFS)

California’s freshwater resources are strongly rooted in the productivity and economic advancement of technical, agricultural, and fisheries related fields. However, these vital resources and the biological communities that are reliant on their persistence are in constant peril from overpopulation, climate change, invasive species, and industrial runoff. Unlike the death of disco, the futures of California’s freshwater resources are not set. The road to recovery and sustainable management of these resources is not a one way road but an interconnected highway requiring development of new approaches for restoration and remediation, the development and incorporation of novel technologies for bio-assessment of aquatic communities, and the collaborative efforts and information sharing between multiple agencies, professionals, and academic disciplines. We present here a symposium that will highlight the current multi-scale undertakings from a diverse representation of agencies, academics, and professionals for the exploration, assessment, and restoration of freshwater corridors and the communities that rely on them. AFS members and participants will gain insight into the endeavors that are currently underway from a small portion of the California scientific community with the shared goal of increasing the information available for sustainable fisheries management.

8:00AM A Coordinated Approach for Developing Statewide Environmental Flow Regulations in California
  Kristine Taniguchi-Quan, Eric Stein, Sarah Yarnell, Julie Zimmerman, Samuel Sandoval Solis, Belize Lane, Jeanette Howard, Theodore E. Grantham, Robert Lusardi
Establishing environmental flow targets is a priority for numerous programs in California. Although methods vary based on the ecological endpoint of management concern (e.g. fish, macroinvertebrates, habitat), stream type, and preferences of the implementing agency, each effort aims to determine flow conditions necessary to protect ecological integrity in light of competing water uses. Unfortunately, lack of coordination among programs and efforts leads to inefficiencies, difficulty in comparing approaches, inability to share outputs, and creates potential for competing recommendations. A statewide technical workgroup consisting of UC Davis, Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, The Nature Conservancy, UC Berkeley, Utah State University, CSU Northridge, California Trout, State Water Resources Control Board, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife has convened to develop a framework for organizing environmental flow analyses across California and providing consistent science-based recommendations for applying appropriate methods to inform setting and managing of environmental flows. We propose a tiered approach that promotes consistency and coordination in establishing, maintaining, and monitoring in-stream flow requirements for California. The overall goal of this effort is to support various regulatory and management agencies in developing and implementing local, regional, and statewide in-stream flow targets to protect aquatic life beneficial uses.
8:20AM Integrating Site-Specific and Regional Datasets to Develop Comprehensive Instream Flow Regime Prescriptions for California’s Fish and Wildlife
  Bronwen Stanford, Amber Villalobos, Lillian McDougall, Robert Holmes
In the face of complex water challenges and limited information on instream flow needs, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is tasked with recommending instream flow regime prescriptions. Many established field methods provide detailed information but are prohibitively expensive at regional or watershed scales. By contrast, many rapid methods establish a single minimum flow that may not adequately protect fish and wildlife. To provide more timely information to water managers and capture instream flow needs throughout the highly variable annual hydrologic regime, we incorporate new tools estimating both natural monthly flows and a broader array of functional flows. We combine these tools with rapid assessment methods and site-specific information to produce comprehensive annual flow regimes. We provide two case studies demonstrating this approach. On the California north coast, where cannabis production is consuming increasing amounts of water, we used a combination of rapid approaches to define potential annual flow regimes. In southern California, we worked with staff managing a regulated stream to recommend flows to achieve both ecological and geomorphic goals. The integration of a variety of rapid methods and new tools with more traditional site-specific methods can produce a suite of flow regimes to meet stream management goals.
8:40AM Using Fish Distribution Data to Select Indicator Species and Develop Ecological Flow Recommendations in California
  Alyssa Obester, Nick Santos, Robert Lusardi, Sarah Yarnell, Ryan Peek
Identifying priority biological outcomes and taxa of concern is a key step in determining ecological flow recommendations. However, data directly linking individual fish species to quantifiable flow metrics are lacking. In order to relate flow metrics to fish community response, we developed an approach that provided a unit (regional assemblages and indicator species) upon which to base flow management recommendations. We performed a spatial k-means clustering analysis on native fish distribution data to regionalize assemblages into smaller units that could be managed based on species similarity. We then identified a subset of species from each assemblage (indicator species) using ordination and clustering of life history and habitat preference traits. Flow-ecology literature and expert opinion were used to develop relationships between hydrological conditions and flow metrics for indicator species within each regional fish assemblage. This method avoids a single-species approach to the development of ecological flow recommendations by using multiple indicator species, and allows for the development of flow recommendations when quantifiable flow-ecology relationships for a particular species are unavailable. Our work provides a methodology for identifying flow-ecology relationships that can be applied to other species across California and elsewhere, and also aids managers in determining ecological flow recommendations.
9:00AM Implementation of a Muti-Partner, Collaborative Effort to Manage and Monitor Post-FIRE Water Quality in a Large Northern California LAKE.
  Angela De Palma-Dow, Sarah Ryan, Richard Muhl, Greg Dills, Amy Little
During summer 2018 the Mendocino Complex wildfire burned over 450,000 acres, geographically the largest fire in California’s post-settlement history. The burn scar was mostly located within the upper watershed of Clear Lake, a 303(d) listed nutrient impaired waterbody in Lake County and the state’s largest freshwater lake. Not only is Clear Lake home to sensitive floral and faunal species and supports traditional Native American uses, but Clear Lake provides drinking water to 40,000 residents and activities such as fishing and recreational boating generate substantial tourism dollars. A multi-partner, interagency collaborative post-fire action plan was immediately implemented to identify 1) locations most likely to contribute post-fire pollutant and sediment loads 2) locations most likely to benefit from on-the-ground best management practices to limit post-fire impacts and, 3) best stream and lake sample sites to monitor post-fire water quality. This paper will discuss development of this effort, specific actions implemented, outcomes, and status of Clear Lake. Conclusions from this effort might be useful to organizations and agencies when partnering and collaborating on management and monitoring in freshwater systems with large or impaired waterbodies, of which current post-fire water quality research is limited.
9:20AM Benthic Macroinvertebrate Drift and Juvenile Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) Diet Response to Experimental Flow Releases on the Trinity River below Lewiston Dam (Northern California)
  Thomas Starkey-Owens, Alison O’Dowd, Kyle De Juilio, Darren Ward, Nicholas A. Som
Benthic macroinvertebrates (BMI) are an important food resource for juvenile salmonids. BMI drift, species composition and abundance are specific to local hydrologic conditions, which can restrict or enhance availability to feeding salmonids. Currently, a knowledge gap exists on the Trinity River (northern California) in how flow releases from Lewiston Dam potentially impact BMI drift and profitable feeding opportunities for juvenile salmonids. We collected samples of BMI drift and diets of juvenile Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) from two sites in the upper Trinity River between February-April 2018, during stable flow conditions (~350 cfs) and two increased flow conditions that peaked at ~1,800 cfs. BMI taxonomic composition of drift and diet samples differed substantially between sites. BMI drift concentration increased significantly with increased flow (p<0.001). However, consumption of BMIs by juvenile Chinook was not proportional to this increase in BMI drift concentration, as juvenile Chinook gut fullness was highly variable between high and low flows (p=0.66). The findings of this study can inform future research and water management on the Trinity River to increase consumption rates and the number of profitable feeding opportunities for juvenile salmonids downstream of Lewiston Dam.
09:40AM Break
10:00AM Evaluating Tradeoffs of Environmental Flows Using Evolutionary Algorithms
  Nicholas Santos, Alyssa Obester, Jay Lund, Sarah Yarnell
Freshwater ecosystems in the United States face a crisis from diversion and alteration of river flows. Understanding how to better manage streams to support ecosystems, the economy, and recreational activities is a major challenge. We are applying algorithms and scientific data, organized and made accessible using web applications, to improve public, policy, and management discussions and implementations of environmental flows. We are developing a pilot project for California, generalizable to elsewhere, of a decision support tool that informs the economic and environmental tradeoffs in flow management decisions. This tool uses optimization approaches to establish promising ranges of environmental flows, which stay in a river to support ecosystems. It builds environment/economic tradeoff curves for expert evaluation and suggests an optimal configuration of flows that balances human needs with ecosystem integrity. Our tool establishes flow ranges for native fish fauna with complete spatial coverage of California and employs existing databases of aquatic fauna, their flow requirements, and river runoff to guide flow needs for each subwatershed. Ultimately, we plan to map results in a web application to support decision-making and public ecosystem and environmental literacy.
10:20AM Restoring and Revitalizing California’s Urban Streams
  Esther Tracy
The Riverine Stewardship Program aims to bridge the gap between the technical and financial assistance needs for the protection of listed fish species in combination with flood risk reduction and ecosystem enhancement of urban streams. As the program embarks onto the uncharted path of providing technical assistance to underserved communities, we aim to maximize the restoration efforts of freshwater corridors and the communities that rely on them.
10:40AM Evaluating the Efficiency of Next Generation Imaging System to Estimate Daily Pulses in Invertebrate Drift Densities in CA Coastal Redwood Streams
  Nicholas Macias, Eric Palkovacs, Eric Danner
Over the past century, standardized methods for quantifying invertebrate drift have been constrained by the cost and time associated with outsourcing sample processing. Imaging systems are becoming more common place for monitoring target organisms in diverse ecosystems. Yet the integration of imaging lotic ecosystems (rivers and streams) has not gained the same traction as in terrestrial, lentic (lakes and reservoirs), or marine environments due to the challenges and costs associated with deploying sensitive imaging equipment under constant barrage of flow conditions. Flow direction and intensity is essential for the transport of biotic and abiotic particles downstream. These unique conditions required the development of a purpose specific imaging system that can be utilized within lotic ecosystems with the capacity to capture high resolution invertebrate images. Invertebrate image counts can then be used as an alternative method to estimate drift density. However, the efficiency of the imaging system to capture daily pulses in density (day vs night) has only begun to be explored. We present here a study that employed a prototype imaging system to address the challenges associated with accurately sampling daily pulses of invertebrate drift under constant flow conditions in streams along California’s redwood coast.
11:00AM Comparing Environmental DNA and Traditional Monitoring Approaches to Assess the Abundance of Outmigrating Coho Salmon in California Coastal Streams.
  Emerson Kanawi
Environmental DNA has the potential to dramatically increase the information available to managers regarding species distribution and abundance. Populations of Coho Salmon in Northern California are listed under the Endangered Species Act as threatened and are a fundamental component of riverine ecosystems. Collection of reliable survey information on fish abundance is essential to monitor population trends and restoration efforts. We examined the feasibility of implementing an environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling program by concurrently estimating eDNA concentration and abundances of outmigrating salmon using traditional monitoring approaches. Water samples, water-quality, and flow information were collected during the Coho Salmon smolt season on two creeks in Humboldt County, CA. Over two spring migration seasons in conjunction with downstream migrant trapping, water samples were collected and filtered through multiple filter types to test differences in DNA yield. Extracted DNA were amplified using qPCR and a species specific assay. Preliminary results indicate high variability of DNA concentration both within sites and between sites for each creek, which resulted in low correlations between eDNA concentrations and traditional abundance estimates. This presentation will focus on the methods, analysis, and results of the study and make recommendations to managers regarding the utility of eDNA monitoring for abundance assessments.

Organizers: Nicholas Macias
Supported by: AFS

Location: Reno-Sparks CC Date: October 2, 2019 Time: 8:00 am - 11:50 am