Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Fewer and Farther between: Changes in the Timing of Longfin Smelt (Spirinchus thaleichthys) Movements in the San Francisco Estuary

Version 1 : Received: 20 January 2021 / Approved: 25 January 2021 / Online: 25 January 2021 (15:11:52 CET)

How to cite: Tobias, V.; Baxter, R. Fewer and Farther between: Changes in the Timing of Longfin Smelt (Spirinchus thaleichthys) Movements in the San Francisco Estuary. Preprints 2021, 2021010512 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202101.0512.v1). Tobias, V.; Baxter, R. Fewer and Farther between: Changes in the Timing of Longfin Smelt (Spirinchus thaleichthys) Movements in the San Francisco Estuary. Preprints 2021, 2021010512 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202101.0512.v1).

Abstract

Abundance of estuarine fish species has declined globally. In the San Francisco Estuary (SFE), long-term monitoring documented declines of many species including the anadromous species Longfin Smelt (Spirinchus thaleichthys). To improve management and recovery planning, we identified patterns in the timing, seasonal occupancy, and distribution of Longfin Smelt in a monitoring study (San Francisco Bay Study) for five regions of the SFE using a generalized additive model. We then investigated the year-to-year variability in the shape of the seasonal relationships using functional data analysis (FDA). FDA separated the variability due to population size from variability due to differences in occupancy timing. We found that Longfin Smelt have a consistent seasonal distribution pattern, that two trawl types were needed to accurately describe the pattern, and that the pattern is largely consistent with the hypothesized conceptual model. After accounting for variability in occupancy due to year-class strength, the timing of occupancy has shifted in three regions. The most variable period for the upstream regions Suisun Bay and Confluence was age-0 summer and for the downstream region Central Bay, was age-0 late fall. This manifested as a recent delay in the typical fall re-occupation of upstream regions, reducing Longfin Smelt abundance as calculated by another monitoring study (Fall Midwater Trawl); thus, a portion of recent reductions in Fall Midwater Trawl abundance of Longfin Smelt result from changes in behavior rather than a decline in abundance. The presence of multiple monitoring surveys allowed analysis of distribution from one data set to interpret patterns in abundance of another. Future investigations will examine environmental conditions as covariates during these periods and could improve our understanding of what conditions contribute to the shifting occupancy timing of Longfin Smelt, and possibly provide insight into the long-term quality of the San Francisco Estuary as habitat.

Keywords

fish; functional data analysis; long-term monitoring; habitat; occupancy; modeling; California

Subject

BIOLOGY, Anatomy & Morphology

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