The delta smelt has been considered a bellwether for the health of the Delta for the past two decades. With new regulations from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now in place to protect the tiny threatened species from extinction, protections for its evolutionary cousin, the longfin smelt, may not be far behind.
So how are longfin and delta smelt similar? A comparison of their life history strategies sheds some light.
Rising water demands and water scarcity are a worldwide problem—not simply a California one. Regions in Europe’s Mediterranean basin and Australia are among the areas suffering from irregular water supply and rising water demands.
CALFED Lead Scientist Cliff Dahm recently traveled to Girona, Spain, where experts from around the world gathered to share their views and to suggest strategies at a conference titled “Water Scarcity and Management under Mediterranean Climate.”
Mediterranean climates, such as we have in much of California, present significant water resource challenges worldwide, Dahm said. People living in Mediterranean climates wrestle with the reality of providing water for human use and protecting valuable aquatic ecosystems. Conservation, new water supplies from wastewater reuse and desalinization, as well as groundwater usage, play key and increasing roles in maintaining water availability during dry periods.
Even with the recent freeze, research proposals are still being sought for the 2009 Proposal Solicitation Package—given that grants will not be awarded until later this year.
Because of the state’s current fiscal and cash flow crisis, the Department of Finance (DOF) ordered all state agencies and departments to suspend all projects effective Dec. 19 unless the contracting entity can continue with non-state funding sources. That order affects nearly 5,300 projects and programs, including the CALFED Science Program’s bond-funded research projects.
As required by the state of California, CALFED issued suspensions on December 19, 2008, to recipients of 56 research grants and fellowships totaling $22 million. Research was suspended for management-relevant Bay-Delta priorities such as Chinook salmon and delta smelt population modeling, ammonium effects on Delta food webs, climate change modeling, mercury effects and the impacts of invasive species. Twenty-eight postdoctoral and doctoral students have had their funding suspended. Research teams and groups have had to disband and young scientists are seeking alternative employment.
Scientific research is critical for expanding and improving our understanding of the Bay-Delta ecosystem, which is crucial to inform and support water and ecosystem management actions. An extended break in this research could have tremendous impacts on our ability to continue this learning process and support decision-making.
We’re not sure when this fiscal crisis and cash-flow problem will ease, but we are working diligently to ensure projects can continue as soon as possible. CALFED is committed to keeping grantees and contractors informed as new information becomes available. We sincerely regret the hardships that this suspension has placed on the research community that we support.
What are some of the expected effects of climate change on fish in the Delta?