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Tidal effects on marsh habitat use by three fishes in the San Francisco Estuary
Colombano, D.D.; Donovan, J.M.; Ayers, D.E.; O’Rear, T.A.; Moyle, P.B. (2020). Tidal effects on marsh habitat use by three fishes in the San Francisco Estuary. Environ. Biol. Fish. 103(5): 605-623.
In: Environmental Biology of Fishes. Junk: The Hague. ISSN 0378-1909; e-ISSN 1573-5133, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Marine/Coastal; Brackish water; Fresh water

Authors  Top 
  • Colombano, D.D.
  • Donovan, J.M.
  • Ayers, D.E.
  • O’Rear, T.A.
  • Moyle, P.B.

    Little is known about the ecological importance of low-order tidal marsh channels to fishes in the San Francisco Estuary, California. We conducted a passive mark-recapture study to compare residency, site fidelity, and movement patterns of fishes in a small intertidal channel (0.1 km2) in a large tidal marsh reserve (4.25 km2). We coupled continuous, high-frequency data on movements of fish tagged with Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags and abiotic conditions from a PIT-detector and datasonde, respectively. Novel insights were gained by employing TidalTrend, a software program that characterizes tidal time-series data for ecological interpretation. Overall, we found that fishes exhibited different patterns of intertidal habitat use: the resident species, tule perch (Hysterocarpus traski), consistently spent more time per visit, per day, and per season using the intertidal channel, except during the reproductive window in spring; the transient species, Sacramento splittail (Pogonichthys macrolepidotus) and striped bass (Morone saxatilis), were more opportunistic and exhibited higher individual variation in movement patterns. Generalized additive mixed models indicated that tide height, rate of change in tide height, tidal inequality, time of day, lunar phase, and water temperature better predicted fish detections than other variables, but their effects varied across species. Based on our findings, we posit that time, through tides, allows habitat partitioning among fish species and individuals with different life-history types. Furthermore, functional connectivity between subtidal and intertidal channels in tidal marshes is a feature of the estuarine mosaic that should be integrated into habitat restoration designs in the San Francisco Estuary.

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