Innovative Management Options to Prevent Loss of Ecosystem Services Provided by Chinook Salmon in California: Overcoming the Effects of Climate Change

EPA Grant Number: R833017
Title: Innovative Management Options to Prevent Loss of Ecosystem Services Provided by Chinook Salmon in California: Overcoming the Effects of Climate Change
Investigators: Moyle, Peter , Thompson, Lisa C , Purkey, David , Yates, David
Current Investigators: Moyle, Peter , Thompson, Lisa C , Truan, Melanie L. , Mosser, Christopher M , Engilis Jr., Andrew , Purkey, David , Escobar, Marisa
Institution: University of California - Davis , Stockholm Environmental Institute , National Center for Atmospheric Research
Current Institution: University of California - Davis , Stockholm Environmental Institute
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: October 1, 2007 through September 30, 2010 (Extended to September 30, 2011)
Project Amount: $722,963
RFA: Nonlinear Responses to Global Change in Linked Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems and Effects of Multiple Factors on Terrestrial Ecosystems: A Joint Research Solicitation- EPA, DOE (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Global Climate Change , Ecosystems , Climate Change


An integrated water resources management model (WEAP21) will be used to simulate potential changes in flow and temperature in the salmon spawning reaches of Butte Creek, California, in response to climate change. The resulting data will be used to drive a fish population model (SALMOD) that simulates response to changing environmental conditions, including threshold effects on survival. Literature reviews, field surveys and an expert panel will be used to develop a conceptual model of the impacts of changes in the salmon nutrient subsidy to terrestrial wildlife.


Our basic objective is to determine the flow and temperature thresholds that lead to long-tenn losses or reductions in spring-run Chinook salmon in Bune Creek. H1: Climate induced changes in flow and temperatures in Butte Creek will lead to critical reductions in the available habitat of spring-run Chinook salmon. H2: The loss/reduction of Chinook salmon has the potential to reduce the diversity and abundance of salmon-dependent birds and mammals in the riparian corridor. Our final objective is to evaluate management options to ameliorate these impacts.


Our approach to assessing non-linear and threshold responses to gradual climate change on spring-run Chinook and dependent terrestrial ecosystem services will be both analytical and expert-panel based. The primary, linked analytical models are WEAP2l - an integrated watershed hydrology, water and irrigation management, and waler quality model and SALMOD- a population dynamics model that predicts the growth, survival, movement, and habitat choice of salmon in freshwater systems, from spawning through embryo, juvenile, and smolt life stages, based on water quantity and quality conditions. Model results, along with the knowledge base of our study team, will provide information for expert panels in Years 2 and 3 of the project. These experts help us to evaluate potential impacts of climate change and of management policies to address these impacts.

Expected Results:

Include greater insight into the sustainability of spring-run Chinook salmon and their role in defining the terrestrial biodiversity of the riparian corridor. Bringing climate change to bear on the issues will determine environmental thresholds that will also be decision making thresholds. We will provide various stakeholder and management groups with a set of tools and new information to help determine: (1) if salmon are in increased danger from climate change; (2) if there are strategies to save the fish and fish-dependent wildlife species from climate change effects; and (3) when and how these strategies can be implemented. The analytical process and expert panel opinion will lead to: 1) possible water management strategies to counter climate change impacts on stream ecosystems and the services they provide; 2) an understanding of the potential tradeoffs between services provided by water diversion versus services provided by water left in the stream.

Analytical tools developed will be made available to the research and water management communities. Dr. Lisa Thompson (Co-PI), who has an appointment in the UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE), will extend academic information about Califomia inland fisheries to stakeholders such as private landowners and govemment officials. David Purkey and David Yates have worked with the USEPA Office of Research and Development to extend the WEAP2 l modeling framework to incorporate climate change, used in the recent California Governors Report on Climate Change ( Thus, the results of this work will be relevant for water management decision-makers far beyond the Butte Creek basin.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 26 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 1 journal articles for this project

Relevant Websites:

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2008 Progress Report
  • 2009 Progress Report
  • 2010 Progress Report
  • Final Report