Estuary News

September 2020

Science in Short ~ Podcast

Conversations with scientists actively doing research in the San Francisco Estuary. 

David Ayers: How Fish Interact with Wetlands Topography 

In this podcast, Estuary News reporter Alastair Bland and UC Davis PhD student and fish researcher David Ayers discuss the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, its fish, its marshlands, its flows, and its future. Ayers explains the focus of his research, which seeks to reveal how underwater topography in the wetlands fringing the estuary affects interactions between predators and small fish. While restoration projects often focus on adding more water to this ecosystem and encouraging that water to overflow the river’s banks, Ayers says small fish need more than just water and wetlands to survive. Variation in habitat features, such as the width and depth of wetland channels that wind through these ecosystems, create a complex, dynamic habitat and may offer juvenile Chinook salmon and Delta smelt better odds at evading predators like striped bass, largemouth bass, and channel catfish, and, in the long term, better odds at surviving as species. 

About David Ayers

David Ayers is a PhD student in the Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology Department at the University of California, Davis. Ayers graduated from the University of Idaho in 2009 and arrived in the Sacramento San-Joaquin Delta in 2014. He quickly became intrigued by the region’s complex ecological challenges. Later, in 2018, he joined Andrew Rypel’s Aquatic Ecology lab at UC Davis and initiated a project to investigate fish habitat use in the Delta. Ayers recently received a Delta Science Fellowship, a competitive grant hosted by the Delta Science Program and the State Water Contractors. This award allows researchers to investigate key topics related to water management and ecosystem health in the San Francisco Bay-Delta. Overall, Ayers’ research focuses on understanding how aquatic habitats structure ecological processes and influence fish distribution, habitat use and predation dynamics. Ultimately, he hopes to generate findings which can help optimize habitat restoration activities and achieve conservation goals for native fishes in the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta.

SCIENCE IN SHORT is co-produced by Estuary News and Maven’s Notebook, with support from the Delta Stewardship Council. Music courtesy Joel Kreisberg & Art Swisklocki. We are experimenting podcasting. Bear with us while we learn!

Co-published here on Maven’s Notebook.

In an effort to make science more conversational, these podcasts include thoughts and opinions on the part of scientists that are occasionally personal or informal. As such, these podcasts do not reflect the opinions or goals of their employers, institutions, or funders. 

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About the author

A native to San Francisco, Alastair Bland is a freelance journalist who writes about water policy in California, rivers and salmon, marine conservation and climate change. His work has appeared at NPR.org, Smithsonian.com, Yale Environment 360 and News Deeply, among many other outlets. When he isn't writing, Alastair is likely riding his bicycle uphill as fast as he can.

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