Chemical Fingerprinting of Delta Smelt for Sensitive Detection in the Environment

Project ID: 21078
Principal Investigator: Daniel Deeds
Research Topic: Fish Passage and Entrainment
Funded Fiscal Years: 2021
Keywords: None

Research Question

This project will verify the chemical responsible for the distinct olfactory signature of Delta Smelt. Variation in the signature produced by individuals and groups and by distinct Delta Smelt life stages will be investigated. Once a chemical signature for Delta Smelt is characterized, in-field experiments in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in collaboration with California Department of Water Resources staff will test the capabilities of state-of-the-science geochemical techniques to detect Delta Smelt in the wild. Chemical fingerprinting will be compared to environmental DNA (eDNA) detection of Delta Smelt already under study by California Department of Water Resources (DWR) staff and UC Davis researchers. This research aims to produce a method for rapid environmental detection of Delta Smelt that will facilitate survey efforts and adaptive maximization of CVP exports without jeopardizing the remaining wild Delta Smelt population.

Need and Benefit

Delta Smelt are a small, ESA-listed fish native to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and upper San Francisco Estuary. Low population density, combined with their preference for turbid, shallow regions of the Delta, make Delta Smelt difficult to find, hindering accurate surveying of the remaining wild population and complicating adaptive management of Central Valley Project pumping operations. It is also common knowledge in the Delta science community that Delta Smelt smell like cucumber.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20