, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 311-324

The influence of climate on mechanistic pathways that affect lower food web production in Northern San Francisco Bay estuary

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Abstract

Significant coherence among time series of environmental and biological production variables suggested mechanistic pathways through which climate contributed to the downward shift in estuarine production (biomass) in northern San Francisco Bay estuary, 1975–1993. Climate directly and indirectly affected physical processes in the estuary through precipitation and its subsequent impact on streamflow and physical variables affected by streamflow. Climate also directly influenced air temperature and wind velocity. The influence if climate was evaluated through a climate index based on sea level pressure. A shift in this climate index in the early 1980s coincided with changes in many environmental variables including water transparency, water temperature, wind velocity, and rainfall. These physical changes were accompanied by a decrease in diatom, total zooplankton, andNeomysis mercedis carbon at the base of the food web throughout the estuary. Box-Jenkins time series coherence analysis was used to quantify associations among these physical, chemical, and biological time series for nine regions of the estuary. These associations were used to develop a conceptual model of mechanistic pathways that directly linked food web carbon production to climate. Strong coherence among diatom, zooplankton, andN. mercedis carbon time series suggested climate also had an indirect impact on food web production through trophic cascade. Differing mechanistic pathways among the nine regions of the estuary suggested climate was an important contributor to the spatial variability in total food web production and trophic structure.