Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 567–579 | Cite as

Seasonal Movement Patterns of Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis) in Their Nonnative Range

  • Megan C. SabalEmail author
  • Cyril J. Michel
  • Joseph M. Smith
  • Andrew Hampton
  • Sean A. Hayes


Movement dynamics of nonnative species can change in new environments and differ from native populations. It has been more than 100 years since striped bass (Morone saxatilis) were introduced to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River system in California from the US east coast. Acoustic telemetry from 2011 to 2015 was used to examine striped bass seasonal residence patterns in their nonnative range across three regions—bay, delta and rivers, and the effect of fish length and release river (Sacramento River [SR] vs. Feather River [FR]) on movement. In spring, SR striped bass (n = 52) increased travel speed by 39% and river residence by 63% relative to other seasons, which is consistent with spawning migrations. In summer, SR striped bass spent the most time in the bay (mean = 28.2 ± 30.9 days) relative to other seasons and across regions. In winter, 87% of striped bass were detected in the delta over 42% in the bay and 25% in the river. Release river also affected movement behaviors—FR striped bass (n = 11) spent more time in the river in all seasons compared to SR bass. Striped bass with sufficient tag life (n = 17) traveled farther distances in 365 days (mean = 1248 ± 405 km, range: 641–2212 km) with increasing fish length. Seasonal patterns observed appeared to follow seasonal prey sources throughout the San Francisco Estuary. Individual behaviors, however, were highly variable, and this flexibility may be an important trait that has allowed striped bass to persist in their nonnative range.


Striped bass California Movement Migration Seasonality Tagging 



We thank the many biologists and technicians who assisted with field work maintaining acoustic receivers and tagging striped bass, including but not limited to: Zach Amidon, Arnold Ammann, Julie Day, Nick Demetras, Allison Jehly, Ryon Kurth, Brendan Lehman, Jeremy Notch, Nicolas Retford, and Andrew Sobieraj. We also thank all the scientists who have contributed to the California Fish Tracking Consortium. We would also like to thank NMFS-SWFSC for logistical support and staff time. The constructive comments from two anonymous reviewers greatly improved the quality of the manuscript.

Funding Information

The California Department of Water Resources and US Bureau of Reclamation funded this work.


  1. Able, K.W., T.M. Grothues, J. Turnure, D.M. Byrne, and P. Clerkin. 2012. Distribution, movements, and habitat use of small striped bass (Morone saxatilis) across multiple spatial scales. Fishery Bulletin 2: 176–192.Google Scholar
  2. Ajemian, M.J., K.S. Mendenhall, J.B. Pollack, M.S. Wetz, and G.W. Stunz. 2018. Moving forward in a reverse estuary: Habitat use and movement patterns of black drum (Pogonias cromis) under distinct hydrological regimes. Estuaries and Coasts. Estuaries and coasts: 1–12.
  3. Andrews, S.N., B. Wallace, M. Gautreau, T. Linnansaari, and R.A. Curry. 2018. Seasonal movements of striped bass Morone saxatilis in a large tidal and hydropower regulated river. Environmental Biology of Fishes 1957. Environmental Biology of Fishes: 1549–1558.
  4. Arostegui, M.C., J.M. Smith, A.N. Kagley, D. Spilsbury-Pucci, K.L. Fresh, and T.P. Quinn. 2017. Spatially clustered movement patterns and segregation of subadult Chinook salmon within the Salish Sea. Marine and Coastal Fisheries 9. Taylor & Francis: 1–12.
  5. Calhoun, A.J. 1952. Annual migrations of California striped bass. California Department of Fish and Game: 391–403.Google Scholar
  6. Callihan, J.L., C.H. Godwin, and J.A. Buckel. 2014. Effect of demography on spatial distribution: Movement patterns of the Albemarle sound-Roanoke river stock of striped bass (Morone saxatilis) in relation to their recovery. Fishery Bulletin 112 (2-3): 131–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Campbell, H.A., M.E. Watts, R.G. Dwyer, and C.E. Franklin. 2012. V-track: Software for analysing and visualising animal movement from acoustic telemetry detections. Marine and Freshwater Research 63 (9): 815–820. Scholar
  8. Chadwick, H.K. 1967. Recent migrations of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River striped bass population. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 96 (3): 327–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chamberlin, J.W., A.N. Kagley, K.L. Fresh, and T.P. Quinn. 2011. Movements of yearling Chinook Salmon during the first summer in marine waters of hood canal, Washington. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 140 (2): 429–439. Scholar
  10. Cloern, J.E. 1996. Phytoplankton bloom dynamics in coastal ecosystems: A review with some general lessons from sustained investigation of San Francisco Bay, California. Reviews of Geophysics 34 (2): 127–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cloern, J.E., and A.D. Jassby. 2012. Drivers of change in estuarine - coastal ecosystems: Discoveries from four decades of study in San Francisco Bay. Reviews in Geophysics 50: 1–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Collette, B.B., and G. Klein-MacPhee (eds.) 2002. Bigelow and schroeder’s fishes of the gulf of Maine, 3rd ed. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Inst. Press. 748 p.Google Scholar
  13. Croll, D.A., B. Marinovic, S. Benson, F.P. Chavez, N. Black, R. Ternullo, and B.R. Tershy. 2005. From wind to whales: Trophic links in a coastal upwelling system. Marine Ecology Progress Series 289: 117–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Daley, R.K., A. Williams, M. Green, B. Barker, and P. Brodie. 2015. Can marine reserves conserve vulnerable sharks in the deep sea? A case study of Centrophorus zeehaani (Centrophoridae), examined with acoustic telemetry. Deep-Sea Research Part II 115. Elsevier: 127–136.
  15. DeCelles, G.R., and S.X. Cadrin. 2010. Movement patterns of winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus) in the southern gulf of Maine: Observations with the use of passive acoustic telemetry. Fishery Bulletin 108: 408–419.Google Scholar
  16. Dorazio, R.M., K.A. Hattala, C.B. McCollough, and J.E. Skjeveland. 1994. Tag recovery estimates of migration of striped bass from spawning areas of the Chesapeake Bay. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 123 (6): 950–963.<0950:TREOMO>2.3.CO;2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dwyer, R.G., M.E. Watts, H.A. Campbell, and C.E. Franklin. 2012. Package ‘VTrack”.’ R package.Google Scholar
  18. Feyrer, F., M.L. Nobriga, and T.R. Sommer. 2007. Multidecadal trends for three declining fish species: Habitat patterns and mechanisms in the San Francisco estuary, California, USA. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 734: 723–734.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Feyrer, F., J.E. Cloern, M.A. Fish, K.A. Hieb, and R.D. Baxter. 2015. Estuarine fish communities respond to climate variability over both river and ocean basins. Global Change Biology 21 (10): 3608–3619.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gahagan, B.I., D.A. Fox, and D.H. Secor. 2015. Partial migration of striped bass: Revisiting the contingent hypothesis. Marine Ecology Progress Series 525: 185–197. Scholar
  21. Jonzén, N., E. Knudsen, R.D. Holt, and B. Saether. 2011. Chapter 7: Uncertainty and predictability: The niches of migrants and nomads. In Animal migration: A synthesis, ed. E.J. Milner-Gulland, J.M. Fryxell, and A.R.E. Sinclair, 91–109. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Kennedy, C.G., M.E. Mather, J.M. Smith, J.T. Finn, and L.A. Deegan. 2016. Discontinuities concentrate mobile predators: Quantifying organism – Environment interactions at a seascape scale. Ecosphere 7: 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Keyser, F.M., J.E. Broome, R.G. Bradford, B. Sanderson, and A.M. Redden. 2016. Winter presence and temperature-related diel vertical migration of striped bass (Morone saxatilis) in an extreme high-flow passage in the inner bay of Fundy. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 1786: 1–10.Google Scholar
  24. Kjelson, M.A., P.F. Raquel, and F.W. Fisher. 1982. Life history of fall-run juvenile Chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, in the Sacramento-San Joaquin estuary, California. Estuarine Comparisons: 393–411.Google Scholar
  25. Kraus, R.T., D.H. Secor, and R.L. Wingate. 2015. Testing the thermal-niche oxygen-squeeze hypothesis for estuarine striped bass. Environmental Biology of Fishes 98 (10): 2083–2092.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Le Doux-Bloom, C.M. 2012. Distribution, habitat use, and movement patterns of sub-adult striped bass. University of California Davis.Google Scholar
  27. Lima, S.L. 2002. Putting predators back into behavioral predator–prey interactions. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 17 (2): 70–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lindley, S.T., and M.S. Mohr. 2002. Modeling the effect of striped bass (Morone saxatilis) on the population viability of Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Fishery Bulletin 101: 321–331.Google Scholar
  29. Loboschefsky, E., G. Benigno, T.R. Sommer, K. Rose, T. Ginn, A. Massoudieh, and F. Loge. 2012. Individual-level and population-level historical prey demand of San Francisco estuary striped bass using a bioenergetics model. San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science 10: 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mac Nally, R., J.R. Thomson, W.J. Kimmerer, F. Feyrer, K.B. Newman, A. Sih, W.A. Bennett, et al. 2010. Analysis of pelagic species decline in the upper San Francisco estuary using multivariate autoregressive modeling (MAR). Ecological Applications 20: 1417–1430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mather, M.E., J.T. Finn, S.M. Pautzke, D. Fox, T. Savoy, H.M. Brundage, L.A. Deegan, and R.M. Muth. 2010. Diversity in destinations, routes and timing of small adult and sub-adult striped bass Morone saxatilis on their southward autumn migration. Journal of Fish Biology 77 (10): 2326–2337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. McIntyre, N.E., and J.A. Wiens. 1999. Interactions between landscape structure and animal behavior: The roles of heterogeneously distributed resources and food deprivation on movement patterns. Landscape Ecology 14 (5): 437–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Morales, J.M., P.R. Moorcroft, J. Matthiopoulos, J.L. Frair, J.G. Kie, R.A. Powell, E.H. Merrill, and D.T. Haydon. 2010. Building the bridge between animal movement and population dynamics. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences 365 (1550): 2289–2301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Morissette, O., F. Lecomte, G. Verreault, M. Legault, and P. Sirois. 2015. Fully equipped to succeed: Migratory contingents seen as an intrinsic potential for striped bass to exploit a heterogeneous environment early in life. Estuaries and Coasts: 571–582.Google Scholar
  35. Nathan, R., W.M. Getz, E. Revilla, M. Holyoak, R. Kadmon, D. Saltz, and P.E. Smouse. 2008. A movement ecology paradigm for unifying organismal movement research. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105 (49): 19052–19059.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nelson, G.A., M.P. Armstrong, J. Stritzel-Thomson, and K.D. Friedland. 2010. Thermal habitat of striped bass (Morone saxatilis) in coastal waters of northern Massachusetts, USA, during summer. Fisheries Oceanography 19 (5): 370–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Nichols, F.H., J.E. Cloern, S.N. Luoma, and D.H. Peterson. 1986. The modification of an estuary. Science 231 (4738): 567–573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nobriga, M.L., and F. Feyrer. 2008. Diet composition in San Francisco estuary striped bass: Does trophic adaptability have its limits? Environmental Biology of Fishes 83 (4): 495–503. Scholar
  39. North, E.W., and E.D. Houde. 2001. Retention of white perch and striped bass larvae biological- physical interactions in Chesapeake Bay estuarine turbidity maximum. Estuaries 24 (5): 756–769.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Peterson, A.T. 2003. Predicting the geography of species’ invasions via ecological niche modeling. The Quarterly Review of Biology 78 (4): 419–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Prentis, P.J., J.R.U. Wilson, E.E. Dormontt, D.M. Richardson, and A.J. Lowe. 2008. Adaptive evolution in invasive species. Trends in Plant Science 13 (6): 288–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Quinn, T.P., M.T. Kinnison, and M.J. Unwin. 2001. Evolution of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) populations in New Zealand: Pattern, rate, and process. Genetica 112–113: 493–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. R Development Core Team. 2017. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna, Austria.Google Scholar
  44. Rohde, J., A.N. Kagley, K.L. Fresh, F.A. Goetz, and T.P. Quinn. 2013. Partial migration and diel movement patterns in Puget Sound Coho salmon. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 142 (6): 1615–1628. Scholar
  45. Sabal, M., S. Hayes, J. Merz, and J. Setka. 2016. Habitat alterations and a nonnative predator, the striped bass, increase native Chinook Salmon mortality in the central valley, California. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 36 (2): 309–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Scofield, E.C. 1931. The striped bass of California (Roccus lineatus). Division of Fish and Game of California Report: Fish Bulletin No. 29.Google Scholar
  47. Secor, D.H. 1999. Specifying divergent migrations in the concept of stock: The contingent hypothesis. Fisheries Research 43 (1-3): 13–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Secor, D.H., and P.M. Piccoli. 2007. Oceanic migration rates of upper Chesapeake Bay striped bass (Morone saxatilis), determined by otolith microchemical analysis. Fishery Bulletin 105: 62–73.Google Scholar
  49. Secor, D.H., J.R. Rooker, E. Zlokovitz, and V.S. Zdanowicz. 2001. Identification of riverine, estuarine, and coastal contingents of Hudson River striped bass based upon otolith elemental fingerprints. Marine Ecology Progress Series 211: 245–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Stevens, D.E., D.W. Kohlhorst, L.W. Miller, and W. Kelley. 1985. The decline of striped bass in the Sacramento-San Joaquin estuary, California. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 114 (1): 12–30.<12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Turner, J.L. 1976. Striped bass spawning in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers in Central California from 1963 to 1972. California Fish and Game 62: 106–118.Google Scholar
  52. Turner, Jerry L., and Harold K. Chadwick. 1972. Distribution and abundance of young-of-the-year striped bass, Morone saxatilis, in relation to river flow in the Sacramento-San Joaquin estuary. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 101 (3): 442–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. USFWS. 2011. Standards for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National INAD Program. Bozeman, MT 59715.Google Scholar
  54. Winder, L., C.J. Alexander, J.M. Holland, C. Woolley, and J.N. Perry. 2001. Modelling the dynamic spatio-temporal response of predators to transient prey patches in the field. Ecology Letters 4 (6): 568–576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wingate, R.L., D.H. Secor, and R.T. Kraus. 2011. Seasonal patterns of movement and residency by striped bass within a subestuary of the Chesapeake Bay. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 140 (6): 1441–1450. Scholar
  56. Zeug, S.C., F.V. Feyrer, A. Brodsky, and J. Melgo. 2017. Piscivore diet response to a collapse in pelagic prey populations. Environmental Biology of Fishes 100: 947–958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Megan C. Sabal
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cyril J. Michel
    • 2
    • 3
  • Joseph M. Smith
    • 4
  • Andrew Hampton
    • 5
  • Sean A. Hayes
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of California Santa CruzSanta CruzUSA
  2. 2.Cooperative Institute for Marine Ecosystems and Climate (CIMEC) Award number: 22694-443861University of California Santa CruzSanta CruzUSA
  3. 3.Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries ServiceNational Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationSanta CruzUSA
  4. 4.National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Fish Ecology DivisionPoint Adams Research StationHammondUSA
  5. 5.Division Feather River ProgramPacific States Marine Fisheries CommissionOrovilleUSA
  6. 6.Northeast Fisheries Science CenterNational Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationWoods HoleUSA

Personalised recommendations