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Gilbreath, A.; McKee, L.; Shimabuku, I.; Lin, D.; Werbowski, L. M.; Zhu, X.; Grbic, J.; Rochman, C. 2019. Multi-year water quality performance and mass accumulation of PCBs, mercury, methylmercury, copper and microplastics in a bioretention rain garden. Journal of Sustainable Water in the Built Environment 5 (4) . SFEI Contribution No. 872.

A multiyear water quality performance study of a bioretention rain garden located along a major urban transit corridor east of San Francisco Bay was conducted to assess the efficacy of bioretention rain gardens to remove pollutants. Based on data collected in three years between 2012 and 2017, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and suspended sediment concentrations (SSCs) were reduced (>90%), whereas total mercury (Hg), methylmercury (MeHg), and copper (Cu) were moderately captured (37%, 49%, and 68% concentration reduction, respectively). Anthropogenic microparticles including microplastics were retained by the bioretention rain garden, decreasing in concentration from 1.6 particles/L to 0.16 particles/L. Based on subsampling at 50- and 150-mm intervals in soil cores from two areas of the unit, PCBs, Hg, and MeHg were all present at the highest concentrations in the upper 100 mm in the surface media layers. Based on residential screening concentrations, the surface media layer near the inlet would need to be removed and replaced annually, whereas the rest of the unit would need replacement every 8 years. The results of this study support the use of bioretention in the San Francisco Bay Area as one management option for meeting load reductions required by San Francisco Bay total maximum daily loads, and provide useful data for supporting decisions about media replacement and overall maintenance schedules.

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Davis, J. A.; Richardson, C. J. 1987. Natural and artificial wetland ecosystems - ecological opportunities and limitations. In Aquatic Plants for Water Treatment and Resource Recovery. K.R., R., Smith, W. H., Eds.. Aquatic Plants for Water Treatment and Resource Recovery. University of Florida: Gainesville, FL.
SFEI; Safran, S. M. 2014. Natural Flow Hydrodynamic Modeling Technology Support Phase 1 Technical Memorandum.

This technical memorandum summarizes the work to date carried out by the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) to generate a bathymetric-topographic digital elevation model (DEM) of the historical Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (representative of early 1800s conditions). The historical DEM described in this document is an interim/draft product completed for Phase I of the Bay-Delta Natural Flow Hydrodynamics and Salinity Transport modeling project. It is expected that the product and methods described here will be refined during a second phase of the project.

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Spotswood, E.; Benjamin, M.; Stoneburner, L.; Wheeler, M. 2021. Nature inequity and higher COVID-19 case rates in less green neighbourhoods in the United States. Nature Sustainability 4 (10).

Nature inequity and higher COVID-19 case rates in less green neighbourhoods in the United StatesUrban nature—such as greenness and parks—can alleviate distress and provide space for safe recreation during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, nature is often less available in low-income populations and communities of colour—the same communities hardest hit by COVID-19. In analyses of two datasets, we quantified inequity in greenness and park proximity across all urbanized areas in the United States and linked greenness and park access to COVID-19 case rates for ZIP codes in 17 states. Areas with majority persons of colour had both higher case rates and less greenness. Furthermore, when controlling for sociodemographic variables, an increase of 0.1 in the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index was associated with a 4.1% decrease in COVID-19 incidence rates (95% confidence interval: 0.9–6.8%). Across the United States, block groups with lower-income and majority persons of colour are less green and have fewer parks. Our results demonstrate that the communities most impacted by COVID-19 also have the least nature nearby. Given that urban nature is associated with both human health and biodiversity, these results have far-reaching implications both during and beyond the pandemic.

Related data: https://www.sfei.org/data/nature-equity-covid-2021


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Buzby, N.; Lin, D.; Sutton, R. 2020. Neonicotinoids and Their Degradates in San Francisco Bay Water. SFEI Contribution No. 1002. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Richmond, CA.

In the summer of 2017, open Bay water samples were collected during the RMP Status and Trends Water Cruise. Samples were analyzed for 19 neonicotinoids and metabolites. The only neonicotinoid detected was imidacloprid, an active ingredient used in both urban and agricultural applications. Imidacloprid was detected at a single site above the method detection limits (2.2-2.6 ng/L) in Lower South Bay at a level of 4.2 ng/L. This value is within the range of concentrations found in a separate RMP study in water samples collected from the South and Lower South Bay margins in 2017. Imidacloprid was detected at 3 of 12 of the margin sites at levels between 3.9 and 11 ng/L; no other neonicotinoids were detected. Of note, these RMP studies appear to represent the first evaluation of ambient neonicotinoid concentrations in an estuarine environment in the nation.

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Cohen, A. N. 1989. New Justifications for Traditional Types of Water Projects, University of California: Berkeley, CA.
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Sun, J.; Sutton, R.; Ferguson, L.; Overdahl, K. 2020. New San Francisco Bay Contaminants Emerge. SFEI Contribution No. 931. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Richmond, CA.

In 2016, the RMP launched a novel investigation to detect new or unexpected contaminants in Bay waters, as well as treated sewage (or wastewater) discharged to the Bay. This study used non-targeted analysis, a powerful tool that provides a broad, open-ended view of thousands of synthetic and naturally-derived chemicals simultaneously. We identified hundreds of contaminants, and the results have opened our eyes to urban stormwater runoff as an important pathway for emerging contaminants to enter the Bay.

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Sun, J. 2018. Non-Targeted Analysis of Water-Soluble Compounds Highlights Overlooked Contaminants and Pathways (Coming Soon). SFEI Contribution No. 905. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Richmond, CA.
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Robinson, A.; Slotton, D. G.; Lowe, S.; Davis, J. A. 2014. North Bay Mercury Biosentinel Project (December 2014 Report). SFEI Contribution No. 738. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Richmond, CA.
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2023. North Bay Selenium 2019-20 QA Summaries. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Richmond, CA.
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Grieb, T.; Roy, S.; Rath, J.; Stewart, R.; Sun, J.; Davis, J. A. 2018. North Bay Selenium Monitoring Design. SFEI Contribution No. 921. San Francisco Estuary Institute : Richmond, CA.
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Beller, E. E.; Baumgarten, S.; Grossinger, R. M.; Longcore, T.; Stein, E. D.; Dark, S.; Dusterhoff, S. D. 2014. Northern San Diego County Lagoons Historical Ecology Investigation. SFEI Contribution No. 722. San Francisco Estuary Institute - Aquatic Science Center: Richmond, CA. p 215.
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Salomon, M.; Baumgarten, S.; Dusterhoff, S. D.; Beller, E. E.; Askevold, R. A. 2015. Novato Creek Baylands Historical Ecology Study. SFEI Contribution No. 740. San Francisco Estuary Institute - Aquatic Science Center: Richmond, CA.

Project Background

Over the past century and a half, lower Novato Creek and the surrounding tidal wetlands have been heavily modified for flood control and land reclamation purposes. Levees were built in the tidal portion of the mainstem channel beginning in the late 1800s to convey flood flows out to San Pablo Bay more rapidly and to remove surrounding areas from inundation. Following levee construction, the wetlands surrounding the channel were drained and converted to agricultural, residential, and industrial areas. These changes have resulted in a considerable loss of wetland habitat, reduced sediment transport to marshes and the Bay, and an overall decreased resilience of the system to sea level rise.
In addition to tidal wetland modification, land use changes upstream in the Novato Creek watershed have resulted in several challenges for flood control management. Dam construction and increased runoff in the upper watershed have resulted in elevated rates of channel incision, which have increased transport of fine sediment from the upper watershed to lower Novato Creek. Channelization of tributaries and construction of irrigation ditches have likely increased drainage density in the upper watershed, also potentially contributing to increased rates of channel incision and fine sediment production (Collins 1998). Downstream, sediment transport capacity has been reduced by construction of a railroad crossing and loss of tidal prism and channel capacity associated with the diking of the surrounding marsh. As a result of the increased fine sediment supply from the watershed and the loss of sediment transport capacity in lower Novato Creek, sediment aggradation occurs within the channel, which in turn reduces the flood capacity of the channel, necessitating periodic dredging.

Currently, the Marin County Department of Public Works (MCDPW) is coordinating the Novato Watershed Program, which includes Marin County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, Novato Sanitary District, and North Marin Water District. Within lower Novato Creek, the Program is seeking to implement a new approach to flood control that includes redirecting sediment for beneficial use, reducing flood channel maintenance costs, restoring wetland habitat, and enhancing resilience to sea level rise. Included as part of this goal is the re-establishment of historical physical processes that existed before major channel modification, which in turn will re-establish historical ecological functions and help to create a tidal landscape that is resilient to increasing sea level.

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Grossinger, R. M.; Dusterhoff, S. D.; Doehring, C.; Salomon, M.; Askevold, R. A. 2015. Novato Creek Baylands Vision: Integrating ecological functions and flood protection within a climate-resilient landscape. SFEI Contribution No. 764.

This report explores the potential for integrating ecological functions into flood risk management on lower Novato Creek. It presents an initial vision of how ecological elements could contribute to flood protection, based on a broad scale analysis and a one day workshop of local and regional experts. The Vision is not intended to be implemented as is, but rather adapted and applied through future projects and analysis. Other actions (e.g., floodwater detention basins) may also need to be implemented in the interim to meet flood risk objectives.

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Senn, D.; Novick, E. 2016. Nutrient Management Strategy Science Plan Report. SFEI Contribution No. 878. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Richmond, CA.
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Holleman, R.; MacVean, L.; Mckibben, M.; Sylvester, Z.; Wren, I.; Senn, D. 2017. Nutrient Management Strategy Science Program. SFEI Contribution No. 879. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Richmond, CA.
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Jabusch, T. W.; Trowbridge, P. 2016. Nutrient Monitoring Planning Workshop - Summary of Existing Nutrient Monitoring Programs, Data Gaps, and Potential Delta RMP “No Regrets” Monitoring Activities. Aquatic Science Center: Richmond, CA.

This report was prepared as a briefing document for a September 2016 workshop held in Sacramento by the Delta Regional Monitoring Program. The purpose of the workshop was to plan how to invest in nutrients-related studies in order to inform better management of Delta waterways. First, the report compiles information about the major existing nutrient monitoring programs in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Next, it outline options for “no regrets” actions for workshop participants to review. The report summarizes interviews with representatives of Delta monitoring and resource management programs, describes current monitoring efforts in the Delta, and presents the conclusions and recommendations from recently completed data syntheses.

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Grossinger, R. M.; Beller, E. E. 2011. Oak Landscapes in the Recent Past. In Oaks in the Urban Landscape: Selection, Care, and Preservation. Costello, L. R., Hagen, B. W., Jones, K. S., Eds.. Oaks in the Urban Landscape: Selection, Care, and Preservation. University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources: Richmond, CA.
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Jarman, W. M.; Davis, J. A. 1997. Observations on trace organic concentrations in RMP water samples. SFEI Contribution No. 210. San Francisco Estuary Institute. pp 67-77.
Shimabuku, I.; Chen, D.; Wu, Y.; Miller, E.; Sun, J.; Sutton, R. 2022. Occurrence and risk assessment of organophosphate esters and bisphenols in San Francisco Bay, California, USA. Science of the Total Environment 813 . SFEI Contribution No. 982.

Organophosphate esters (OPEs) and bisphenols are two classes of industrial chemicals that are ubiquitously detected in environmental matrices due to high global production and widespread use, particularly in the manufacture of plastic products. In 2017, water samples collected throughout the highly urbanized San Francisco Bay were analyzed for 22 OPEs and 16 bisphenols using liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-Q Trap-mass spectrometry. Fifteen of the 22 OPEs were detected, with highest median concentrations in the order TCPP (42 ng/L) > TPhP (9.5 ng/L) > TBOEP (7.6 ng/L) > TnBP (7.5 ng/L) > TEP (6.7 ng/L) > TDCIPP (6.2 ng/L). In contrast, only two of 16 bisphenols, BPA and BPS, were quantified, with concentrations ranging from <0.7–35 ng/L and <1–120 ng/L, respectively. BPA and a few OPEs (EHDPP and TEHP) were primarily present in the particulate phase, while BPS and all other observed OPEs were predominantly found in the dissolved phase. Pairwise correlation analysis revealed several strong, positive correlations among OPEs, and few weak, negative correlations between OPEs and BPA, suggesting differences between the two classes with respect to their sources, pathways, and/or fate in the environment. Concentrations of OPEs and bisphenols observed in this study were generally consistent with reported concentrations in other estuarine and marine settings globally. TDCIPP exceeded existing predicted no-effect concentrations (PNECs) at some sites, and six other compounds (TCrP, IDDPP, EHDPP, TPhP, TBOEP, and BPA) were observed at levels approaching individual compound PNECs (not considering mixture effects), indicating potential risks to Bay biota. These results emphasize the need to control releases of these contaminants in order to protect the ecosystem. Periodic monitoring can be used to maintain vigilance in the face of potential regrettable substitutions.

Sutton, R.; Xie, Y.; Moran, K. D.; Teerlink, J. 2019. Occurrence and Sources of Pesticides to Urban Wastewater and the Environment. In Pesticides in Surface Water: Monitoring, Modeling, Risk Assessment, and Management. Pesticides in Surface Water: Monitoring, Modeling, Risk Assessment, and Management. American Chemical Society: Washington, DC. pp 63-88.

Municipal wastewater has not been extensively examined as a pathway by which pesticides contaminate surface water, particularly relative to the well-recognized pathways of agricultural and urban runoff. A state-of-the-science review of the occurrence and fate of current-use pesticides in wastewater, both before and after treatment, indicates this pathway is significant and should not be overlooked. A comprehensive conceptual model is presented to establish all relevant pesticide-use patterns with the potential for both direct and indirect down-the-drain transport. Review of available studies from the United States indicates 42 pesticides in current use. While pesticides and pesticide degradates have been identified in wastewater, many more have never been examined in this matrix. Conventional wastewater treatment technologies are generally ineffective at removing pesticides from wastewater, with high removal efficiency only observed in the case of highly hydrophobic compounds, such as pyrethroids. Aquatic life reference values can be exceeded in undiluted effluents. For example, seven compounds, including three pyrethroids, carbaryl, fipronil and its sulfone degradate, and imidacloprid, were detected in treated wastewater effluent at levels exceeding U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) aquatic life benchmarks for chronic exposure to invertebrates. Pesticides passing through wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) merit prioritization for additional study to identify sources and appropriate pollution-prevention strategies. Two case studies, diazinon and chlorpyrifos in household pesticide products, and fipronil and imidacloprid in pet flea control products, highlight the importance of identifying neglected sources of environmental contamination via the wastewater pathway. Additional monitoring and modeling studies are needed to inform source control and prevention of undesirable alternative solutions.

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Grosso, C.; Hale, A.; Williams, M.; May, M. 2014. Online 401: From Pilot to Production. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Richmond, CA.
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Wu, J.; Kauhanen, P.; Hunt, J. A.; Senn, D.; Hale, T.; McKee, L. J. . 2019. Optimal Selection and Placement of Green Infrastructure in Urban Watersheds for PCB Control. Journal of Sustainable Water in the Built Environment 5 (2) . SFEI Contribution No. 729.

San Francisco Bay and its watersheds are polluted by legacy polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), resulting in the establishment of a total maximum daily load (TDML) that requires a 90% PCB load reduction from municipal stormwater. Green infrastructure (GI) is a multibenefit solution for stormwater management, potentially addressing the TMDL objectives, but planning and implementing GI cost-effectively to achieve management goals remains a challenge and requires an integrated watershed approach. This study used the nondominated sorting genetic algorithm (NSGA-II) coupled with the Stormwater Management Model (SWMM) to find near-optimal combinations of GIs that maximize PCB load reduction and minimize total relative cost at a watershed scale. The selection and placement of three locally favored GI types (bioretention, infiltration trench, and permeable pavement) were analyzed based on their cost and effectiveness. The results show that between optimal solutions and nonoptimal solutions, the effectiveness in load reduction could vary as much as 30% and the difference in total relative cost could be well over $100 million. Sensitivity analysis of both GI costs and sizing criteria suggest that the assumptions made regarding these parameters greatly influenced the optimal solutions. 

If you register for access to the journal, then you may download the article for free through July 31, 2019.

DOI: 10.1061/JSWBAY.0000876

Bǎlan, S. A.; Andrews, D. Q.; Blum, A.; Diamond, M. L.; Fernández, S. Rojello; Harriman, E.; Lindstrom, A. B.; Reade, A.; Richter, L.; Sutton, R.; et al. 2023. Optimizing Chemicals Management in the United States and Canada through the Essential-Use Approach. Environmental Science & Technology 57 (4).

Chemicals have improved the functionality and convenience of industrial and consumer products, but sometimes at the expense of human or ecological health. Existing regulatory systems have proven to be inadequate for assessing and managing the tens of thousands of chemicals in commerce. A different approach is urgently needed to minimize ongoing production, use, and exposures to hazardous chemicals. The premise of the essential-use approach is that chemicals of concern should be used only in cases in which their function in specific products is necessary for health, safety, or the functioning of society and when feasible alternatives are unavailable. To optimize the essential-use approach for broader implementation in the United States and Canada, we recommend that governments and businesses (1) identify chemicals of concern for essentiality assessments based on a broad range of hazard traits, going beyond toxicity; (2) expedite decision-making by avoiding unnecessary assessments and strategically asking up to three questions to determine whether the use of the chemical in the product is essential; (3) apply the essential-use approach as early as possible in the process of developing and assessing chemicals; and (4) engage diverse experts in identifying chemical uses and functions, assessing alternatives, and making essentiality determinations and share such information broadly. If optimized and expanded into regulatory systems in the United States and Canada, other policymaking bodies, and businesses, the essential-use approach can improve chemicals management and shift the market toward safer chemistries that benefit human and ecological health.

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Cohen, A. N. 2005. Order Tanaidacea. In The Light & Smith Manual: Intertidal Invertebrates of the California and Oregon Coasts. Carlton, J. T., Ed.. The Light & Smith Manual: Intertidal Invertebrates of the California and Oregon Coasts. University of California Press: Berkeley, CA.
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Bruland, K. W.; Miller, L. A. 1995. Organic speciation of silver in marine waters. Environmental Science and Technology 29, 2616-2621 . SFEI Contribution No. 186.
Oros, D. R.; Simoneit, B. R. T.; Mazurek, M. A.; Baham, J. E. 2002. Organic Tracers from Wild Fire Residues in Soils and Rain/River Wash-Out. Water, Air and Soil Pollution 137, p.203-233 . SFEI Contribution No. 479.
Oram, J. J.; Greenfield, B. K.; Davis, J. A.; David, N.; Leatherbarrow, J. E. 2006. Organochlorine Pesticide Fate in San Francisco Bay. SFEI Contribution No. 433. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Oakland, CA. p 48.
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Cohen, A. N. 2005. Overview of 2004/05 Rapid Assessment Shore and Channel Surveys for Exotic Species in San Francisco Bay. SFEI Contribution No. 452. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Oakland, CA.
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Cohen, A. N.; Zabin, C. J. 2009. Oyster shells as vectors for exotic species. Journal of Shellfish Research 28 (1), 163-167 . SFEI Contribution No. 709.
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Greenfield, B. K.; Davis, J. A. 2004. A PAH Fate Model for San Francisco Bay. Chemosphere . SFEI Contribution No. 114.
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Cohen, A. N. 2006. The Panama Canal: Cutting a canal through Central America. In Bridging Divides: Maritime Canals as Invasion Corridor. Cohen, A. N., Gollasch, S., Galil, B. S., Eds.. Bridging Divides: Maritime Canals as Invasion Corridor. Kluwer Academic Publishing: Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
Cohen, A. N. 2006. The Panama Canal: Species Introductions and the Panama Canal. In Bridging Divides: Maritime Canals as Invasion Corridors. Cohen, A. N., Gollasch, S., Galil, B. S., Eds.. Bridging Divides: Maritime Canals as Invasion Corridors. Kluwer Academic Publishing: Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
Flegal, A. R.; Abu-Saba, K. E. 1997. Particulate sources and sinks of dissolved chromium in the San Francisco Bay estuary. Environmental Science and Technology . SFEI Contribution No. 25.
Sadaria, A. M.; Sutton, R.; Moran, K. D.; Teerlink, J.; Brown, J. V.; Halden, R. U. 2017. Passage of fiproles and imidacloprid from urban pest control uses through wastewater treatment plants in northern California. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 36, 1473-1482 . SFEI Contribution No. 783.

Urban pest control insecticides, specifically fipronil and its four major degradates (fipronil sulfone, sulfide, desulfinyl, and amide) and imidacloprid, were monitored during drought conditions in eight San Francisco Bay wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). In influent and effluent, ubiquitous detections were obtained in units of ng/L for fipronil (13-88), fipronil sulfone (1-28), fipronil sulfide (1-5) and imidacloprid (58-306). In influent, 100% of imidacloprid and 62 ± 9% of total fiproles (fipronil and degradates) were present in the dissolved state, with the balance being bound to filter-removable particulates. Targeted insecticides persisted during wastewater treatment, regardless of treatment technology utilized (imidacloprid: 93 ± 17%; total fiproles: 65 ± 11%), with partitioning into sludge (3.7-151.1 μg/kg dry weight as fipronil) accounting for minor losses of total fiproles entering WWTPs. The load of total fiproles was fairly consistent across the facilities but fiprole speciation varied. This first regional study on fiprole and imidacloprid occurrences in raw and treated California sewage revealed ubiquity and marked persistence to conventional treatment of both phenylpyrazole and neonicotinoid compounds. Flea and tick control agents for pets are identified as potential sources of pesticides in sewage meriting further investigation and inclusion in chemical-specific risk assessments. 

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Iknayan, K.; Heath, S.; Terrill, S. B.; Wenny, D. G.; Panlasigui, S.; Wang, Y.; Beller, E. E.; Spotswood, E. 2024. Patterns in bird and pollinator occupancy and richness in a mosaic of urban office parks across scales and seasons. Ecology and Evolution 14 (3).

Urbanization is a leading cause of global biodiversity loss, yet cities can provide resources required by many species throughout the year. In recognition of this, cities around the world are adopting strategies to increase biodiversity. These efforts would benefit from a robust understanding of how natural and enhanced features in urbanized areas influence various taxa. We explored seasonal and spatial patterns in occupancy and taxonomic richness of birds and pollinators among office parks in Santa Clara County, California, USA, where natural features and commercial landscaping have generated variation in conditions across scales. We surveyed birds and insect pollinators, estimated multi-species occupancy and species richness, and found that spatial scale (local, neighborhood, and landscape scale), season, and urban sensitivity were all important for understanding how communities occupied sites. Features at the landscape (distance to streams or baylands) and local scale (tree canopy, shrub, or impervious cover) were the strongest predictors of avian occupancy in all seasons. Pollinator richness was influenced by local tree canopy and impervious cover in spring, and distance to baylands in early and late summer. We then predicted the relative contributions of different spatial scales to annual bird species richness by simulating “good” and “poor” quality sites based on influential covariates returned by the previous models. Shifting from poor to good quality conditions locally increased annual avian richness by up to 6.8 species with no predicted effect on the quality of the neighborhood. Conversely, sites of poor local and neighborhood scale quality in good-quality landscapes were predicted to harbor 11.5 more species than sites of good local- and neighborhood-scale quality in poor-quality landscapes. Finally, more urban-sensitive bird species were gained at good quality sites relative to urban tolerant species, suggesting that urban natural features at the local and landscape scales disproportionately benefited them.

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Davis, J. A. 2002. A PCB Budget for San Francisco Bay. SFEI Contribution No. 376. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Oakland, CA.
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Leatherbarrow, J. E.; Yee, D.; Davis, J. A. 2001. PCBs in effluent. SFEI Contribution No. 237.
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