Publication Date

Fall 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Studies


Lynne Trulio


habitat complexity, invertebrates, salt ponds, San Francisco Bay

Subject Areas

Environmental studies; Water resources management; Zoology


Wetlands are unique ecosystems that support specific flora, fauna, hydrology, and geology. These ecosystems increase groundwater availability, improve water quality, decrease flood water impacts, and help decrease shoreline erosion. In the south San Francisco Bay, the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project is restoring over 6,000 hectares of former salt ponds to tidal marshes and managed pond habitats. These habitats will support endangered species as well as migratory birds, diving ducks, invertebrates, and algal species. Benthic invertebrates are a vital piece of the South Bay food web as they provide the sustenance for other invertebrates, fish, shorebirds, and waterfowl. Improving the health of benthic communities in existing ponds is expected to attract more birds to those ponds and improve the overall health of the South Bay.

This study assessed the relationship between invertebrate diversity, species richness, and density at two types of structures—bird islands and wood posts—in two managed ponds in the South Bay. Neither structure significantly affected these benthic parameters, although there was a trend toward more organisms and diversity at structure versus non-structure sites. Differences were significant between ponds and seasons. The results of this work can be used by resource managers to maintain or improve current levels of avian foraging in existing ponds through appropriate pond management in the South Bay salt ponds.