Nigiri Project Looks At Floodplains To Support Salmon Populations

For many years, experiments conducted on the rice fields of Knaggs Ranch, in California’s Yolo Bypass, have yielded accelerated growth rates for juvenile Chinook salmon, according to a release from the University of California, Davis. The experiments are part of the Nigiri Project, an effort that looks to assess how floodplains can support healthy populations of salmon.

This year, a group of juvenile Chinook salmon will be held in underwater pens on flooded rice fields, as in years past. A second group will be held in pens floating in an agricultural canal, while a third group will be held in floating pens nearby in the Sacramento River.

Researchers will weigh and measure the fish throughout the study period to see how they are faring in the floodplain habitats. The bigger and healthier they are, the more likely it is that the salmon will survive migrating in the ocean, scientists say.

The experiment began on Feb. 19 and is slated to continue for about four weeks, after which time the fish will be released.

Top image: Juvenile salmon feast on bugs in enclosed areas of the Yolo Bypass during a 2014 experiment in a flooded rice field. (Credit: Carson Jeffres/UC Davis)

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