Volitional movement patterns of the endangered Delta Smelt:
The delta smelt is a modestly sized and relatively inconspicuous fish endemic to Sacramento Delta. Although formally abundant, this fish has recently received a growing interest and concern over its plummeting numbers and has been listed as Threatened under both the Federal and California State Endangered Species Acts.
Through the use of an automated shuttle box system, developed in collaboration with Loligo Systems in Denmark, we are now able to quantify the preference/avoidance behavior of the delta smelt to changes in salinity, water clarity (turbidity), and temperature. The system consists of two circular test tanks, connected by a narrow channel, allowing the organism to freely "shuttle" between the two compartments. This system includes data acquisition and digital control of experimental devices to establish two different (constant) levels of stimuli for exposure/avoidance/choice tests. The organism is able to choose its preferred level of stimuli through its behavior.
Data from the shuttle box system is collected continuously over the duration of each trial and the individual residence times are calculated automatically.