Salmonids in California's Central Coast Region: Salmon, Trout, and Steelhead
Salmon, trout and steelhead are all members of the taxonomic family Salmonidae or Salmonids (plural noun). Many species of salmonids are strictly anadromous, however, there are species which do not express an anadromous life history. Furthermore, sibling rainbow trout (Onchorhynchus mykiss) which come from the same parents can exhibit different life histories where one shows anadromy and the other remains in the stream as a resident trout.
The California Central Coast (CCC) Region supports two species of salmonids: rainbow trout and Coho salmon. While they are known to reproduce in similar habitats, only a limited number of coastal watersheds in the region still support both species.
Rainbow Trout & Steelhead
Steelhead found in the CCC region are divided into three Distinct Population Segments (DPS): Central California Coast Steelhead (STCCC), South-Central California Coast steelhead  (STSCC), and Southern California Coast Steelhead (STSCA). South-Central steelhead are the most prominent DPS here, with their biogeographical range spanning from Santa Cruz to a few coastal streams just south of San Luis Obispo (i.e. Pismo and Arroyo Grande Creek). Central California Coast steelhead inhabit streams in the Santa Cruz mountains and regions further north into Marina and Sonoma County. Because their range overlaps with the Coho salmon populations in the region, there are seven streams in Santa Cruz County where both species are regularly observed to spawn in during their respective migration periods.
|Protection Status of Steelhead Distinct Population Segments (DPS)|
|DPS||CESA Status||ESA Status|
|Central California Coast Steelhead (STCCC) ||NONE||Threatened |
|South-Central California Coast Steelhead (STSCC) ||NONE||Threatened |
|Southern California Coast Steelhead (STSCA) ||NONE||Endangered |
Extant populations of Coho salmon in the CCC region are found in coastal streams of San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. Originally listed as threatened on the ESA in 1996, the Central California Coast Coho Salmon (COCCC) DPS protection status was reclassified to endangered in 2005. At this time they were also listed as endangered in the California Endangered Species Act in a join effort to preserve these populations from further decline. The COCCC DPS is the only extant population segment of Coho salmon in the CCC Region.
The Recovery Plan for the Evolutionarily Significant Unit of Central California Coast Coho Salmon was completed in 2012 to define the current status of the COCCC DPS and present strategies for their long-term conservation in the face of climate change and anthropogenic effects.
DPS Salmonid Populations in the CCC Region
|Coho Salmon and Steelhead Populations in California's Central Coast Hydrologic Region |
|San Vicente Creek||X||X|
|San Lorenzo River||X||X|
|San Jose Creek||X|
|Little Sur River||X|
|Big Sur River||X|
|San Carpoforo Creek||X|
|Arroyo de la Cruz||X|
|Little Pico Creek||X|
|San Simeon Creek||X|
|Santa Rosa Creek||X|
|Morro Bay Complex||X|
|San Luis Obispo, Pismo, and Arroyo Grande Creek||X|
|Santa Anita Creek||X|
|Goleta Slough Complex||X|
- Final Coastal Multispecies Recovery Plan for the California Coastal Chinook Salmon, Northern California Steelhead and Central California Coast Steelhead. 2016. National Marine Fisheries Service.
- South-Central California Coast Steelhead Recovery Plan. 2013. National Marine Fisheries Service
- Southern California Steelhead Recovery Plan Summary. 2012. National Marine Fisheries Service.
- Federal Endangered Species Act. 1973. United States Environmental Protection Agency.https://www.fws.gov/endangered/laws-policies/regulations-and-policies.html.
- Critical Habitat-Salmon and Steelhead (all West Coast). 2019. NOAA Fisheries. [accessed 2020 Apr 8 https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/resource/map/critical-habitat-salmon-and-steelhead-all-west-coast]
- Listing of Endangered Species, California Endangered Species Act. 1970. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/CESA/FESA.
- Recovery Plan for the Evolutionarily Significant Unit of Central California Coast Coho Salmon. 2012. NOAA Fisheries. Vol.1.https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/resource/document/recovery-plan-evolutionarily-significant-unit-central-california-coast-coho
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