Ted Sommer

Position: Lead Scientist, California Department of Water Resources

Ted Sommer is a leading researcher on native fishes, with studies on salmon biology, native fishes, floodplain ecology, food webs, and hydrology.  Since 2001 Dr. Sommer has published more than 60 research articles in peer-reviewed scientific publications.  Career highlights included many collaborative and multi-disciplinary efforts including founding the Yolo Bypass floodplain research program, co-leading the Pelagic Organism Decline research effort, and synthesis of long-term data to address management questions (e.g. Delta Smelt, Chinook Salmon, Sacramento Splittail, and Striped Bass).  Several of these projects led to new approaches to resource management in the region. He is particularly excited about his recent large scale adaptive management studies:  the Knaggs Project (salmon habitat); the Suisun Marsh Salinity Control Gate Action (Smelt habitat); and the North Delta Food Web Action (food web support).

Ted Sommer received his MS and PhD from University of California at Davis, where he studied under noted fisheries biologist, Dr. Peter Moyle.  Early in his career he focused on aquaculture projects, including research in France, Australia and the southern California desert.  After returning from overseas, Dr. Sommer began his long career with California Department of Water Resources in 1991 under Dr. Randy Brown. Early on in his work at DWR, Dr. Sommer founded the Feather River fish monitoring program, which has continued for more than two decades.  His work moved progressively downstream to the Bay-Delta, where he has helped manage the Interagency Ecological Program since the late 1990s.  Dr. Sommer currently serves as the first Lead Scientist for DWR, guiding the department's aquatic science efforts, particularly for the Delta and its tributaries.   A key part of his work is to provide scientific input and recommendations to DWR and other agencies about resource management decisions for Bay-Delta aquatic species and habitats.  He also currently serves as an Associate Editor for North American Journal of Fisheries Management, and San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science.

Selected Publications

Sommer, T. R., W. C. Harrell, M. Nobriga, R. Brown, P.B. Moyle, W. J. Kimmerer and L. Schemel.  2001. California's Yolo Bypass: evidence that flood control can be compatible with fish, wetlands, wildlife and agriculture.  Fisheries 26(8):6 16.

Sommer, T. R., M. L. Nobriga, W. C. Harrell, W. Batham, and W. J. Kimmerer.  2001.  Floodplain rearing of juvenile Chinook salmon:  evidence of enhanced growth and survival.  Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 58(2):325 333

Sommer, T., C. Armor, R. Baxter, R. Breuer, L. Brown, M. Chotkowski, S. Culberson, F. Feyrer, M. Gingras, B. Herbold, W. Kimmerer, A. Mueller-Solger, M. Nobriga, and K. Souza. 2007. The collapse of pelagic fishes in the upper San Francisco Estuary. Fisheries 32:270-277.

Sommer, Ted R, Francine Mejia, Kathy Hieb, Randy Baxter, Erik J Loboschefsky and Frank J Loge. 2011. Long-term shifts in the lateral distribution of age-0 striped bass Morone saxatilis in the San Francisco estuary.  Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 140: 1451-1459.

Sommer, T., Conrad, J. L, & Culberson, S. (2019). Ten Essential Bay‒Delta Articles. San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science, 17(2). Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/8f95w6k5


Ph.D University of California, Davis

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