Science news and reports: IEP Newsletter, presentations from water project operations annual science review, Go Pro at work, young salmon studied and more


Solar Flare, November 5th
Photo credit: NASA

Interagency Ecological Program (IEP) newsletter now available:  The issue is mostly dedicated to status and trends for 2012 including benthic monitoring, pelagic fishes of the upper estuary, and fish salvage operations at federal and state water project pumps.  The issue also includes a report on Delta water project operations for January through March, 2013.  Read it here: IEP Newsletter November 2, 2013

Presentations from the 2013 Long-Term Operations Biological Opinions Annual Science Review now available:

GoPro cameras find uses in scientific applications:  The FishBio blog explains how the handy versatile cameras are being used in their fish monitoring applications here:  Going Pro

Weekly Science News

Click here for more editions of Science News.

New study focuses on young salmon as they move into the ocean for the first time:  The study focuses on basic ocean conditions and the behavior of young migrating salmon:  ” … The findings, from ecologists at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, focus on a perilous period in the life of salmon. After their birth in fresh water, salmon migrate to the ocean, where they must quickly adapt to an environment unlike anything they’ve experienced before — deep water full of new predators, with strong currents and competition from all sides.  How the fish fare during their first few weeks in the ocean has a profound impact on species’ ability to survive into adulthood. … ”  Read more from Science Direct here:  Tracking Young Salmon’s First Moves in the Ocean

Algae and the Elwha Dam removal project:  The EPA  blog, Green Conversation, has a post about the results of benthic monitoring at mouth of the Elwha River, downstream from the dam removal site:  ” … This survey involves counting 72 species of invertebrates and 13 species of algae—all of which are experiencing changes, some dramatic, as a result of the largest dam removal and restoration project to date: an experiment of grand scale for Elwha River mouth seafloor residents!  The survey is led by the U.S. Geologic Survey, and the team includes Washington Sea Grant, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, and EPA divers.  Although divers reported seeing fewer algae, the scientists are still crunching the numbers. … ”  Read more from Green Conversations here:  The Algae “Strike Back”: Post Dam Removal Benthic Surveys at the Elwha River Mouth

Canada’s great inland freshwater Delta at risk:  Rising temperatures, a prolonged drought, and water withdrawals for Alberta’s tar sands industry threaten the 2200 square-mile freshwater Delta, an expanse of waterways and wetlands, seasonally meandering rivers and streams:  ” … Recently, however, the delta has been undergoing more profound change than Wandering Spirit — or any of the other Cree, Dene, and Métis people whose lives depend on this world — have seen before. Most noticeably, the delta has been drying out, the result of natural cycles of drought as well as human impacts. But two important human influences — the swift warming of the alpine and boreal forest regions across Canada and the diversion of water for tar sands mining — are expected to intensify, potentially putting even more stress on the delta.  If the drying of the Peace-Athabasca Delta continues, it could threaten one of North America’s most vibrant ecosystems, home to as many as a million birds; a commercial fishery that relies on walleye, pike, and lake whitefish; the world’s largest free-roaming bison herd; and a unique pack of gray wolves that preys on them. No other waterfowl staging area in Canada is as important as the delta, which harbors 219 species of birds, more than 300 species of invertebrates, 22 species of fish, and 43 species of mammals. … ”  Read more from Yale 360 here: Canada’s Great Inland Delta: A Precarious Future Looms

The Endangered Species Act: Static Law Meets Dynamic World:  I’ll admit I haven’t read this paper yet, but it’s been on my reading list ever since Chuck Bonham referenced it in his speech at the State of the Estuary conference.  It’s written by Holly Doremus, UC Berkeley School of Law, dated 2009.  Here’s the abstract:  “This paper looks at the discussion that preceded and accompanied the Endangered Species Act’s passage and early implementation, focusing on why the law took the form it did. In particular, I am interested in why the ESA came to assume an unrealistically static vision of nature and of law, and how to clarify that vision. The ESA embodies three key fallacies which overemphasize stability: the essentialist fallacy, which assumes that species are unchanging; the wilderness fallacy, which assumes that landscapes are at stable equilibrium; and the rule of law fallacy, which assumes that legal obligations should be fixed. For the first generation of ESA implementation stability, although illusory, was a rough approximation of reality, close enough that conservation policy could largely ignore change. Unfortunately, we now find ourselves in a world where change is occurring at a sufficiently rapid pace that a static conservation strategy is doomed to failure. This paper examines the need for a dynamic approach, explaining how the ESA’s tacit assumptions of stasis complicate the task of conservation. It then looks at the prospects for moving to a more dynamic model of conservation policy. It concludes that there are real political, psychological, and practical barriers to truly dynamic conservation policy, but that there are ways to move incrementally in that direction.”  Download the paper here: The Endangered Species Act: Static Law Meets Dynamic World

Call for abstracts: IWA Specialist Conference on Watershed and River Basin Management:  “Now accepting abstract submissions for contributed oral and poster presentations. Join experts from around the world on September 9th-12th, 2014 in beautiful San Francisco, California to network, explore, and discuss cutting edge issues related to sustainable watershed management, with a special focus on emerging issues related to watersheds and river basin management. Conference topics will include impacts of climate change on watershed management, delta and estuary ecosystems, water quality impacts of hydraulic fracturing, harmful algae blooms, environmental impacts of large water projects, irrigated agriculture, impacts of wildfires on watershed management and more.”  Find out more here:  Call for abstracts, IWA Conference

Confidential to JS:   I tried to message you back, but I got some bizarre message from Twitter so I gave up.  Thanks for the tip!

XKCD Comic of the Week:

Photo credit:  NASA captures an X-class solar flare as it burst from a large, active sunspot – it was the largest this year.  More information from NASA by clicking here.

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