Science news and reports: Salmon restoration projects showing signs of success, plus Delta smelt, CO2 from streams and rivers, and sea level rise

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Merced River Ranch restoration showing signs of success for salmon:  ” …  The 318-acre Merced River Ranch property was purchased in 1998 by CDFW for its conservation and restoration potential on the Merced River. The property included large cobble dredge mounds that were removed from the river decades ago in the search for gold. This cobble is now being returned to the Merced River and serves as a source of gravel for salmon spawning restoration. … ”  Read more from the USFWS Field Notes here:  STOCKTON FWO: From Gold Mining to Salmon Habitat Merced River Ranch Restoration Makes a Splash

Removing barriers on the Calaveras River:  The lower portion of the Calaveras River has close to 100 barriers that are blocking passage of various aquatic species; 35 have been identified as high priority for removal:  ” … In spite of the large number of barriers, the Calaveras continues to see a return of steelhead and Chinook salmon almost every year. That prompted an interdisciplinary group of experts from U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), California Department of Wildlife, FishBio, Fishery Foundation and others to form the Calaveras River Fish Group. The group then began work with DWR to identify the four highest priority barriers for repair or removal on the Calaveras River. … ”  Read more from USFWS Field Notes here:  PACIFIC SOUTHWEST REGION: National Fish Passage and Anadromous Fish Restoration Programs work with partners to improve the Calaveras River for fish, water and people

Successful season for West Coast salmon fishing:  The FishBio blog reports the season started with a bang and continued:  ” … Just a few years ago, the California salmon industry was devastated during the Sacramento River fall-run Chinook collapse, but has now rebounded with consecutive years of a successful fishery. Preseason projections indicated that fishing off the West Coast was going to be better than any year since 2005, and thus far the projections have mostly lived up to the hype (Preseason III, 2013). Preliminary harvest reporting numbers for fishing off of Washington, Oregon, and California through October 31 are 489,443 commercially caught and 164,351 recreationally caught Chinook salmon (PFMC Supplemental Information Report). While the recreational numbers are about 10,000 fish lower than last year, the commercial catch is up by more than 100,000.   Looking at total catch by state, fishing off the coast of California proved rewarding. ... ”  Continue reading at the FIshBio blog here:  Chinook salmon ocean harvest surveys show improvement

Not just for sushi anymore: Salmon and rice yields multiple benefits:  The Pacific Institute Insights blog discusses the recent Nigiri project, a collaborative effort working to understand and test the multiple benefits of nurturing young salmon on agricultural rice paddies in the Yolo Bypass:  ” … In partnership with scientists from UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, government agencies including the California Department of Water Resources, and the local nonprofit California Trout, Knaggs Ranch is applying the Nigiri culinary model to the local landscape. Working together, the partners are formulating a new model of integrated management that works to balance the multiple priorities of the area, including preservation of local rice agriculture, floodwater prevention, and restoration for local fish and wildlife habitats. Two years in the making, the Project is leading the way in shifting the Yolo Bypass, and in the long run, other regions of the Central Valley, towards a new multi-use management paradigm. ... ”  Read more from the Pacific Institute’s Insights blog here:  Nigiri at the Landscape Scale: Salmon on Rice Rolls Up Multiple Benefits for Fish and Farms

From the Delta Stewardship Council’s Research Grant Program:

  • Estimating Juvenile Chinook Salmon Spring and Winter Run Abundance at Chipps Island:  This study estimated the abundance of winter- and spring- run juvenile salmon leaving the Delta near Chipps Island with the purpose of estimating “the abundance of “true” juvenile winter- and spring-run Chinook salmon leaving the Delta and compare it to other model estimates for 1) identifying trends and patterns of populations and system response to a changing environment, and 2) using discretionary environmental water supplies more effectively for at-risk species.”  Read more here:  Estimating Juvenile Chinook Salmon Spring and Winter Run Abundance at Chipps Island
  • Modeling the Delta Smelt Population of the San Francisco Estuary: ” … Export pumping in the Delta is often reduced because of concerns over entrainment and mortality of delta smelt by the pumping facilities. Even scientific sampling programs, which take a minuscule fraction of the population each year, can be curtailed or stopped because of concern over killing these fish. At the same time, a great deal continues to be learned about the biology of delta smelt, including abundance and rearing studies.  … The purpose of this project was to further develop and test two complementary models of the delta smelt population, but not for the purpose of answering detailed questions about water allocation or specific restoration actions. Rather, inputs to these models consist of information on environmental conditions and population vital rates (such as growth, reproduction, and mortality), which then influence how the modeled population responds. Our proposed models are an individual-based model and a matrix model. … ”  Read more here:  Modeling the Delta Smelt Population of the San Francisco Estuary
  • Physiological Mechanisms of Environmental tolerance in Delta Smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus): From Molecules to Adverse Outcomes:  ” … The delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus) is a pelagic (open water) fish species endemic to the Bay-Delta, is extremely sensitive to changes in its environment, and is one of several fishes in the region whose abundance has declined dramatically, leading to its listing under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) in 2010. Research is showing that multiple stressors are responsible for the decline, such as entrainment at water pump stations, loss of habitat, competition with and predation from non-native species, as well as contaminants and poor water quality. Additionally, climate change is predicted to alter salinity, turbidity and temperature, which are important abiotic factors for fish distribution.  Our current research aims to determine the fundamental niche of delta smelt; investigating the temperature, salinity, and turbidity tolerances of different life stages, as well as the physiological mechanisms underpinning them. … ”  Physiological Mechanisms of Environmental tolerance in Delta Smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus): From Molecules to Adverse Outcomes

World’s Rivers and Streams Leak a Lot of Carbon Dioxide: Inland waterways play a pivotal role in the global carbon cycle; now a new study published in Nature has found that rivers and streams release about 5 times more carbon dioxide than all the world’s lakes and reservoirs, even though the latter cover far more of the Earth’s surface:  ” … Figuring out how much carbon dioxide these water bodies contribute to the carbon cycle is a complex task. Scientists have to determine the global surface area of the world’s lakes, streams, rivers and other water bodies. Then, they have to figure out how much carbon dioxide those bodies hold, and how quickly that carbon is transferred from water to atmosphere, a factor called the gas-transfer velocity. Uncertainties and a lack of data in all three areas have hamstrung efforts to determine exactly how much carbon inland waters are releasing. … ”  Continue reading at the Smithsonian here:  World’s Rivers and Streams Leak a Lot of Carbon Dioxide

Sea level rise could exceed 1 meter in this century:  A research team of US and German scientists say strong emissions controls,we could expect a sea-level rise of 40-60 centimeters by 2100: ” … While the results for the scenario with climate mitigation suggest a good chance of limiting future sea-level rise to one meter, the high emissions scenario would threaten the survival of some coastal cities and low-lying islands,” says Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “From a risk management perspective, projections of future sea-level rise are of major importance for coastal planning, and for weighing options of different levels of ambition in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.” Projecting sea-level rise, however, comes with large uncertainties, since the physical processes causing the rise are complex. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  Expert assessment: Sea-level rise could exceed one meter in this century

Climate change helping invasive species take over:  “Since the beginning of the 20th century, the growing season in many areas of the lower 48 states has expanded by about two weeks. Frosts end earlier in the spring and begin later in the fall. To gardeners in Maine, Wisconsin and Montana, that might seem a blessing. What’s not to like about more lettuce or riper tomatoes?    The longer seasons, however, are also helping invasive plants annex American soil; extended springs mean they can more quickly push aside native species and transform ecosystems. “What’s interesting about climate change is that humans are effectively manipulating how species experience time,” says ecologist Elizabeth Wolkovich of the Biodiversity Research Centre at the University of British Columbia. … ”  Read more from Smithsonian Magazine here: How Climate Change is Helping Invasive Species Take Over

XKCD’s Comic pick of the week:

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