Science news and reports: Predation workshop, Antioch dunes restoration, Delta Restoration Network, the importance of stupidy in scientific research and more!

The Delta Science Program's "By the Numbers" report

The Delta Science Program’s “By the Numbers” report

The Delta Science Program’s Science News is now available online:

  • The Science of Fish Eating Fish:Are introduced predatory fish a major obstacle to restoration of salmon runs? Or are the levels of predation seen just part of the normal attrition that occurs between egg and returning adult? A workshop to answer questions about predation on juvenile salmonids in the Central Valley was conducted as a joint effort by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and the Delta Science Program (DSP) July 22-23 on the University of California, Davis campus. … ”  Click here to read the full article.
  • Also in this issue: quagga mussels, the Delta Science Plan, news from the Delta ISB.  Access all articles by clicking here.
  • The Delta Science Program wants your opinion on the Science News.  Click here to take the survey.

Delta restoration also includes dunes: In the Delta, we talk of floodplain restoration, tidal marsh, even sometimes grasslands and vernal pools, but historically, sand dunes were a part of the Delta, too.  Over at the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, there’s an ambitious restoration underway to restore a piece of the historic dune environment that once existed there, which is suffering from lack of sand input and invasive plants.  Bay Nature reports:  ” … Yelling over the rattle and whistle of a passing freight train, Terrazas explains that the natural sand dune system is “broken,” its formerly shifting sands locked in place by a mat of invasive plants including winter vetch, a legume that smothers the endemic wallflower and evening primrose. “With the invasive grasses and without an influx of natural sand, the dunes have been stabilized,” he said. “So we have to try and provide them with disturbance.” The defining feature of a sand dune system is of course, the sand, and since early last year Terrazas—a wildlife refuge specialist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—has been in the market for some…and large quantities of it. By introducing vast amounts of sand, the FWS will be able to cover over and smother the invasive mats, and then, hopefully, reconstruct an environment able to support healthy populations of native species. … ”  Read the full article from Bay-Nature here:  Restoring Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge

Weekly Science News

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Delta Restoration Network meeting materials online:  The Delta Conservancy has posted meeting notes and presentations from the November 7 meeting.  Click here to access them.

New USGS report on sediment budgets for the south San Francisco Bay:  From the abstract:  “The South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project is overseeing the restoration of about 6000 ha of former commercial salt-evaporation ponds to tidal marsh and managed wetlands in the southern reach of San Francisco Bay (SFB). As a result of regional groundwater overdrafts prior to the 1970s, parts of the project area have subsided below sea-level and will require between 29 and 45 million m3 of sediment to raise the surface of the subsided areas to elevations appropriate for tidal marsh colonization and development. Therefore, a sufficient sediment supply to the far south SFB subembayment is a critical variable for achieving restoration goals. Although both major tributaries to far south SFB have been seasonally gaged for sediment since 2004, the sediment flux at the Dumbarton Narrows, the bayward boundary of far south SFB, has not been quantified until recently. … ”  A sediment budget for the southern reach in San Francisco Bay, CA: Implications for habitat restoration

Peter Gleick with a perspective on 400 ppm:  “Just to provide a little perspective, here are the latest data and a graph on atmospheric carbon dioxide, with information going back 800,000 years. … ”  Read more here:  “You are Here.” Perspective on 400 ppm CO2 in the Atmosphere

The importance of stupidity in scientific research:  Martin Schwartz, PhD writes: “I recently saw an old friend for the first time in many years. We had been Ph.D. students at the same time, both studying science, although in different areas. She later dropped out of graduate school, went to Harvard Law School and is now a senior lawyer for a major environmental organization. At some point, the conversation turned to why she had left graduate school. To my utter astonishment, she said it was because it made her feel stupid. After a couple of years of feeling stupid every day, she was ready to do something else.I had thought of her as one of the brightest people I knew and her subsequent career supports that view. What she said bothered me. I kept thinking about it; sometime the next day, it hit me. Science makes me feel stupid too. It’s just that I’ve gotten used to it. So used to it, in fact, that I actively seek out new opportunities to feel stupid. I wouldn’t know what to do without that feeling. I even think it’s supposed to be this way. Let me explain. … ”  Read the essay here at the Water Wired blog:  No Kidding! Essay: ‘The Importance of Stupidity in Scientific Research’

Humans threaten ability of wetlands to keep pace with rising sea levels:  ” … The threat of disappearing coastlines has alerted many to the dangers of climate change. Wetlands in particular — with their ability to buffer coastal cities from floods and storms, and filter out pollution — offer protections that could be lost in the future. But, say co-authors Matt Kirwan and Patrick Megonigal, higher waters aren’t the key factor in wetland demise. Thanks to an intricate system of feedbacks, wetlands are remarkably good at building up their soils to outpace sea level rise. The real issue, they say, is that human structures such as dams and seawalls are disrupting the natural mechanisms that have allowed coastal marshes to survive rising seas since at least the end of the last Ice Age. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Humans Threaten Wetlands’ Ability to Keep Pace With Sea-Level Rise

New NASA iPad app shows our ever-changing earth:  Get an astronaut’s view of how climate change and natural disasters are reshaping the planet in a new iPad app:  ” … The app presents pairs or sets of images of places around the world that have changed dramatically. Some of these locations have suffered a disaster, such as a fire or tsunami, or illustrate the effects of human activities, such as dam building or urban growth. Others document impacts of climate change such as persistent drought and rapidly receding glaciers.  “Images of Change gives users an astronaut’s or Earth explorer’s view of the changes occurring on our planet and demonstrates the important role NASA plays in contributing to the long-term understanding of Earth,” said John Grunsfeld, NASA’s associate administrator for science in Washington. “By utilizing ground-based and space-based observation systems, we are able to better understand how humans are contributing to a changing world.”  … ”  Read more from NASA here:  NASA iPad app shows Earth changing before your eyes

USGS’s Western Mountain Initiative:  Ten years ago, the UN signed a declaration designating December 11 as International Mountain Day. The USGS takes the opportunity to reflect on the contribution of USGS science to the mountain ecosystems here:  The Hills Are Alive With Ecosystem Research: The Western Mountain Initiative

Maven’s XKCD comic pick of the week:  This is my all-time favorite.  I especially love the last two lines:  “This end should point to the ground if you want to go to space.  If it starts pointing towards space, you are having a bad problem and will not go to space today.”  It still makes me chuckle even today.  Yeah, I know that feeling …


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