Science news and reports: Tough choices in dry conditions, pop-up wetlands, Dutch Slough restoration, State of the Estuary conference, Hamilton Airfield restoration, urban biodiversity and a cheatsheet for California water


Satellite Image from January 18

Tough choices in these dry conditions:  The FishBio blog explores the difficulty:  “In times of extreme conditions, such as the current state of water scarcity in California, some sacrifices and tradeoffs inevitably have to be made. For example, the recent choice to reduce river flows in northern California is a necessary first step toward water conservation. However, the timing of the flow reductions resulted in sacrificing fall-run Chinook salmon, and an important fishing industry, in favor of winter-run Chinook salmon and steelhead, which are listed under the Endangered Species Act. … ”  Read more from the FishBio blog here:  Tough choices in dry conditions

“Pop-up” wetlands help birds through drought:  “California’s severe drought is taking a toll on wildlife around the state. Millions of birds migrate through this time of year, but the waterways and wetlands they rely on are largely dry.  In the Sacramento Valley, one environmental group is working with farmers and citizen scientists to provide some help by creating temporary “pop-up” wetlands.  Winter is always a busy bird season at Douglas Thomas’s rice farm in Olivehurst, California, about 40 miles north of Sacramento.  “Those fields behind there will fill with geese,” he says. “It’s just so loud. You can’t sleep at night. The first couple nights are pretty rough and I’m actually cussing them even though I love them.” … ”  Read more from Quest:  During Drought, Pop-Up Wetlands Give Birds a Break

Weekly Science News

Click here for more editions of Science News.

Dutch Slough restoration project report available for public comment:As California focuses in on the Delta and its waterways, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has released the Dutch Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration Project Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR.) The report is available online for a 45-day comment period which ends on Friday March 7, 2014. The SEIR covers design details that have been refined since the Project’s EIR was finalized in 2010. “Not only is the Dutch Slough Restoration Project truly comprehensive in its scope, but it is identified as an early action project in the 2009 water legislation package,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “One of the primary goals directed by the water package’s new policy is to restore the Delta, and this project shows that new policy in action.”  Read more here: DWR Dutch Slough Restoration Project Report Available for Public Comment

Did you miss this year's State of the Estuary conference?  You're in luck!  This month's ESTUARY News summarizes all the sessions which covered a wide range of topics from wetland restoration to contaminants of emerging concern, not to mention the latest politics of water development and conservation.  You can find all the articles here:  100 Experts Take Stock of Estuary Health

Former Hamilton Airfield destined to be wetland habitat:  “Give it a decade or two and the former Hamilton Airfield will be one of the most magnificent outdoor spaces in the Bay Area: several hundred acres of upland, lowland and tidal marsh habitat, dotted with oak and buckeye, bursting with toyon and snowberry, carved by tidal channels, and bordered by a trail and viewing stations.  But right now it is really a very magnificent amount of dirt. … ”  Read more from Bay-Nature here:  Helping Restore Hamilton Wetland from the Ground Up

Yerba Buena Island yields big surprises for botanist:  “For Mike Wood, 1995 was the year of discovery. That was the year the U.S. Navy found him, a well-traveled botanist with a penchant for history, and commissioned him to undertake a rare plant survey of Yerba Buena Island, as they prepared to withdraw from the base. For the Navy, the rare plant survey was one part of a required, environmental impact review that would primarily be used to assess any groundwater or soil contamination from hazardous materials. But that original survey has since been adapted and used in the planning process for the redevelopment of Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island.  Like thousands of other Bay Area residents, Wood had driven through the five-lane Yerba Buena tunnel countless times. He’d never thought much of the scenery, since from the Bay Bridge, as he approached that gaping mouth drilled through the island’s core, all he could see was a forest of French broom and eucalyptus.  But he accepted the Navy’s proposal, thinking it would at the very least, be neat for the views. And over the next two years, as he explored each corner of the island, treading lightly through dense vegetation and negotiating steep slopes along the sandstone cliffs, he found himself — botanically — very, very surprised. … ”  Read more from Bay-Nature here:  A Botanist, a Bay Area Island and a Big Surprise

California Water for dummies:  “Here’s a primer that avoids wading into cubic-feet-per-second, appropriative water rights, overdraft, conjunctive water use and the like,” says the California Water Blog:  The ultimate California water cheat sheet

Report: Reducing Methylmercury in the Foodwebs of the San Francisco Bay and its Watersheds:  “San Francisco Bay (California, USA) and its local watersheds present an interesting case study in estuarine mercury (Hg) contamination. This review focuses on the most promising avenues for attempting to reduce methylmercury (MeHg) contamination in Bay Area aquatic food webs and identifying the scientific information that is most urgently needed to support these efforts. Concern for human exposure to MeHg in the region has led to advisories for consumption of sport fish. Striped bass from the Bay have the highest average Hg concentration measured for this species in USA estuaries, and this degree of contamination has been constant for the past 40 years. Similarly, largemouth bass in some Bay Area reservoirs have some of the highest Hg concentrations observed in the entire US. Bay Area wildlife, particularly birds, face potential impacts to reproduction based on Hg concentrations in the tissues of several Bay species. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Estuary Institute here:  Reducing Methylmercury in the Foodwebs of the San Francisco Bay and its Watersheds

Urban environments can support biodiversity:On a crowded planet, protecting species in their natural habitat is proving increasingly difficult. Humans continue to expand their networks of cities, towns and farms worldwide. By 2030, cities are expected to occupy three times as much land as they did in 2010. Remaining natural habitats are now often a fragment caught in this global web of cities connected by transportation networks. With the number of species going extinct on the rise, it is necessary to consider the potential of urban environments to serve as refuges for the survivors. In 2010 the Convention on Biological Diversity commissioned a new global assessment of the state of biodiversity in urban areas. Their findings, published in the book Cities and Biodiversity Outlook, were not entirely bleak. It turns out that cities support biodiversity and provide opportunities for innovative approaches to conservation. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here: Biodiversity can flourish on an urban planet

Identifying and managing the risks of conservation projects:  “Conservation projects occur under many types of uncertainty. Where this uncertainty can affect achievement of a project’s objectives, there is risk. For conservation projects, there are likely to be risks in both social and environmental space, ranging from invasive species outbreaks and climate-driven events like coral bleaching, to community reactions, policy changes, and insecure or inadequate funding streams. As with all complex projects, the delivery of conservation outcomes is influenced by our capacity to assess the risks associated with our investments, and by our ability to manage and respond to these risks through time.  … ”  Read more from the Cool Green Science blog here: Risky Conservation: How to Identify and Manage It

Maven's XKCD Comic pick of the week:  Note:  The charm of this week's comic are the ‘exhibits' you can click on which, unfortunately, doesn't come through in the hot linking process, so you'll have to click through to the XKCD website for that functionality.  Well worth the trip, if you ask me …

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: