Science news and reports: Salmon, climate change and trout, Habitat Conservation Plans, biodiversity, carbon dioxide and more, plus Bugs to Go

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Spring in the Gulf of Alaska
Weekly Science News
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Big Chico Creek: A swim in the park:  “Perhaps no natural feature is more prominent in the minds of Chico, California, residents than the beloved Big Chico Creek. Like a blue lifeline, the small creek winds its way from the Sierra foothills to the Sacramento River, flanked on both sides by one of the country’s largest municipal parks extending more than 11 miles upstream from downtown Chico. Often lined with swimmers and sunseekers during the summer months, Big Chico Creek is one of several eastside tributaries to the Sacramento River where the limit of migration for anadromous fishes is marked by natural geologic features, rather than by dams or other manmade structures. … ”  Read more from the FishBio blog here: A swim in the park

Wild coho may seek genetic diversity in mate choice:  “A new study by researchers at Oregon State University suggests that wild coho salmon that choose mates with disease-resistant genes different from their own are more likely to produce greater numbers of adult offspring returning to the river some three years later. The researchers also found that hatchery-reared coho – for some unknown reason – do not appear to have the same ability to select mates that are genetically diverse, which may, in part, explain their comparative lower reproductive success. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here: Wild coho may seek genetic diversity in mate choice

Climate Change Accelerates Hybridization between Native and Invasive Species of Trout: “Scientists have discovered that the rapid spread of hybridization between a native species and an invasive species of trout in the wild is strongly linked to changes in climate.  In the study, stream temperature warming over the past several decades and decreases in spring flow over the same time period contributed to the spread of hybridization between native westslope cutthroat trout and introduced rainbow trout – the world’s most widely introduced invasive fish species –across the Flathead River system in Montana and British Columbia, Canada.  Experts have long predicted that climate change could decrease worldwide biodiversity through cross-breeding between invasive and native species, but this study is the first to directly and scientifically support this assumption. The study, published today in Nature Climate Change, was based on 30 years of research by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Montana, and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. … ”  Read more from the USGS here:  Climate Change Accelerates Hybridization between Native and Invasive Species of Trout

Habitat Conservation Plans:  Good for Wildlife – Good for People:  “The Endangered Species Act (Act) is a hallmark of the United States’ efforts to conserve its diversity of fish, wildlife and plants. Since its passage in 1973, the Act has been amended several times in response to emerging issues. Section 10 of the Act was amended in late 1982 to provide a mechanism for non-federal landowners to legally disturb or harm (referred to as “take”) federally listed threatened or endangered species incidental to lawful activities, if the anticipated impacts were counterbalanced by other actions that would benefit the species. Measures to mitigate the project impacts would be outlined in a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The first HCP, San Bruno Mountain in northern California, was permitted in March 1983.  … ”  Continue reading from Fish & Wildlife Service Field Notes here:  Habitat Conservation Plans:  Good for Wildlife – Good for People

New biodiversity study throws out controversial scientific theory:Researchers have today released ground-breaking findings that dismiss the ‘Neutral Theory of Biodiversity’. The theory has dominated biodiversity research for the past decade, and been advocated as a tool for conservation and management efforts.  Professor Sean Connolly from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) at James Cook University (JCU) is the lead author of the international study, which he says overturns the long-used theory by employing a novel mathematical method. It is the largest study of its kind, covering a broad range of marine ecosystems on Earth.  “The study has important implications for how marine conservation areas are managed,” Professor Connolly says. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  New biodiversity study throws out controversial scientific theory

A New Paradigm For Conservation: Consider the Countryside: Research ecologists love islands because they are about as perfect as it gets in the natural world to a controlled experiment.  Of course, Charles Darwin had his findings from the Galapagos Islands. And then there was the famous (albeit horrifying) experiment that E.O. Wilson and Robert MacArthur carried out in the Florida keys where they blitzed some islands with methyl bromide to exterminate arthropod species and observe their return. … ”  Read more from Bay-Nature here: A New Paradigm For Conservation: Consider the Countryside

“Bugs To Go” – a Portable Application for People Curious About Water Critters:  “What do you call the stuff at the bottom of a river or stream?  Most of us call it “mud.” But if you are a biologist, it’s the “benthic community” – and a community it is, teeming with all sorts of creatures, from microscopic bacteria to aquatic worms and the larvae of more familiar bugs such as mayflies and dragonflies living on the stream bottom’s sediment, rocks and submerged logs.  It’s a menagerie that’s important to the larger food chain in the environment, providing food for fish, frogs, birds and even bats, breaking down organic debris and recycling nutrients.  If you are a volunteer water quality monitor, a school biology teacher, an avid fisherman or just naturally curious about the world around you, there’s a new portable tool to learn more about these critters. We like to call it “Bugs To Go.” … ”  Find out more here:  Bugs To Go

Dryland ecosystems emerge as driver in global carbon cycle:Dryland ecosystems, which include deserts to dry-shrublands, play a more important role in the global carbon cycle than previously thought. In fact, they have emerged as one of its drivers, says Montana State University faculty member Ben Poulter. Surprised by the discovery, Poulter and his collaborators explained their findings in Nature. At the same time, they urged global ecologists to include the emerging role of dryland ecosystems in their research. Nature is a weekly international journal that publishes peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Dryland ecosystems emerge as driver in global carbon cycle

Tracking carbon dioxide across the globe:Between burning fossil fuels and clearing forests, humans emit far more carbon dioxide than Earth’s natural physical and biological processes can remove from the atmosphere. Fundamental to any attempts to understand, slow, or reverse the build up of atmospheric carbon dioxide is a global accounting of where it’s released and stored. That’s why scientists at NOAA’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory created CarbonTracker: a carbon dioxide measuring and modeling system that tracks sources and sinks around the globe.   … ”  Read more from Climate.gov here:   Tracking carbon dioxide across the globe

Chemical properties of insoluble precipitation residue particles:  This article provides an in-depth analysis of resuspended residues from precipitation samples collected at a remote site in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California during the 2009-2011 winter seasons. These residues may be used as a benchmark for classification of insoluble precipitation. Knowledge of the precipitation chemistry of insoluble residues coupled with meteorological and cloud microphysical measurements will ultimately improve our understanding of the link between aerosols, clouds, and precipitation.  This paper represents a significant milestone from the CalWater experiment, which is led by members of UCSD/Scripps’ new Centers on aerosols (CAICE) and extreme events (CW3E), as well as NOAA, DOE, NASA, USGS. It also highlights the multi-disciplinary research stimulated by CalWater, and the partnerships between key researchers across organizations. The lead author, Jessie Creamean, received her PhD in atmospheric chemistry from UCSD under Kim Prather using CalWater data, and is now bringing that expertise to a primarily meteorological group in NOAA as she pursues emerging topics in aerosol-precipitation interactions in collaboration with CW3E scientists.”  Download a copy of the paper from the Center for Western Weather Extremes here: Chemical properties of insoluble precipitation residue particles

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