Science news and reports: New tool identifies high-priority dams for fish survival, rivers flow differently over gravel beds, Mediterranean and semi-arid ecosystems prove resistant to climate change, some scientists don’t like to share, and more …

Pages from Item_7_Attach_1_By_The_NumbersIn science news this week: New tool identifies high-priority dams in California for fish survival, rivers flow differently over gravel beds, Mediterranean and semi-arid ecosystems prove resistant to climate change, some scientists don’t like to share, NASA soil moisture mapper arrives at launch site, September is fourth month this year to set record for warmth, extreme events and population dynamics, quagga mussel research: six year report, and striking portraits bring bizarre beauty of marine invertebrates to life 

New tool identifies high-priority dams for fish survival: “Scientists have identified 181 California dams that may need to increase water flows to protect native fish downstream. The screening tool developed by the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis, to select “high-priority” dams may be particularly useful during drought years amid competing demands for water.  “It is unpopular in many circles to talk about providing more water for fish during this drought, but to the extent we care about not driving native fish to extinction, we need a strategy to keep our rivers flowing below dams,” said lead author Ted Grantham, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis during the study and currently a research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “The drought will have a major impact on the aquatic environment.” ... ”  Read more from UC Davis here: New tool identifies high-priority dams for fish survival

Rivers flow differently over gravel beds:River beds, where flowing water meets silt, sand and gravel, are critical ecological zones. Yet how water flows in a river with a gravel bed is very different from the traditional model of a sandy river bed, according to a new study that compares their fluid dynamics.  The findings establish new parameters for river modeling that better represent reality, with implications for field researchers and water resource managers.  “The shallow zones where water in rivers interacts with the subsurface are critical environmentally, and how we have modeled those in the past may be radically different from reality,” said Jim Best, a professor of geology, geography and geographic information science at the University of Illinois. “If you’re a river engineer or a geomorphologist or a freshwater biologist, predicting where and when sediment transport is going to occur is very important. This study provides us with a very different set of conditions to look at those environments and potentially manage them.” … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Rivers flow differently over gravel beds

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Mediterranean, semi-arid ecosystems prove resistant to climate change: Climate change predictions for the Middle East, like other arid regions of the world, are alarming. In an area known for its water scarcity, rainfall is expected to decrease even further in the near future, spelling disaster for the functioning of unique ecosystems — hotspots of biodiversity and rich genetic fodder for essential crops.  To test these dire predictions, Prof. Marcelo Sternberg of the Department of Molecular Biology and Ecology of Plants at Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Life Sciences, together with ecologists from the University of Tübingen in Germany, subjected natural ecosystems to an experimental drought over the course of nine years, simulating predicted future climate scenarios. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here: Mediterranean, semi-arid ecosystems prove resistant to climate change

Some scientists don’t like to share:  “Some scientists share better than others. While astronomers and geneticists embrace the concept, the culture of ecology still has a ways to go. Research by Michigan State University, published in the current issue of Bioscience, explores the paradox that although ecologists share findings via scientific journals, they do not share the data on which the studies are built, said Patricia Soranno, MSU fisheries and wildlife professor and co-author of the paper.  “One reason for not sharing data is the fear of being scooped by another scientist; but if all data are available, then everyone is on the same playing field, there are more people to collaborate with, and you will have a bigger impact on science,” said Soranno, an MSU AgBioResearch scientist. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  Some scientists don’t like to share

NASA soil moisture mapper arrives at launch site:  “A NASA spacecraft designed to track Earth’s water in one of its most important, but least recognized, forms — soil moisture — now is at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, to begin final preparations for launch in January.  The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) spacecraft arrived Wednesday at its launch site on California’s central coast after traveling from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The spacecraft will undergo final tests and then be integrated on top of a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket in preparation for a planned Jan. 29 launch. ... ”  Read more from NASA here:  NASA soil moisture mapper arrives at launch site

September is fourth month this year to set record for warmth:  “Despite the cold winter across the eastern United States, 2014 has been a warm year so far, globally. In its September 2014 global climate summary, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center announced that the month was the warmest September on record for the planet. If the surface temperature remains elevated at the same level for the remainder of the year, 2014 will set a new record for the warmest annual average temperature since records began in 1880.  ... ”  Read more from Climate.gov here:  September is fourth month this year to set record for warmth

Extreme Events and Population Dynamics:  “Extreme events (floods, droughts, and fires) have a high public profile and changes in their frequency, magnitude, and duration have been linked to changes in climate. For species populations, these events are often associated with high levels of mortality and major changes in habitat, suggesting a strong influence on population dynamics. At the same time, the life history and reproductive strategy of many species, particularly those associated with highly seasonal and variable climates, may mitigate the long-term effects of extreme events relative to more gradual changes in climate. Given the difficulty of accurately forecasting climate extremes understanding their role in population dynamics is critical for effective management and climate adaptation. In this talk, we review some of the basic determinants of population response to extreme events, using case studies based on long-term data from natural populations in the northeastern region, and present a modeling framework for evaluating the relative impacts of changes in timing, duration, and magnitude. We also consider the potential for human responses to perceived and actual risks from climate extremes to interact with, and in some cases override the direct effects of the events themselves.”  Watch the webinar here:

Quagga mussel research: Six year report:Reclamation has released a report summarizing six years of testing coatings to control the attachment of quagga and zebra mussels to water and power facilities. Since the study began in 2008, Reclamation has tested more than 100 coatings and materials. The testing was conducted at Parker Dam on the Colorado River. Invasive mussels at this location reproduce year-round and have a high growth rate. Each coating system was tested in static and flowing water conditions at the dam. Each coating system was evaluated approximately every six months, about every May and November. To view the report, please visit Reclamation’s Quagga and Zebra Mussel Website at http://www.usbr.gov/mussels/.”   View the video here:

Striking portraits bring bizarre beauty of marine invertebrates to life:  “For a portrait photographer, Susan Middleton has an unusual studio. It’s mobile, for one thing, and it requires the subject to be confined in a small glass box. But the results are gorgeous.  In her new book, Spineless: Portraits of Marine Invertebrates, The Backbone of Life, Middleton gives jellyfish, nudibranchs, and anemones (among many others) the type of photographic treatment usually reserved for sports stars and heads of state. Shot against plain black or white backgrounds, the weird beauty of these creatures—many of them rare species seldom seen by human eyes—really stands out. ... ”  Check it out from WIRED Magazine here:  Striking portraits bring bizarre beauty of marine invertebrates to life

Maven’s XKCD Comic Pick of the Week:

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