Science news and reports: Striped bass: The Central Valley’s most popular predator; Delta smelt’s cousin verging on extinction; The diversity of periodically flowing streams; El Nino advice: Don’t worry about the Blob; and more …

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In science news this week: Striped bass: The Central Valley’s most popular predator; Delta smelt’s unsung cousin seems verging on extinction, too; Researchers find periodically flowing streams in California surprisingly diverse; Refuge benefits from forward-thinking process to conserve California’s Central Valley; Intensity of desert storms may affect ocean phytoplankton; Today in El Nino advice: Don’t worry about the Blob; New elevation for nation’s highest peak

Striped bass: The Central Valley’s most popular predator: When it comes to sport fishing, passions can run high. One of our most viewed blog posts of all time is a post from 2011 called “Changes To California Striped Bass Regulations On The Table.” The post continues to attract a lot of traffic, presumably from anglers worried that new changes to fishing regulations are in the works. As the title implies, this post discussed a proposal by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to loosen fishing restrictions on striped bass. The goal of these proposed changes was to reduce the striped bass population and ease predation pressure on salmonids and Delta smelt in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta. The proposed regulations included raising the daily bag limit for striped bass from two to six fish, with a possession limit of 12 fish, and lowering the minimum size for striped bass from 18 to 12 inches.  … ”  Read more from the FishBio blog here:  Striped bass: The Central Valley’s most popular predator

Delta smelt’s unsung cousin seems verging on extinction, too: “Another native fish of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta appears to be rivaling the cliffhanger status of the delta smelt. Relative to its historical abundance, the lesser-known longfin smelt has experienced an even bigger decline than delta smelt — and may be in bigger trouble — according to trawl surveys of Delta fishes.  In the past two years, catches of adult longfins have been close to zero, and a recent larval survey found alarmingly few of the smelt. The dramatic downturn is likely a result of the drought, as with the tinier delta smelt. ... ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here: Delta smelt’s unsung cousin seems verging on extinction, too

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Small but mighty: Researchers find periodically flowing streams in California surprisingly diverse: When we think water in California, we tend to think big: the Sacramento River, the American, the Delta. But, the state is also filled with small headwater streams that can be particularly easy to overlook when, during the state’s dry summers, they start to resemble a series of pools rather than flowing creeks. Adding insult to injury is a longstanding view that the fish and insect communities in these intermittent streams will be less diverse than those found in the larger rivers they run into.  It is against this backdrop that scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, with support from the California Institute for Water Resources, set out to study some small creeks in the northern part of the state. ... ”  Read more from The Confluence here:  Small but mighty: Researchers find periodically flowing streams in California surprisingly diverse

Refuge benefits from forward-thinking process to conserve California’s Central Valley:  “For migrating birds, waterfowl and other wildlife, national wildlife refuges in California’s Central Valley likely appear as welcomed islands of calm in a shifting sea of agriculture. For managers of the Service’s 10 refuges and six wildlife management areas in the Central Valley, the outlook is less welcoming. Consecutive years of severe drought and its associated water problems have brought managers and biologists face-to-face with climate change and new challenges to managing wildlife habitats across a landscape nearly the size of West Virginia. For partner agencies and organizations in the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC), the Central Valley is a global biodiversity hot-spot and a priority for conservation.  … ”  Read more from Field Notes here:  Refuge benefits from forward-thinking process to conserve California’s Central Valley

Intensity of desert storms may affect ocean phytoplankton:  “Each spring, powerful dust storms in the deserts of Mongolia and northern China send thick clouds of particles into the atmosphere. Eastward winds sweep these particles as far as the Pacific, where dust ultimately settles in the open ocean. This desert dust contains, among other minerals, iron — an essential nutrient for hundreds of species of phytoplankton that make up the ocean’s food base.  Now scientists at MIT, Columbia University, and Florida State University have determined that once iron is deposited in the ocean, it has a very short residence time, spending only six months in surface waters before sinking into the deep ocean. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Intensity of desert storms may affect ocean phytoplankton

Today in El Nino advice: Don’t worry about the Blob:  “Above is an image, generated on Monday, of current sea surface temperature anomalies — that is, the difference between the current temperature and the average temperature between 1961-1990. It shows the hottest temperatures in the North Pacific Ocean since we started keeping records. That’s following July, which was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth. Just about everything about this picture is historically unprecedented.  The ocean, says University of Washington Research Meteorologist Nicholas Bond, is prepartying. We’ve seen widespread above-average temperatures in the North Pacific before (although never like anything this high), but only following El Niños, like in 1958 and 1998. Those cases, Bond says, were “more of a hangover from El Niño.” Now, he says, with a historically strong El Niño just beginning, “we’re going into the party with a snootful.” … ”  Read more from Bay Nature here:  Today in El Nino advice: Don’t worry about the Blob

New elevation for nation’s highest peak: A new, official height for Denali has been measured at 20,310 feet, just 10 feet less than the previous elevation of 20,320 feet which was established using 1950’s era technology.  With this slightly lower elevation, has the tallest mountain in North America shrunk? No, but advances in technology to better measure the elevation at the surface of the Earth have resulted in a more accurate summit height of Alaska’s natural treasure.  “No place draws more public attention to its exact elevation than the highest peak of a continent. Knowing the height of Denali is precisely 20,310 feet has important value to earth scientists, geographers, airplane pilots, mountaineers and the general public. It is inspiring to think we can measure this magnificent peak with such accuracy,” said Suzette Kimball, USGS acting director. “This is a feeling everyone can share, whether you happen to be an armchair explorer or an experienced mountain climber.” ... ”  Read more from the USGS here:  New elevation for nation’s highest peak

Maven’s XKCD Comic Pick of the Week …

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About Science News and Reports: This weekly feature, posted every Thursday, is a collection of the latest scientific research and reports with a focus on relevant issues to the Delta and to California water, although other issues such as climate change are sometimes included. Do you have an item to be included here? Submissions of relevant research and other materials is welcome. Email Maven.

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