SCIENCE NEWS: Salmon spawn fierce debate over protecting endangered species, thanks to a single gene; A winter-run reboot in Battle Creek; Experimentation essential in saving degraded land; “Untuning” water and what it could mean for water treatment; and more …

St. John River

In science news this week: Salmon spawn fierce debate over protecting endangered species, thanks to a single gene; A winter-run reboot in Battle Creek; Experimentation essential in saving Earth’s degraded land; Beavers do ‘dam’ good work cleaning water; Measuring snow persistence can help streamflow; “Untuning” water and what it could mean for water treatment

Salmon spawn fierce debate over protecting endangered species, thanks to a single gene:  “For 40 years, Leaf Hillman, a ceremonial leader of California’s Karuk Tribe, has danced on the banks of the Klamath River. Following the tradition of his ancestors, he implores the salmon that have long sustained his tribe to return from the sea.  Chinook, or king, salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) arrive in two waves, in spring and fall, to spawn in freshwater. But the Karuk hold the spring arrivals in “special esteem,” Hillman says. The fish leave saltwater in March, having packed enough fat onto their meter-long bodies to sustain them for months, until they mature and spawn far up the river. Fall Chinook spawn lower down in the watershed and mature in the ocean before heading upstream, so they don’t carry as much fat.  The spring runs were historically larger, but dams built on the Klamath between 1912 and 1964 denied these so-called springers access to hundreds of kilometers of spawning habitat in the uppermost tributaries. … ”  Read more from Science Magazine here:  Salmon spawn fierce debate over protecting endangered species, thanks to a single gene

A winter-run reboot in Battle Creek:  “Sometimes you don’t want to be listed in the “Top Ten,” especially when it comes to endangered species. A report published last year by NOAA Fisheries (2017) revealed that of all the species under their protection, winter-run Chinook salmon are one of eight species in the country most at risk of extinction in the near future because of rapid population decline and habitat loss. These species were identified as part of NOAA’s Species in the Spotlight initiative, which was launched in 2015 to bring more awareness and resources to critically at-risk species. The report, a biennial summary for Congress of efforts to recover endangered species, highlighted an urgent need for agency resources and human intervention to stabilize the winter-run Chinook salmon population and prevent extinction. Recovery planning efforts for winter-run included five key actions: 1) improve management of Shasta Reservoir coldwater storage; 2) restore Battle Creek and reintroduce winter-run; 3) reintroduce winter-run in the McCloud River; 4) improve Yolo Bypass fish habitat and passage; and 5) manage Delta conditions in winter and early spring to improve juvenile survival. The reintroduction of winter-run smolts into Battle Creek earlier this year shows progress is already being made towards these actions. … ”  Read more from FishBio here:  A winter-run reboot in Battle Creek

Experimentation essential in saving Earth’s degraded land:  “Global land degradation is now so severe that hundreds of millions of hectares of land need to be restored back to health. Under the Bonn Challenge, nations have taken on the task of restoring 350 million hectares of degraded land around the globe by 2030.  In research published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, University of Adelaide scientists and their colleagues from the Kunming Institute of Botany and the World Agroforestry Centre in China, have proposed improving techniques for restoring by systematically embedding experiments into largescale activities and projects. ... ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  Experimentation essential in saving Earth’s degraded land

Beavers do ‘dam’ good work cleaning water:  “Beavers could help clean up polluted rivers and stem the loss of valuable soils from farms, new research shows.  The study, undertaken by scientists at the University of Exeter using a captive beaver trial run by the Devon Wildlife Trust, has demonstrated the significant impact the animals have had on reducing the flow of tonnes of soil and nutrients from nearby fields into a local river system.  The research, led by hydrologist Professor Richard Brazier, found that the work of a single family of beavers had removed high levels of sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus from the water that flowed through their 2.5 hectare enclosure. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Beavers do ‘dam’ good work cleaning water

Measuring snow persistence can help streamflow:  “With warming climates around the world, many regions are experiencing changes in snow accumulation and persistence. Historically, researchers and water managers have used snow accumulation amounts to predict streamflow, but this can be challenging to measure across mountain environments.  In a new study, a team of researchers at Colorado State University found that snow persistence — the amount of time snow remains on the ground — can be used to map patterns of annual streamflow in dry parts of the western United States. The ultimate goal of this research is to determine how melting snow affects the flow of rivers and streams, which has an impact on agriculture, recreation and people’s everyday lives. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Measuring snow persistence can help streamflow

“Untuning” water and what it could mean for water treatment:  “This is no surprise to anyone who reads Environmental Monitor, but: it’s really very difficult to treat water. There are many reasons this is true—an almost endless stream of compounds from industrial chemicals to pharmaceuticals that can contaminate water, for example, which can be difficult to detect, let alone remove, one by one. However, even the basic properties of water make it tough to treat.  Groundwater is difficult to reach for humans, but relatively easily accessed by contaminants. Surface waters are easier for us to access and treat, but they are constantly in motion. Just like the water that runs out of the tap every day, the water in a stream is different from moment to moment, and may need different treatment to be safe for drinking. … ”  Read more from Environmental Monitor here:  “Untuning” water and what it could mean for water treatment

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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