SCIENCE NEWS: NASA satellites reveal major shifts in global fresh water; Forest loss in one part of the US can harm trees on the opposite coast; Conservation conundrum: Is focusing on a single species a good strategy?; Big fish produce disproportionally more and bigger eggs; and more …

Phytoplankton bloom in the Baltic Sea

NASA satellites reveal major shifts in global fresh water:  “In a first-of-its-kind study, scientists have combined an array of NASA satellite observations of Earth with data on human activities to map locations where freshwater is changing around the globe and why.  The study, published today in the journal Nature, finds that Earth’s wet land areas are getting wetter and dry areas are getting drier due to a variety of factors, including human water management, climate change and natural cycles. … ”  Read more from NASA here:  NASA satellites reveal major shifts in global fresh water

Grace FO will help monitor droughts:  “You may not notice water in the ground under your feet, but it plays an important role in keeping you alive. Plants draw water from soil into their roots and use it to grow. If there’s not enough, the resulting drought may have impacts that spread across local water supplies, regional agriculture and even international food prices. NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission was the first satellite system to directly measure global changes in the water stored underground in the world’s largest aquifers. GRACE Follow-On, scheduled to launch this month, will continue this important task. … ”  Read more from NASA here:  Grace FO will help monitor droughts

Forest loss in one part of the US can harm trees on the opposite coast:  “Large swaths of U.S. forests are vulnerable to drought, forest fires and disease. Many local impacts of forest loss are well known: drier soils, stronger winds, increased erosion, loss of shade and habitat. But if a whole forest disappears, new research shows, this has ricocheting effects in the atmosphere that can affect vegetation on the other side of the country.  A University of Washington-led study published May 16 in Environmental Research Letters shows that forest die-offs in specific regions of the United States can influence in other parts of the country. The largest impacts seen were from losing forest cover in California, a region that is currently experiencing dramatic tree mortality. ... ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  Forest loss in one part of the US can harm trees on the opposite coast

Conservation conundrum: Is focusing on a single species a good strategy? Conservationists often criticize state fish and game departments for focusing single-mindedly on one species to the detriment of everything else — for instance, improving habitat for elk, which then browse down habitat for songbirds. But what if conservationists — who don’t have that traditional hook-and-bullet mindset — nonetheless inadvertently do much the same thing?  That’s one implication of new research looking at the umbrella species concept, one of the fundamental ideas driving conservation efforts worldwide. It’s the idea routinely advocated by conservationists that establishing and managing protected areas for the benefit of one surrogate species — from gorillas to grizzly bears — will also indirectly benefit a host of other, less charismatic species sharing the same habitat. “The umbrella species concept is an appealing shortcut,” says Jason Carlisle, who conducted the research as a doctoral candidate at the University of Wyoming. But the complications quickly pile up. … ”  Read more from Yale 360 here:  Conservation conundrum: Is focusing on a single species a good strategy? 

Sweet present, rich past: Berry grower embraces conservation, history:  “It would be easy to call Carolyn Read a preservationist and leave it at that. How many people would settle in a ranch house built 130 years ago and raise a family there? Or call her a conservationist. Read has made sure that native plants that were in danger of getting choked out by other invasives are again thriving in the arid reaches of her San Diego-area ranch.  Make sure you give Read credit for her business sense, too. She started a horse-themed magazine more than 30 years ago that remains an award-winning publication on the West Coast.  She’s also raising and selling boysenberries. … ”  Read more from the US FWS here:  Sweet present, rich past: Berry grower embraces conservation, history

Big fish produce disproportionally more and bigger eggs:  “What difference does it make whether an angler catches one big fish or two smaller fish, each half its weight? Experts assumed that big and small fish invest the same proportion of their energy to make eggs. But a new report in Science by a Smithsonian biologist and colleagues shows that plus-sized females invest disproportionately more in the number of eggs and the size of individual eggs. Therefore, taking a single big fish has a bigger impact on the fish population than taking multiple small ones.  “Our results are critical for fisheries management: They tell us to reduce fishing pressure on large fish rather than smaller ones in order to maintain and replenish stocks,” said staff scientist D. Ross Robertson at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama. “We need to focus on reducing fishing pressure on large fish rather than exploiting them more heavily than small fish.” … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Big fish produce disproportionally more and bigger eggs

Mapping trends in open surface water bodies in the US:  “By September of 2011, the Southern Great Plains of the United States had been in the grip of an intense drought for months. Crops withered in fields as water supplies dwindled and failed and wildfires raged and destroyed farmland, wilderness areas, and homes. The fall forecast that year didn’t look much better; La Niña had come, bringing below-normal precipitation and above-normal temperatures with it. There was little relief in sight.  2012 wasn’t much better. Over that baking summer, much of the US suffered through the worst drought in 50 years, with low harvest rates in the Midwest taking place earlier than ever before. Food production was at a low, and so was the Mississippi River. Even the news that Hurricane Isaac was moving inland came as something of a relief to many in the Midwest, who were hoping for a respite from the relentless drought. … ”  Read more from Environmental Monitor here:  Mapping trends in open surface water bodies in the US

Photo essay:  Recovering wildlife in the west:  “The Pacific Southwest Region of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service is working with federal and state partners, ranchers, developers and other private landowners to protect and recover listed species.  This work, which takes a great deal of effort, focuses on one main goal: working to ensure that these species of wildlife are around for future generations.  We’re proud to present this photo gallery which highlights just a few of the plants and animals that the region and its many partners are working to protect, and the conservation efforts for species that are on the road to recovery.”  View the photo gallery from US FWS here:  Photo essay:  Recovering wildlife in the west

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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