SCIENCE NEWS: The Spring-run Salmon Saga of the San Joaquin; How researchers flinging salmon inadvertently spurred tree growth; What’s in a scientific name? A story; and more …

Photosynthesis; Photo courtesy Pacific Northwest National Labs

In science news this week:

The Spring-run Salmon Saga of the San Joaquin:  “We’ve recently reported on the long and fascinating history of Friant Dam, the collapse of San Joaquin River salmon populations, and the groundbreaking lawsuit that resulted in the San Joaquin River Restoration Program (SJRRP), one of the most ambitious river restoration projects in the country. In August, the SJRRP Science Meeting provided updates on the program’s efforts to restore habitat and rebuild the spring-run salmon population in the river. After nearly 10 years since the program began, the Science Meeting highlighted results of restoration efforts that have been equal parts remarkable and challenging. Despite year-round flows and hatchery releases of up to 200,000 juvenile fish for the last several years, no adult spring-run Chinook salmon have returned to the Restoration Area below Friant Dam. However, the SJRRP has produced several other encouraging outcomes, including the first documented Chinook salmon spawning event in the river in over 60 years. … ”  Read more from FishBio here:  The Spring-run Salmon Saga of the San Joaquin

Spawn of the Living Dead:  “As October draws to a close, most of us have spent the past few weeks surrounded by images of Halloween monsters. Whether flipping past TV horror movies or pausing to admire spooky decorations, we find our day-to-day lives briefly besieged by vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and, of course, zombies. While it’s all just festive fun and games for most people, here at FISHBIO we know one thing: zombies are real, and they are here. But there’s no need to pack up your car and head for the hills – these are the aquatic undead, and their arrival is actually a good thing. … ”  Read more from FishBio here:  Spawn of the Living Dead

CDFW’s Annual Egg Take Results in Big Haul on the Little Truckee River:  “Each October, conditions permitting, CDFW staff and volunteers from the California Inland Fisheries Foundation, Inc. and Kokanee Power descend on the Little Truckee River, just upstream from Stampede Reservoir near Truckee, and get to work on the annual Kokanee Egg Take.  Using seine nets and electrofishing techniques to corral and capture adult Kokanee Salmon, staff and volunteers then collect eggs and milt (fish semen) add them together in specific ratios to complete the spawning process. The fertilized eggs are carried to an egg care station on the side of river where they are measured, enumerated, disinfected and finally placed in containers to be transferred to the San Joaquin Hatchery. … ”  Read more from the Department of Fish and Wildlife here:  CDFW’s Annual Egg Take Results in Big Haul on the Little Truckee River

Study uses seismic noise to track water levels in underground aquifers:  “Seismic noise — the low-level vibrations caused by everything from subway trains to waves crashing on the beach — is most often something seismologists work to avoid. They factor it out of models and create algorithms aimed at eliminating it so they can identify the signals of earthquakes.  But Tim Clements thinks it might be a tool to monitor one of the most precious resources in the world — water.  A graduate student working in the lab of Assistant Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences Marine Denolle, Clements is the lead author of a recent study that used seismic noise to measure the size and water levels in underground aquifers in California. ... ”  Read more from The Harvard Gazette here:  Study uses seismic noise to track water levels in underground aquifers

How researchers flinging salmon inadvertently spurred tree growth:  “How much salmon would scientists sling if scientists could sling salmon? For one research team, the question isn’t hypothetical, and the answer is … tons.  During 20 years of monitoring salmon populations in one southwest Alaskan stream, ecologists have found and flung a total 267,620 kilograms of dead fish into the forest. Those rotting carcasses leeched enough nutrients to speed up tree growth, researchers report October 23 in Ecology. … ”  Read more from Science News here:  How researchers flinging salmon inadvertently spurred tree growth

When Scientists Experiment With Comedy, Results Are Riotous:  “There’s a common stereotype that scientists aren’t funny — they’re smart, anti-social, maybe a little odd, but definitely not funny.  “I’m a professor, I’ve seen the glaze many times and people falling asleep,” said Fleur Ferro, who teaches biology at the Community College of Denver.  But it doesn’t have to be that way, Ferro said.  Ferro briefly majored in theater, and amongst friends and colleagues, she is hilarious. She wanted to bring that side of her personality to the classroom.  Enter Science Riot. ... ”  Read more from KUNC here:  When Scientists Experiment With Comedy, Results Are Riotous

What’s in a scientific name? A story.  “I am in the rather unusual position where I have discovered a new marine species — and I get to name it. The process has been, in some ways, similar to how one names a baby. Well, similar if you disregard the fact that instead of a last and a first name, the baby has to be given a two-part Latin name with a genus and species. Oh, and you have to submit a sample of said baby to a natural history museum, according to conventions set by an international body of scientists and 350 years of taxonomic tradition started by an old Swedish patriarch named Carl Linnaeus.  As a lab instructor in college-level biology classes, I find my students’ least favorite assignments tend to be learning scientific species names. They complain that it is rote memorization of long, obscure, and hard-to-spell words. Some think scientific names are redundant — why use a name like, “Columba livia” when “pigeon” is as effective, and in English to boot? Other students think scientific names are just another way for academics to be snobs. ... ”  Read more from Bay Nature here:  What’s in a scientific name? A story.

Big data project explores predictability of climate conditions years in advance: “As scientists work to forecast climate patterns from years to as much as a decade in advance, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has created a vast new set of computer simulations to help identify the types of events that are most predictable.  For example, an early analysis of the data set, which contains a staggering 24,800 simulated years of climate information, finds there is potential to predict sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic, which are tied to climate conditions across Europe and Asia. The analysis also finds that multi-year precipitation anomalies — wetter- or drier-than-average conditions — over parts of Africa, including the Sahel, as well Europe and Eurasia, may be predictable as well.  The NCAR scientists who led the effort, called the Decadal Prediction Large Ensemble (DPLE), expect other areas of predictability to emerge as experts from across a wide range of fields begin to dig into the data set, which is freely available to the research community. … ”  Read more from NCAR here:  Big data project explores predictability of climate conditions years in advance

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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