SCIENCE NEWS: The San Joaquin River Restoration Program, Pacific lamprey returns, Unique partnership for birds and military aircraft, Restoring side channels for salmon, New rules and new tech for groundwater, and more …

Alluvial Fan, from Earth as Art, USGS

In science news this week:

Sierra snowpack and the San Joaquin River Restoration Program:  “In California, we all need snow – even the fish in the San Joaquin River. The San Joaquin River Restoration Program (SJRRP) hosted the 2018 Science Meeting in Sacramento in late August to share research findings and updates about ongoing restoration activities. While much of the meeting’s updates focused on the program’s efforts to restore habitat and rebuild the spring-run salmon population, the talks on snowpack in the Sierra Nevada were also particularly intriguing. An entire session was devoted to research and monitoring in the upper watershed, which described new models and tools for hydrologic forecasting, and served as an important reminder of the San Joaquin River’s primary source. ... ”  Read more from FishBio here:  Sierra snowpack and the San Joaquin River Restoration Program

Clearing the way for Pacific lamprey return to their southern range: ” “Ecstatic.” That’s the word to describe how Damon Goodman felt about the first ever recolonization of Pacific lamprey at the San Luis Obispo Creek and the first time since 1928 the same species was seen upstream of the San Clemente reach in the Carmel River.  2017 was a big year. Not only were lamprey confirmed back in the San Luis Obispo Creek, but the removal of the San Clemente Dam resulted in the species coming back to the lower portion of Carmel River (which was fully confirmed in July 2018).  Goodman, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist with the Arcata office, has been working on solutions for Pacific lamprey in California for 14 years. … ”  Read more from the US FWS here:  Clearing the way for Pacific lamprey return to their southern range

Hawkeyes, tritons and rails? Unique partnership helps rare birds share land and sky with military aircraft: “Sixty-five miles northwest of Los Angeles, Naval Base Ventura County (comprised of operating facilities at Point Mugu, Port Hueneme, and San Nicolas Island) houses a diverse array of tactical aircraft from E-2 Hawkeyes to MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft Systems. But did you know that this Naval Base is also home to other rare aerial wonders from the secretive light-footed Ridgway’s rail to the California least tern?  In fact, the base is a force for conservation of these rare birds, along with other rare wildlife and plants along the central California coast.  Earlier this year, Naval Base Ventura County Natural Resources Conservation Team was awarded the Chief of Naval Operations Award, Secretary of the Navy Award, and the 2018 Secretary of Defense Environmental Award. ... ”  Read more from US FWS here:  Hawkeyes, tritons and rails? Unique partnership helps rare birds share land and sky with military aircraft

Science spotlight: New Issue of Fish and Game Scientific Journal Now Available: “California Fish and Game, Volume 104, Issue 2, is now available online! California Fish and Game is CDFW’s official, quarterly, scientific journal devoted to the conservation and understanding of the flora and fauna of California and surrounding areas, and the eastern Pacific Ocean.  A mallard in flight appears on the cover of the newest installment of the journal. With its iridescent green head and school bus yellow legs, the male mallard is one of the most recognizable species of duck in California. It is also the most abundant breeding species of waterfowl in the state. However, California’s mallard population estimates have generally declined since the mid-1990s. In California mallards: a review, Feldheim et. al synthesizes volumes of research in an effort to identify long-term research needs and monitoring activities to help improve management of this iconic species. ... ”  Read more from the Department of Fish and Wildlife here:  Science spotlight: New Issue of Fish and Game Scientific Journal Now Available

Quality time with computers and fish:  “The quality of the work we do is something we take pride in here at FISHBIO, whether we are brewing beer, tending our garden, teaching children, and especially when we are monitoring fish. This includes making sure we have collected the most accurate data while in the field, have entered numbers correctly into databases, and have run analyses without any errors. For this reason, we spend a lot of time performing quality assurance and quality control, or “QA/QC” with everything we do. Quality assurance can be a daunting task since it involves making sure we have correctly identified, measured, and recorded information for thousands of fish per year. The fall can be an especially hectic time of year, as adult salmon return to our rivers from the ocean to spawn, which keeps us busy in the field. This means that our QA/QC “to do” binder quickly starts filling up, which keeps us busy back at the office too. Here’s a peek behind the scenes at what it takes to accurately document and successfully study Chinook salmon populations in our local rivers. … ”  Read more from FishBio here:  Quality time with computers and fish

Restoring side channels can boost salmon recovery in Puget Sound rivers, new research finds:  “Teasing apart the elements of Puget Sound rivers that matter most to fish, researchers have found that one of the best ways to recover threatened Chinook salmon may be to restore the winding side channels that once gave young fish essential rearing habitat and refuge from high winter flows.  Models were based on fine-scale river mapping and tracking salmon populations across Puget Sound. They showed that habitat restoration projects in the Cedar River southeast of Seattle could boost the number of young Chinook salmon produced by each spawning adult by adding side channel habitat.  Additional side channels and other habitat improvements also appear to help stabilize salmon numbers, making them less vulnerable to flooding or other extreme conditions that may come more often with climate change. … ”  Read more from NOAA Fisheries here:  Restoring side channels can boost salmon recovery in Puget Sound rivers, new research finds

New rules and new technology are giving California farmers and managers a better look at groundwater supplies: “Most areas of California farm country have a significant lack of information about their groundwater use. The water managers responsible for putting California’s depleted aquifers on the path to sustainability now need to get the data to do the job. Running the new agencies created under the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, these managers must first decide what they need to know, and how to get the information.  The measuring gauges they need would ideally give two different views of groundwater reality. First, account for withdrawals by identifying who is taking the , then control the withdrawals to ensure sustainability, now required in 109 of the state’s 517 groundwater basins. Second, monitor the overall health of the aquifer to ensure it is not trespassing over the various boundaries of unsustainability now carved into state law. … ”  Read more from Phys Org here:  New rules and new technology are giving California farmers and managers a better look at groundwater supplies

Competition for shrinking groundwater:  “Groundwater, which has been used to irrigate crops, satiate livestock and quench thirst in general for thousands of years, continues to be a vital resource around the world.  But according to research by Scott Jasechko and Debra Perrone, assistant professors at UC Santa Barbara, and their colleagues at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Arizona, the world’s supply of fresh water may be more limited than previously thought.  Their findings, which appear in the journal Environmental Research Letters, documents the depths at which groundwater transitions from fresh to saline. The paper is the first to compare the depth of groundwater wells to the depth of saline groundwater that exists at the continental scale. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Competition for shrinking groundwater

Unintended consequences of dams and reservoirs:  “Building dams and reservoirs is one of the most common approaches to cope with drought and water shortage. The aim is straightforward: reservoirs can store water during wet periods, and then release it during dry periods. As such, they can stabilize water availability, thereby satisfying water demand and alleviating water shortage. The research team behind the new study was led by professor Giuliano Di Baldassarre at Uppsala University. Their paper shows that increasing reservoir storage capacity can also lead to unintended effects in the long term, and, paradoxically, worsen water shortage. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Unintended consequences of dams and reservoirs

Carbon goes with the flow:  “Many people see the carbon cycle as vertical — CO2 moving up and down between soil, plants and the atmosphere.  However, new Michigan State University research published in the current issue of Geophysical Research Letters, adds a dimension to the vertical perspective by showing how water moves massive amounts of carbon laterally through ecosystems — especially during floods. These findings — which analyzed more than 1,000 watersheds, covering about 75 percent of the contiguous U.S. — have implications for climate change and water quality. ... ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Carbon goes with the flow

Solving Microplastic Pollution Means Reducing, Recycling—and Fundamental Rethinking:  “At several locations around London last winter and spring, researchers stalked the streets counting the number of discarded plastic water bottles they encountered, as if tallying species across a coral reef.  Their aim was to see if a new initiative to enlist businesses where people can refill empty bottles with tap water was making a dent in the trash littering the pavement, says marine biologist Heather Koldewey, who oversaw the research. Bottled water use has doubled in the U.K. in the past 15 years. And notably, plastic bottles are abundant along the banks of the River Thames, which carries them out to sea as they gradually break down into ever smaller fragments, tainting the river and the ocean with microplastics that can invade every level of the food chain. ... ”  Read more from Scientific American here:  Solving Microplastic Pollution Means Reducing, Recycling—and Fundamental Rethinking

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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