SCIENCE NEWS: Human actions impact wild salmon’s ability to evolve; A worm, a parasite, and a salmon; Wildfire ash could trap mercury; Tracking aquifer water with seismic noise; and more …

Owens pupfish; Photo by USFWS

In science news this week:

Human actions impact wild salmon’s ability to evolve:  “Once spring-run chinook salmon disappear, they are not likely to re-emerge, indicates genetic analysis of the revered wild fish in a study led by the University of California, Davis. Prompt conservation action could preserve spring-run chinook, as well as their evolutionary potential.  The study, published online today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, illustrates that when human actions alter the characteristics, or “phenotypes,” of wild species, these changes can become irreversible. This can have long-term evolutionary consequences because natural phenotypic variation buffers species from environmental changes and is a fundamental prerequisite for future evolution. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Human actions impact wild salmon’s ability to evolve

A worm, a parasite, and a salmon:  Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office employs statistician to understand relationship of fish to diseases and parasites:  “Understanding the worm’s lifecycle is critical in understanding their contribution to the infection and mortality of the Chinook salmon in the Klamath River since the early 2000s; an infection rate that reached 100 percent of fish in some samples since 2005.  To unravel the mystery, Nicholas Hetrick, the Fish and Aquatic Conservation lead for the Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office since 2004, recognized early on the need to develop a prevalence of infection study on the parasite (Ceratonova shasta), its impact on juvenile salmon population levels, and how the distribution of polychaete worms factored in. … ”  Read more from the US Fish & Wildlife Service here:  A worm, a parasite, and a salmon

California’s 2018 wildfires have emitted a year’s worth of power pollution:  “California’s record-breaking 2018 wildfire season has released emissions equivalent to about 68 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – equal to the emissions produced from generating one year’s worth of electricity in the state, or about 15 percent of California’s total annual emissions, according to a new statement by the U.S. Department of the Interior.  The Camp and Woolsey fires alone produced emissions equivalent to about 5.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, according to a preliminary analysis conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), upon which the DOI statement is based. … ”  Read more from Yale 360 here:  California’s 2018 wildfires have emitted a year’s worth of power pollution

Wildfire ash could trap mercury:  “In the summers of 2017 and 2018, heat waves and drought conditions spawned hundreds of wildfires in the western U.S. And in November, two more devastating wildfires broke out in California, scorching thousands of acres of forest, destroying homes and even claiming lives. Now, researchers studying ash from recent California wildfires report in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology that burned material in forests might help sequester mercury that otherwise would be released into the environment. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Wildfire ash could trap mercury

Can rice filter water from ag fields?  “Rice is a staple food crop of 20 percent of the world’s population. It’s also grown on every continent except Antarctica.  While it’s an important part of our diets, new research shows that plants can be used in a different way, too: to clean runoff from farms before it gets into rivers, lakes, and streams.  This idea came to Matt Moore, a USDA research ecologist, because he, himself, comes from a family of farmers. He was trying to figure out a way to address the unintended issue of runoff. As drains from , the pesticides used on those fields can be carried along. Moore wanted to stop pesticides from getting into water outside the farm in a way that was easy and cost-efficient for farmers. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  Can rice filter water from ag fields?

Saltier waterways are creating dangerous ‘chemical cocktails’: “A recent study led by University of Maryland researchers found that streams and rivers across the United States have become saltier and more alkaline over the past 50 years, thanks to road deicers, fertilizers and other salty compounds that humans indirectly release into waterways. The team named this effect “Freshwater Salinization Syndrome.”  New research from the same UMD-led group takes a closer look at the global, regional and local consequences of Freshwater Salinization Syndrome. The group found that salty, alkaline freshwater can release a variety of chemicals, including toxic metals and harmful nitrogen-containing compounds, from streambeds and soils in drainage basins. The results further suggest that many of these chemicals travel together throughout watersheds, forming “chemical cocktails” that can have more devastating effects on drinking water supplies and ecosystems when compared with individual contaminants alone. … ”  Read more from the Science Daily here: Saltier waterways are creating dangerous ‘chemical cocktails’

Tracking aquifer water with seismic noise:  “In drought-stressed areas like California where every drop in the aquifer counts, seismic noise may be the key to monitoring water. Harvard University PhD student and principal investigator Tim Clements spoke to EM about this recent work, and how it might be a game changer for water watchers across the country.  “The inspiration for this research was the historic drought in California from 2011 to 2017,” explains Clements. “This was the driest period in recorded history in the state. We started this research after California had implemented the first mandatory water restrictions in state history in 2015.” … ”  Read more from Environmental Monitor here:  Tracking aquifer water with seismic noise

Sparing versus sharing: The great debate over how to protect nature:  “It is one of the biggest questions in conservation: Should we be sharing our landscapes with nature by reviving small woodlands and adopting small-scale eco-friendly farming? Or should we instead be sparing large tracts of land for nature’s exclusive use – by creating more national parks and industrializing agriculture on existing farmland?  The argument between “sparing” and “sharing” as a conservation tool has been raging since researchers first coined the terms more than a decade ago. Arguably it began almost half a century before when Norman Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution of high-yielding crop varieties, declared that “by producing more food per unit of cultivated area, more land would be available for other uses, including recreation and wildlife.” … ”  Read more from Yale 360 here:  Sparing versus sharing: The great debate over how to protect nature

Flint, Michigan lead crisis should have buried the city in water bottles. So, why didn’t it?:  “One hundred thousand residents of Flint, Michigan could only use water from bottles or filters during a years-long lead contamination crisis, which started when the city switched to a new drinking water source in 2014.  As part of a class assignment that grew into a case study, Purdue University researchers found that during the first three weeks of the disaster alone, anywhere from 31 to 100 million bottles were generated as waste. This means that Flint should have been buried in plastic by the time the crisis ended in 2017. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Flint, Michigan lead crisis should have buried the city in water bottles. So, why didn’t it?

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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