SCIENCE NEWS: Idled farmland presents habitat restoration opportunities in San Joaquin Desert; New tools for endangered species recovery; Will sea level rise harm tidal marshlands?; and more …

Hot Commodities from Hot Water; Photo by Pacific Northwest National Labs
In science news this week:

Idled farmland presents habitat restoration opportunities in San Joaquin Desert: “Most of the native habitat in California’s San Joaquin Desert has been converted to row crops and orchards, leaving 35 threatened or endangered species confined to isolated patches of habitat. A significant portion of that farmland, however, is likely to be retired in the coming decades due to groundwater overdraft, soil salinity, and climate change.  A new study led by researchers at UC Santa Cruz looked at the conservation potential of marginal farmland in the San Joaquin Desert and found that restoration of fallowed farmland could play a crucial role in habitat protection and restoration strategies for the blunt-nosed leopard lizard and other endangered species. … ” Read more from Science Daily here:  Idled farmland presents habitat restoration opportunities in San Joaquin Desert

Decisions, decisions: New tools for endangered species recovery:  “When scientists and managers are tasked with protecting endangered species and natural resources, they first have to decide what should be done to improve conditions for those species and ensure that habitat is managed sustainably. There are some tough decisions to be made when it comes to protecting wildlife and their habitat. For instance, is it better to spend money on saving a species that is on the brink of extinction or one that is not yet declared endangered? What would be the impact of a ten percent budget increase for recovery actions? Decisions like these, which involve a multitude of factors related to the species or environment of concern can be contentious. … ”  Continue reading at the FishBio blog here:  Decisions, decisions: New tools for endangered species recovery

Will sea level rise harm tidal marshlands?  “A habitat type commonly found in the upper reaches of estuaries (water bodies where fresh river waters mix with salty ocean water) is tidal freshwater wetlands. These habitats, which experience tides but have very low salinity, are home to a diverse array of plant species, especially in higher elevation marsh zones where many salt intolerant plant species can be found. However, climate change pressures, such as sea level rise, make the fate and vulnerability of these unique habitats highly uncertain. … ”  Read more from EnviroBites here:  Will sea level rise harm tidal marshlands?

New conservation practice could reduce nitrogen pollution in agricultural drainage water:  “Every summer, a “dead zone” forms in the Gulf of Mexico. Plumes of oxygen-robbing algae, fed by excess nitrogen coming in from the Mississippi River, kill off marine life and threaten the livelihoods of those who fish the Gulf. States bordering the Mississippi River are putting strategies in place to limit nitrogen from wastewater treatment plants, surface runoff, and agricultural fields. In a new study, University of Illinois scientists have estimated that a new conservation practice known as saturated buffers could reduce nitrogen from agricultural drainage by 5 to 10 percent. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  New conservation practice could reduce nitrogen pollution in agricultural drainage water

Is there space for nature in man-made jungle?:  “We live in the Anthropocene era, a time named for the significant impacts of us humans on Earth’s geology and ecosystems. Our population has been rapidly growing, while also advancing technologies and expanding the areas we occupy. In doing so, we’ve shaped existing habitats as well as created new unique environments, such as urban and industrial areas. Many of these developments have resulted in the reduction of biodiversity (biological diversity of living creatures), which is essential for the ecosystem health and provision of services and goods that people and wildlife reply on (for example, clean air from trees, pollination of crops by bees, meat from wild animals). But what if, as we’ve been “progressing”, nature has been adapting and “joining” us in the man-made environments? ... ”  Read more from EnviroBites here:  Is there space for nature in man-made jungle?

How the Government Shutdown is Bringing Out the Best in (most) People in Bay Area National Parks and Public Lands:  “The partial federal government shutdown, now the longest in U.S. history, has made life truly miserable for some people. But when it comes to parks and public lands, most of which in the Bay Area have remained open but unstaffed, the shutdown also provides a window into an eternal truth about life in the absence of authority: some people are really mindless jerks and many more people are not.  Earlier this month off-road drivers took advantage of the lack of enforcement in the Golden Gate National Parks to carve donuts in the fragile grasslands of the Marin Headlands, reports Golden Gate Raptor Observatory director Allen Fish. Visitors to Joshua Tree cut down irreplaceable trees and threatened a quadriplegic Marine Corps veteran and beloved park regular for suggesting they behave. ... ”  Read more from Bay Nature here:  How the Government Shutdown is Bringing Out the Best in (most) People in Bay Area National Parks and Public Lands

Oceans are warming faster than previously thought:  “Heat trapped by greenhouse gases is raising ocean temperatures faster than previously thought, concludes an analysis of four recent ocean heating observations. The results provide further evidence that earlier claims of a slowdown or “hiatus” in global warming over the past 15 years were unfounded.  “If you want to see where global warming is happening, look in our oceans,” said Zeke Hausfather, a graduate student in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-author of the paper. “Ocean heating is a very important indicator of climate change, and we have robust evidence that it is warming more rapidly than we thought.” ... ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Oceans are warming faster than previously thought

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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