Geopolymers; Photo by BASF

SCIENCE NEWS: Stream flow modeling tools inform environmental water policy; Phytophthora species linked to recent outbreaks in NorCal restoration sites; Recent drought may provide a glimpse of the future for birds in the Sierra Nevada; and more …

Geopolymers; Photo by BASF
In science news this week:

Stream flow modeling tools inform environmental water policy in California: Over the past century, California has built an extraordinarily complex water management system with hundreds of dams and a vast distribution network that spans the state. This system generates electricity, provides flood protection, delivers reliable water supplies to 40 million people and sup-ports one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. Yet development of the state’s water management system has come at a price. Damming waterways, diverting water from rivers and streams and altering natural flow patterns have transformed the state’s freshwater ecosystems, leading to habitat degradation, declines of freshwater species and loss of services that river ecosystems provide, including high-quality drinking water, fishing and recreational opportunities, and cultural and aesthetic values. .. ”  Read more from California Agriculture here:  Stream flow modeling tools inform environmental water policy in California

Soil- and waterborne Phytophthora species linked to recent outbreaks in Northern California restoration sites:  “Many studies around the globe have identified plant production facilities as major sources of plant pathogens that may be released in the wild, with significant consequences for the health and integrity of natural ecosystems. Recently, a large number of soilborne and waterborne species belonging to the plant pathogenic genus Phytophthora have been identified for the first time in California native plant production facilities, including those focused on the production of plant stock used in ecological restoration efforts. Additionally, the same Phytophthora species present in production facilities have often been identified in failing restoration projects, further endangering plant species already threatened or endangered. To our knowledge, the identification of Phytophthora species in restoration areas and in plant production facilities that produce plant stock for restoration projects is a novel discovery that finds many land managers unprepared, due to a lack of previous experience with these pathogens. This review summarizes some of the key knowledge about the genus Phytophthora in general and lists some of the many soilborne and waterborne species recently recovered from some California restoration sites and plant production facilities. … ”  Read more from California Agriculture here:  Soil- and waterborne Phytophthora species linked to recent outbreaks in Northern California restoration sites

Tough fish in a rough place: Red Hills Roach:  “Red Hills Roach are small (adults are 60-70 mm in total length) bronzy minnows that live in a challenging environment. They survive in a few small streams that start as seeps in a hot dry landscape, the serpentine outcrops of the Red Hills, at about 1200 ft in elevation (Tuolumne County).  The streams flow through a hot landscape in summer, only lightly shaded, and a pool with more than a foot of water is regarded as deep.  The water of the streams is likely laced with magnesium, iron, and other minerals leached from the serpentine deposits.  Because the land through which the streams flow is of low value, in the past it had been mined, heavily grazed, and run-over by off-road vehicles. The region is now managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as the Red Hills Recreation Management Area.  Of the 11 varieties of fish that are labeled as roach (Hesperoleucus), the Red Hills roach has the most restricted distribution, so is the most vulnerable to extinction (see California water blog for February 10, 2019; Baumsteiger and Moyle 2019). ... ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Tough fish in a rough place: Red Hills Roach

Recent drought may provide a glimpse of the future for birds in the Sierra Nevada:  “How wildlife respond to climate change is likely to be complex. To better understand the effects of climate change on the bird community in the Sierra Nevada region, new research published today from Point Blue Conservation Science examines the impacts to birds from a recent extreme drought (2013-2016). The drought resulted in the widespread death of pine trees due to attacks by bark beetles, potentially impacting wildlife habitat. While the results were varied, researchers found that many bird species responded positively to the climate conditions associated with the drought, potentially offsetting the negative habitat impacts of the dead trees.  Under the assumption that climate conditions and species’ responses to those conditions during the drought are similar to those that may occur in the future, researchers assessed the influence of temperature, water deficit, and tree mortality on bird abundance for 45 species. Researchers then used those models to project the effect of climate change on the bird community through the year 2050. ... ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Recent drought may provide a glimpse of the future for birds in the Sierra Nevada

South Bay icon: Florence LaRiviere and the first urban national wildlife refuge:  “For environmental advocate Florence LaRiviere, it all started at a worn-down picnic table.  It was 1951 in Palo Alto, California. The nurse and her husband, Philip, a Navy navigator and physicist, had just moved into an affordable post-war home. To escape the heat, the young couple would pack up their children and dinner, and ride a few miles over to the breezy edge of the San Francisco Bay.  “I will tell you there is nothing so lovely, no place so charming, as the marsh in the evening. The tide changes and moves the cordgrass. It bends back and forth…the only sound – it can be very quiet – is the birds jumping into the air and crying as they fly,” said Florence LaRiviere, who is now 95. … ”  Read more from the US FWS here:  South Bay icon: Florence LaRiviere and the first urban national wildlife refuge

West Coast’s biggest starfish vanishing amid disease, warming oceans, study finds: “Once a common delight of every beachcomber, sunflower starfish—the large, multi-armed starfish sometimes seen underwater at the near shore—are imperiled by disease and ocean warming along the West Coast. The devastation occurred over just a few years and even affected starfish in deeper water, according to research co-led by the University of California, Davis and Cornell University published in the journal Science Advances. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  West Coast’s biggest starfish vanishing amid disease, warming oceans, study finds

Finding fish using their DNA:  “Monitoring populations of fish is important for commercial and non-commercial species. Commercial species consumed by humans, such as halibut and cod (Figure 1), are well studied and their population size is used to set catch limits each year. Non-commercial species are not as well studied due to a lack of economic interest. Yet, monitoring of many non-commercial species can give us important information about how the marine world is functioning. Understanding how different fish species will migrate in response to climate change is an important focus for scientists, but not enough is known about where fish currently live to make proper predictions. Understanding where species will live in the future will help managers determine locations of management areas. ... ”  Read more from EnviroBites here:  Finding fish using their DNA

Ecosystem responses to dam removal complex, but predictable:  “In the United States, the removal of dams now outpaces the construction of new ones — with more than 1,400 dams decommissioned since the 1970s — and a new study suggests that the ecosystem effects of dam removal can be predicted.  Published in the journal BioScience, the study identifies a consistent set of physical and biological processes that control ecological responses to dam removal. These processes, combined with the unique environmental conditions found at each dam, ultimately determine how the ecology of the river will respond. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here: Ecosystem responses to dam removal complex, but predictable

New App Makes Endangered Species Habitat Easy to Find: “NOAA Fisheries has launched a new Protected Resources Application (app) that quickly and easily displays the locations of marine and anadromous species and their habitats protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The app draws on geographic information system (GIS) data, making it simple for the public, tribes, and government agencies, among others, to identify protected habitats. For example, users can easily create detailed maps comparing the habitat of different ESA-listed salmon and steelhead stocks and see where their habitats overlap. … ”  Read more from NOAA here:  New App Makes Endangered Species Habitat Easy to Find

Pharmaceutical residues in fresh water pose a growing environmental risk:  “Over the past 20 years, concentrations of pharmaceuticals have increased in freshwater sources all over the world, as research by environmental experts at Radboud University has revealed. Levels of the antibiotic ciprofloxacin have reached the point of potentially causing damaging ecological effects. The research is the first to examine the risks of two particular medicines in global freshwater sources, and is being published in Environmental Research Letters on February 22nd. “The study calls for more widespread data gathering to measure the problem around the world.”  “Getting an accurate picture of the environmental risks of pharmaceuticals around the world depends on the availability of data, which is limited,” says Rik Oldenkamp, lead author of the article. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Pharmaceutical residues in fresh water pose a growing environmental risk

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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