SCIENCE NEWS: Otherworldly worms with three sexes discovered in Mono Lake: Valley Fever the Focus of Public Event; Collapse of desert bird populations likely due to heat stress from climate change; and more …

Mono Lake Sunset; Photo by Jeffrey Sullivan

In science news this week: Otherworldly worms with three sexes discovered in Mono Lake: Valley Fever the Focus of Public Event; Collapse of desert bird populations likely due to heat stress from climate change; How Monarch Butterflies Evolved to Eat a Poisonous Plant; Hurricane Dorian Was Worthy of a Category 6 Rating; Restoring Emiquon’s “Wetland of Dreams”; and more…

Otherworldly worms with three sexes discovered in Mono Lake “The extreme environment of Mono Lake was thought to only house two species of animals — until now.” Read more from Science Daily here: Otherworldly worms with three sexes discovered in Mono Lake

Valley Fever the Focus of Public Event “UC Merced is offering the opportunity for Valley residents to learn what clinicians and researchers know about Valley fever, an airborne fungal infection that can have serious, even fatal, consequences for people across California and the Southwest.” Read more from UC Merced School of Natural Science here: Valley Fever the Focus of Public Event

California Tests New Strategies to Prevent Deadly Wildfires “A troubled utility in California repeatedly shut off power to homes last week to prevent wildfire ignitions, while Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has waived a major environmental law to allow expedited fire prevention efforts.” Read more from Scientific American here: California Tests New Strategies to Prevent Deadly Wildfires

What are These Small, White, Circular Needle-Like Things? “The small “needles” that start to decorate doors, plants, and just about any surface imaginable this time of year are from an often overlooked family of insects known as the green lacewings (Chrysopidae). These insects, as many gardeners are probably aware, are voracious predators of aphids, mites, whiteflies, and other small soft bodied insects.“ Read more from Bay Nature here: What are These Small, White, Circular Needle-Like Things?

Naturalist E.O. Wilson on the fight to save half the planet for wildlife “To save Earth’s stunning biodiversity, we need to set aside at least half the planet’s lands and oceans for conservation. That’s the argument made by naturalist and author E.O. Wilson in his 2016 book Half-Earth and also the inspiration behind the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation’s Half-Earth Day, an annual event that explores how conservationists of all stripes can make progress toward this lofty, but attainable, goal.” Read more from Berkeley News here: Naturalist E.O. Wilson on the fight to save half the planet for wildlife

Collapse of desert bird populations likely due to heat stress from climate change “As temperatures rise, desert birds need more water to cool off at the same time as deserts are becoming drier, setting some species up for a severe crash, if not extinction, according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley.” Read more from Phys.org here” Collapse of desert bird populations likely due to heat stress from climate change

How Monarch Butterflies Evolved to Eat a Poisonous Plant “For most animals, the milkweed plant is far from appetizing: It contains nasty toxins called cardenolides that can make the creatures vomit and, should they ingest enough, cause their hearts to beat out of control.” Read more from Scientific American here: How Monarch Butterflies Evolved to Eat a Poisonous Plant

Hurricane Dorian Was Worthy of a Category 6 Rating “Category 5 Atlantic hurricanes are rare. Only 7% of the 243 hurricanes observed since accurate satellite measurements began in 1983 have reached that catastrophic intensity. And it is truly exceptional to see a category 5 hurricane as strong as Hurricane Dorian, which powered ashore on Great Abaco Island in The Bahamas on September 1, 2019, with sustained winds of 185 mph and gusts up to 220 mph.” Read more from Scientific American here: Hurricane Dorian Was Worthy of a Category 6 Rating

Scientists Are Getting Better at Predicting Hurricane Intensity “While scientists are much better now at forecasting a hurricane’s track, little advancement has been made in predicting a storm’s intensity over the past 30 years. Now, scientists say they are finally making progress in understanding how and why hurricanes intensify, information they say is critical to improving real-time forecasts.” Read more from Yale Environment 360 here: Scientists Are Getting Better at Predicting Hurricane Intensity

Managing stormwater and stream restoration projects together “Both stormwater control and stream restoration are proven ways to reduce erosion along water channels. Often, though, each method is managed by a different urban land-management department, measuring different success values.” Read more from Science Daily here: Managing stormwater and stream restoration projects together

Restoring Emiquon’s “Wetland of Dreams” “Before this morning, I had never seen a bittern – despite spending a fair amount of time in wetlands looking for them. These wading birds have a unique call but are noted for being skittish and hard to find. In the past ten minutes, I’ve seen a dozen: one American bittern and 11 least bitterns. I’m in an airboat gliding across the glassy surface of The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve, a restored floodplain wetland located along the Illinois River.” Read more from Cool Green Science here: Restoring Emiquon’s “Wetland of Dreams”

The benefits of updating agricultural drainage infrastructure “Massive networks of drains, pipes and tiles that enable food production on much of the world’s most productive cropland are due for expansion and replacement to meet the demands of agricultural intensification and climate change. How that infrastructure is updated will have enormous consequences on food production and the environment, according to a new study.” Read more from Phys.org here:  The benefits of updating agricultural drainage infrastructure

Sinking groundwater levels threaten the vitality of riverine ecosystems “Groundwater is the world’s largest source of freshwater and it is of vital importance for food production. Increasing extraction of groundwater in recent decades has resulted in sinking water tables worldwide. A study by a hydrologist shows that almost 20 percent of the catchments areas where groundwater is pumped suffer from a flow that is too low to sustain freshwater ecosystems. This number is expected to increase to 50 percent by 2050.” Read more from Science Daily here: Sinking groundwater levels threaten the vitality of riverine ecosystems

Lessons Australia’s water reform offers in science, politics and sustainable watersheds “Against the backdrop of a changing climate, governments in many of the world’s semi-arid regions face the difficult task of balancing the water needs of growing populations with those of the environment. This balancing act is especially challenging in Australia’s largest river basin, the Murray-Darling, which spans one million km2 and supplies 40 percent of the country’s agricultural production. The successes and failures of Australia’s recent reform of the Murray-Darling Basin hold valuable lessons for policy makers in California and elsewhere who are likely to grapple with the environmental repercussions of extreme drought in the future.” Read more from Stanford Water in the West here: Lessons Australia’s water reform offers in science, politics and sustainable watersheds

A large grey-blue humpback whale spotted in River Thames near London “A humpback whale measuring at least 5 metres (16 feet) has been spotted in the River Thames just east of London almost exactly a year since a beluga whale was first sighted in the British capital.” Read more from Reuters here: A large grey-blue humpback whale spotted in River Thames near London

The Platypus Is Weirder Than You Ever Imagined “British naturalist George Shaw was so baffled by the first platypus specimen sent back to England that he assumed it was a hoax and cut apart the taxidermied carcass, trying to find the stitching.” Read more from Cool Green Science here:  The Platypus Is Weirder Than You Ever Imagined

Here’s where Earth stores its carbon “Human-driven carbon pollution is wreaking havoc on the global climate, from bleaching tropical corals to melting polar ice caps. But the amount of carbon in Earth’s oceans and atmosphere barely scratches the surface of the planet’s vast carbon reservoirs.” Read more from Science News here: Here’s where Earth stores its carbon 

New 3-D imaging technology maps Scottish coral reefs “Newly developed 3-D imaging technology has allowed scientists to map an area of cold-water coral reefs off the coast of Scotland to see whether it has recovered since being declared a Marine Protected Area 16 years ago.” Read more from Phys.org here: New 3-D imaging technology maps Scottish coral reefs

Think Drones are Bad for Wildlife? These Videos May Change Your Mind “Gustavo Lozada wants to change your mind about using drones around wildlife. Lozada, technology manager for The Nature Conservancy in Colorado, knows that many people think that increasing drone use will only harass and terrify wild animals. He also knows it doesn’t have to be that way, and that drones can be a really important tool in wildlife research and protection.” Read more from Cool Green Science here: Think Drones are Bad for Wildlife? These Videos May Change Your Mind

Grouping ‘smart cities’ into types may help aspiring city planners find a path “A comparative analysis of ‘smart cities’ worldwide reveals four distinct types, according to researchers. The categories may help city planners to identify and emulate models that are close to their own socio-economic circumstances and policy aspirations.” Read more from Science Daily here:  Grouping ‘smart cities’ into types may help aspiring city planners find a path

Lisa’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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