Unloved and unstudied: Learning more about Lamprey:  “Lamprey may tread the line between ugly and downright frightening, but these underappreciated fish play similar ecological roles as the salmon that always seem to capture the freshwater fish spotlight. Just like salmon, the lamprey’s anadromous life cycle means that adults returning from the ocean to the streams where they were born bring important marine nutrients to fuel the freshwater food web. And unlike salmon, their young larva (called ammocoetes) are also important detritivores, sucking up debris in the sediment like so many millions of riverine Roombas. In spite of their stellar ecological credentials, these slimy sub-fish are poorly understood compared to other species. … ”  Read more from FishBio here: Unloved and unstudied: Learning more about Lamprey

Confronting challenges: Summer-run steelhead: “top athletes” and “extraordinary” and “inspiring animal”:  “In football, you have diverse athletes from your typically tall and thin wide receivers to your stout and muscular offensive lineman. Similarly, in steelhead, you have a wide range of athletic diversity.  “Steelhead are one of the most iconic fish species on the Pacific coast of the United States,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Damon Goodman. “One of the things they are most well-known for is their athleticism. They are the top athletes of all salmonids. They can leap up and over waterfalls and swim through extreme rapids to access their habitats.” … ”  Read more from the US FWS here: Confronting challenges: Summer-run steelhead: “top athletes” and “extraordinary” and “inspiring animal”

Sustainability Spotlight: The value of inland fisheries:  “Ocean fishing often steals the spotlight in terms of its perceived importance in world fisheries conversation. This means many people don’t realize the true value of inland, or freshwater, fisheries, especially for rural populations in underdeveloped countries where it is difficult to access ocean resources. Lack of knowledge about the state and function of inland fisheries can contribute to declining health of both freshwater ecosystems, and the people who depend on them, an issue exacerbated by underreported catch and inadequate fisheries information systems. In a recent review paper published in the journal Fish and Fisheries, two researchers evaluate the importance of inland fisheries through analyzing a collection of FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department catch data from recent years, focusing on topics like production trends, social and ecological importance of the fishery, and most importantly, food security and contribution to livelihoods. … ”  Read more from FishBio here: Sustainability Spotlight: The value of inland fisheries

We’ve been systematically underestimating sea otters’ historical habitat:  “Before the fur trade wiped out the majority of California’s sea otters, thousands inhabited the west coast’s largest estuary—San Francisco Bay. Though the otters there went extinct by the mid-1800s, other populations managed to survive by taking refuge along the state’s rugged coastline. In isolated pockets, those survivors found safe havens, says Tim Tinker, a wildlife biologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Hundreds of years later, conservationists helping the sea otters recover focused their efforts on where they found those remnant populations, overlooking the estuaries they once called home.  “That unconscious bias has affected everything. It’s affected where we do research and where we think otters will be,” says Tinker. Now, those recovery efforts are being re-evaluated. ... ”  Read more from Hakai Magazine here:  We’ve been systematically underestimating sea otters’ historical habitat

Giant kelp gives Southern California marine ecosystems a strong foundation:  “Certain species serve as the foundations of their ecosystems. Scientists are increasingly interested in ecological stability — the factors that allow an ecosystem to withstand pressures and perturbations — especially in view of human impacts such as climate change and pollution.  Now, researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara have leveraged long-term ecological data to probe this question in Southern California's kelp forests. They found a correlation between the stability of giant kelp and the stability of understory seaweeds and seafloor invertebrates, such as sponges, as well as higher biodiversity overall. The results appear in the journal Ecology. … ”  Read more from the NSF here: Giant kelp gives Southern California marine ecosystems a strong foundation

Estuarine and coastal environments play a crucial role in microplastic concentrations:  “Every year, about 8 million metric tons of plastic are put into the world's oceans. Of particular concern are microplastics, materials found in the marine environment that occur in sizes below five millimeters and are the most abundant form of marine debris observed at the ocean surface.  Estuarine and coastal environments play a crucial role as a buffer between land, freshwater environments and the open ocean where plastic debris accumulates. Despite performing this critical function, estuarine and coastal environments have not been extensively studied for microplastic prevalence and impact. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here: Estuarine and coastal environments play a crucial role in microplastic concentrations

Wildfires increase winter snowpack — but that isn't necessarily a good thing:  “Deep in the Tushar mountains, some three hours south of Brigham Young University's campus in Utah, Ph.D. student Jordan Maxwell and two other students found themselves in deep snow, both literally and figuratively.  It was December 2014 and the students had just started field work under the tutelage of BYU forest ecologist Sam St. Clair for research on the impact of wildfires on snowpack levels. Unfortunately, the snowmobiles they'd been using could go no further and there were still dozens of measurements they needed to take.” o, we put on our skis and got to work,” Maxwell said. … ” Read more from Science Daily here:  Wildfires increase winter snowpack — but that isn’t necessarily a good thing

Synthetic chemicals in soils are ‘ticking time bomb':  “A growing health crisis fueled by synthetic chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in groundwater has garnered much attention in the last few years.  The reported levels could be “just the tip of the iceberg,” as most of the chemicals are still migrating down slowly through the soil, according to Bo Guo, University of Arizona assistant professor of hydrology and atmospheric sciences. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  Synthetic chemicals in soils are ‘ticking time bomb’

Birds, fish and shifting sediment; how Lake Erie buoys measure it all:Since its population bottomed out, the federally-endangered Piping Plover in the Great Lakes has made a comeback for the ages.   A population that once measured approximately 17 pairs and rebounded, hitting 76 pairs in 2017. The same year that count was made, the plovers had also returned to Gull Point, a nesting location that hadn’t been used in more than 60 years.  In an effort to understand some of the conditions that have allowed this species to return to its habitat, researchers have directed their attention toward a curious instrument for help.  A buoy that floats off the coast of Presque Isle State Park, near where Gull Point is located. … ”  Read more from Environmental Monitor here: Birds, fish and shifting sediment; how Lake Erie buoys measure it all

A remedy for harmful algal blooms? Scientist thinks he's found one:  “Covering the entire 40 acres of Lake Newport was a thick, green mat of algae. Looking across the lake in Youngstown, Ohio, last September, Peter Moeller, a government researcher, wondered if his experimental treatment could heal the lake by removing the toxin-producing cyanobacteria.  In the sweltering heat, beads of sweat dripped down the faces of Moeller and his team as they positioned four units of nanobubble ozone generators around the lake shore. … ”  Read more from the Daily Climate here:  A remedy for harmful algal blooms? Scientist thinks he’s found one

US sea-level report cards: 2019 data adds to trend in acceleration:  “The annual update of their sea level “report cards” by researchers at William & Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science adds evidence of an accelerating rate of sea-level rise at nearly all tidal stations along the U.S. coastline. The latest report cards were published on January 30th.  The team's web-based report cards project sea level to the year 2050 based on an ongoing analysis of tide-gauge records for 32 localities along the U.S. coast from Maine to Alaska. The analysis now includes 51 years of water-level observations, from January 1969 through December 2019. The interactive charts are available online at http://www.vims.edu/sealevelreportcards. ... ”  Read more from PhysOrg here: US sea-level report cards: 2019 data adds to trend in acceleration

Why clouds are the key to new troubling projections on warming:  “It is the most worrying development in the science of climate change for a long time. An apparently settled conclusion about how sensitive the climate is to adding more greenhouse gases has been thrown into doubt by a series of new studies from the world’s top climate modeling groups.  The studies have changed how the models treat clouds, following new field research. They suggest that the ability of clouds to keep us cool could be drastically reduced as the world warms — pushing global heating into overdrive. … ”  Read more from Yale E360 here:  Why clouds are the key to new troubling projections on warming

Newly released satellite data poised to significantly improve weather forecasts:  “As the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) releases the first data from the newly launched COSMIC-2 satellite system, meteorologists are finding evidence that the detailed observations of the atmosphere will significantly improve short-term weather forecasts.  “The data are looking very good,” said Bill Schreiner, director of the UCAR COSMIC program. “The mission is absolutely a success so far.” … ”  Read more from NCAR here:  Newly released satellite data poised to significantly improve weather forecasts

An Ecologist Organizes the World: Jane Lubchenco helped change the field of ecology by making the science useful to society:  “Back in the mid-1970s, before Jane Lubchenco was a highly cited ecologist, she was climbing around the rocks of New England’s seashore, figuring out why different seaweeds lived in different intertidal zones. One seaweed, called Chondrus (or Irish moss, although it’s not a moss), always lives in the shore’s lower zones. Another one, called Fucus (or rockweed), always lives in zones higher up. Classical ecology would have told her those species were best suited to those locations. But Lubchenco decided to experiment, to remove Chondrus and see if Fucus stayed in its own zone. … ” Continue reading at Hakai Magazine here: An Ecologist Organizes the World: Jane Lubchenco helped change the field of ecology by making the science useful to society

Water, water everywhere — and it's weirder than you think:  “Researchers at The University of Tokyo have used computational methods and analysis of recent experimental data to demonstrate that water molecules take two distinct structures in the liquid state. The team investigated the scattering of X-ray photons through water samples and showed a bimodal distribution hidden under the first diffraction peak that resulted from tetrahedral and non-tetrahedral arrangements of water molecules. This work may have important implications throughout science, but especially with regard to living systems, like proteins and cell structures, which are strongly affected by their surrounding water molecules. … ”  Read more from EurekAlert here: Water, water everywhere — and it’s weirder than you think

Maven's XKCD Comic Pick of the Week …

Featured image credit: Vanda Glezakou: Assembly mechanism of MIL-101 is controlled by solvent and spectator ions.  Photo courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Labs via flickr.

 


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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