Is the Sacramento Splittail an Endangered Species?  “The Sacramento splittail is a lovely, silvery-white fish that lives primarily in Suisun Marsh, the north Delta and other parts of the San Francisco Estuary (SFE; Moyle et al. 2004). The name comes from its unusual tail, in which the upper lobe is larger than the lower lobe. It is a distinctive endemic species that for decades has fascinated those of us who work in Suisun Marsh. Splittail are consistently among the most abundant fishes in our samples, despite being uncommon or absent elsewhere. Historically, splittail were distributed from Tulare Lake in the southern Central Valley to roughly the present site of Redding in the north. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here: Is the Sacramento Splittail an Endangered Species?

Microscopic invasion: microplastics in fish and other challenges: Whether we realize it’s happening or not, we can expose ourselves to environmental pollution hundreds of times a day, whether by air, water, or land. These pollutants have numerous health effects, many of which are still unknown. Researchers are currently trying to determine potential health effects related to microplastics, or microscopic plastic fragments, which have become a ubiquitous form of pollution. We breathe and absorb these plastics through the food we eat and the air we breathe. Plastic microbeads found in exfoliants and cosmetics and microfibers found in synthetic clothing are common sources of plastic pollution. Scientists estimate that as many as 100,000 microbeads can be flushed down the drain during just one shower. Additionally, thousands of microfibers are released every time a synthetic garment is washed. Much of this plastic is too small to be caught by sewage treatment plants. As a result, there is a growing concern regarding the effects of plastic on aquatic organisms that may be consuming them. … ”  Read more from FishBio here:  Microscopic invasion: microplastics in fish and other challenges

Natural habitat around farms a win for strawberry growers, birds and consumers:  “Conserving natural habitat around strawberry fields can help protect growers’ yields, their bottom line and the environment with no detectable threat to food safety, indicates a study led by the University of California, Davis.  In the study, published in the journal Ecological Applications, researchers conducted grower surveys and experiments at 20 strawberry farms stretching between Santa Cruz, Watsonville, and Salinas on California’s Central Coast — a region that produces 43 percent of the nation’s strawberries.  “Our results indicate that strawberry farmers are better off with natural habitat around their farms than without it,” said lead author Elissa Olimpi, a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Daniel Karp, assistant professor with the UC Davis Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology.  … ”  Read more from UC Davis here: Natural habitat around farms a win for strawberry growers, birds and consumers

Where have all the flowers gone? Climate change is driving the loss of forbs and diversity in Californian grasslands:  “How is climate change impacting plant communities?  This vexing question is one that keeps plant ecologists like myself awake at night scouring the current literature and planning the next experiment. We know that arid states like California are already experiencing increasingly long droughts and extreme temperature increases. Climate projections predict even more drying in these systems in the future. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a great consensus among studies as to exactly how the changing climate will impact plant communities, particularly when it comes to species diversity. Many researchers have chosen to focus on changes in the ranges and populations of individual species rather than whole communities. Those that have studied whole communities have found everything from increased overall diversity to significantly decreased diversity. It seems that the impacts of climate change on diversity tend to be very context dependent in these experimental studies. ... ”  Read more from EnviroBites here: Where have all the flowers gone? Climate change is driving the loss of forbs and diversity in Californian grasslands

Inyo County: From “extinct” to “prolific”: How one private landowner’s vision saved an extinct desert fish and other desert animals:  ““’Listen to the land’ is my mantra,” said Susan Sorrells, a 4th generation resident and owner of Shoshone, California.  Sorrells grew up in Shoshone, a small desert town located on the edge of Death Valley in Inyo County, and always had a close connection with the natural world.  “My family came here as pioneers in 1910,” she said. “Shoshone was one of the best places to grow up because it was surrounded by nature. I truly fell in love with the land and its people.”  Integrating nature with community became a part of Sorrells’ and her husband Robby Haines’ vision for stewarding the land. As a gateway to Death Valley National Park, ecotourism became their economic engine. These conservation-minded efforts boosted financially sustainability and helped recover endangered species, particularly a type of fish once believed to be lost. … ”  Read more from the US FWS here: Inyo County: From “extinct” to “prolific”: How one private landowner’s vision saved an extinct desert fish and other desert animals

Study examines environmental footprint of California dairy cows over 50 years:  “Producing a liter of milk in California emits less greenhouse gas and uses less land and water than it did in 1964, according to a recent study from researchers at the University of California, Davis.  “We compared 1964 through 2014 and found a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gases to produce the same quantity and quality of milk,” said senior author Ermias Kebreab, professor and Sesnon Endowed Chair in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis. “The magnitude of change is surprising.” … ”  Read more from UC Davis here: Study examines environmental footprint of California dairy cows over 50 years

Better management of wetland, floodplain and river habitats:  “Wetlands, floodplains and aquatic habitats are some of Utah’s most important ecosystems. They are home to many bird, plant and fish species, and they provide unique outdoor recreation opportunities.  But in recent years these habitats have faced mounting pressure from encroaching land use and increased demand for water. Now researchers at Utah State University are developing new tools that help preserve and increase the area and quality of wetland, floodplain and aquatic habitats. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here: Better management of wetland, floodplain and river habitats

Thinning, prescribed burns protected forests during the massive Carlton Complex (WA) wildfire: “The 2014 Carlton Complex wildfire in north central Washington was the largest contiguous fire in state history. In just a single day, flames spread over 160,000 acres of forest and rangeland and ultimately burned more than 250,000 acres in the midst of a particularly hot, dry summer.  The wildfire, driven by strong winds and explosive growth, was unprecedented in how it burned the landscape, destroying more than 300 homes in Washington’s Methow Valley. But “megafires” like the Carlton Complex are becoming more common in western U.S. forests as the climate warms and forests are crowded with trees after years of fire exclusion. … ”  Read more from ESA here:  Thinning, prescribed burns protected forests during the massive Carlton Complex (WA) wildfire

West Coast waters shift toward productive conditions, but lingering heat may “tilt” marine ecosystem:  “Burgeoning populations of anchovy and a healthy crop of California sea lion pups reflected improved productivity off parts of the West Coast in 2019. However, lingering offshore heat worked against recovery of salmon stocks and reduced fishing success, a new analysis reports.  The California Current Ecosystem Status Report explains that ocean conditions off the West Coast remain unusually variable. This has been the case since the arrival of a major marine heatwave in 2014 known as “The Blob.” NOAA Fisheries’ two West Coast laboratories, the Northwest Fisheries Science Center and Southwest Fisheries Science Center, issue the report each year to the Pacific Fishery Management Council. … ”  Read more from NOAA here: West Coast waters shift toward productive conditions, but lingering heat may “tilt” marine ecosystem

Federally protected lands reduce habitat loss and protect endangered species, study finds:  “Using more than 30 years of earth satellite images, scientists at Tufts University and the non-profit conservation organization Defenders of Wildlife have discovered that habitat loss for imperiled species in the U.S. over this period was more than twice as great on non-protected private lands than on federally protected lands. As wildlife face a host of survival threats ranging from habitat destruction to global climate change, the study, published today in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, provides evidence that federal land protection and listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act are effective tools for stemming losses in species habitat. … ” Read more from ESA here: Federally protected lands reduce habitat loss and protect endangered species, study finds

Winter was the 6th hottest on record for U.S.:  “In fact, the period from December through February was much warmer than normal across the contiguous United States, while precipitation remained above-average, according to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.  February continued the balmy trend, with unusually warm and wet conditions across the Lower 48 states last month.   Not so for Alaska: The state shivered under its coldest February in more than 20 years.  Here are more highlights from NOAA’s latest monthly U.S. climate report … ”  Read more from the NOAA here: Winter was the 6th hottest on record for U.S.

Maven’s XKCD Comic Pick of the Week …

 


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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