Unified Geologic Map of the Moon Credit: NASA/GSFC/USGS

SCIENCE NEWS: Rapid genetic tools to id fish in the field, Did salmon always live in San José?, Can California’s kelp forests be recovered?; Machine learning helped demystify earthquake swarm; and more …

No Smelt, SHERLOCK – Rapid genetic tools to id fish in the field“The white lab coats, sterile gloves, and meticulously controlled laboratories typically associated with genetic research are a far cry from the muddy, dusty, and utterly uncontrolled world of the field biologist. Traditionally, genetic studies of wild plants and animals have relied on samples collected in their natural habitats being analyzed in a laboratory. However, advancements in molecular technology are placing all the power of a modern genetics lab into the (often slimy) hands of field biologists. A recent collaboration by scientists from the California Department of Water Resources, UC Davis, and MIT demonstrates that rapid genetic identification of species in the field has gone from the purview of science fiction to ground-truthed reality (Baerwald et al. 2020). These modern genetic techniques that bring the power of the laboratory into the field have the potential to greatly speed up data processing, and consequently the response of management for imperiled species. … ”  Read more from FishBio here: No Smelt, SHERLOCK – Rapid genetic tools to id fish in the field

Saving California’s crayfish:  “Marin County’s landscape is a source of inspiration for many people, including Josh Hull, a Marin County native who now works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  “I always loved nature because I was always in it,” he said. “I spent my weekends at Marin County beaches or in Muir Woods. It was an era where these places were well-known but not overcrowded.”  Today, Hull applies his passion to recovering endangered and threatened species in California, including the Shasta crayfish (Pacifastacus fortis). ... ”  Read more from the US Fish and Wildlife Service here: Saving California’s crayfish

Did salmon always live in San José? After an absence of many decades, Chinook salmon swim up the Guadalupe River in San José most winters. The fish look for places to lay eggs and often find them. If there’s enough water left in the dry season, their offspring swim back down the river in the spring to head out to sea.  Surprisingly, given the generally heated politics regarding fish in California, little else is known about these salmon. Almost no one will dispute that for some matter of decades until the 1980s, salmon did not swim in the Guadalupe. So where do these modern fish come from? ... ”  Read more from Bay Nature here: Did salmon always live in San José?

Bringing Back Kelp: Can California’s offshore forests be recovered?  “One early summer morning in 2018, Jon Holcomb steered his fishing boat out of Noyo Harbor, just south of Fort Bragg, and headed toward Caspar Point, a jagged promontory along the rocky Mendocino coast. There, he anchored in about 20 feet of water. Yards away, waves roared.  A longtime commercial sea urchin fisherman, Holcomb stayed up top, minding the boat, while his friend and fellow diver, Harry Barnard, submerged himself in the slate-blue water.  Under the waves, rock outcroppings covered in spiked purple orbs looked like coronavirus-infected human cells. Other than Barnard and those quarter-size echinoderms, the ocean bottom appeared lifeless. Holcomb and Barnard were there to vacuum up the urchins with a large plastic tube Holcomb had built, called an air lift. In a video taken of the work, Barnard used a long hook to flick urchins off of the rocks and into the mouth of the air lift, where they were sucked into a 350-pound bag. … ”  Read more from Bay Nature here: Bringing Back Kelp: Can California’s offshore forests be recovered?

Off the scales: fish armor both tough and flexible:  “Humans have drawn technological inspiration from fish scales going back to ancient times: Romans, Egyptians, and other civilizations would dress their warriors in scale armor, providing both protection and mobility. Now, using advanced X-ray imaging techniques, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) scientists have characterized carp scales down to the nanoscale, enabling them to understand how the material is resistant to penetration while retaining flexibility.  The researchers used powerful X-ray beams at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS) to watch how the fibers in carp scales react as stress is applied. As they wrote in their paper, published recently in the journal Matter, what they found “may well provide further inspiration for the design of advanced synthetic structural materials with unprecedented toughness and penetration resistance.” … ”  Read more from Berkeley Labs here: Off the scales: fish armor both tough and flexible

Effects from low-level concentrations of harmful chemicals preserved in three generations of fish:  “Fish exposed to very low levels of chemicals commonly found in waterways can pass the impacts on to future generations that were never directly exposed to the chemicals, according to Oregon State University researchers.  “What that gets at is something your grandparents may have come into contact with in their environment can still be affecting the overall structure of your DNA in your life today,” said Kaley Major, a postdoctoral scholar at Oregon State and lead author of the paper published today in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science. … ”  Read more from EurekAlert here: Effects from low-level concentrations of harmful chemicals preserved in three generations of fish

Wildfire shapes diversity of hermit warbler songs in California:  “New research shows that fire history seems to be shaping the diversity of bird songs throughout the state. The new paper, published in leading bird journal The Auk: Ornithological Advances, addresses the diversity of song dialects sung by hermit warblers – birds which get their name because they are rarely seen and spend much of their time in forest canopy. They are, however, very vocal and easily heard.  Interestingly, the paper’s lead author, CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Dr. Brett Furnas, never set out to study the hermit warbler, which is a migratory songbird that breeds in California, Oregon and Washington. ... ”  Read more from the Department of Fish and Wildlife here: Wildfire shapes diversity of hermit warbler songs in California

Using local seeds to save the sage:  “The idea of using local, native seeds in restoration is taking off, just like the wildfires they are designed to follow, as ecologists and botanists in Nevada embark on research to test the use of these seeds in helping burned areas recover and become resilient.  “Nevada is fascinating. It is at the center of the Great Basin and the center of native seed discussions right now,” said Beth Leger, Professor of Biology, at the University of Nevada, Reno.  Leger has been on faculty at the University since 2006 and says the best thing about her job is seeing her graduate students make a difference in the plant world. “My former students are spread out across the West. Since they know each other, they’re able to form easy partnerships, which allows us to pull off the impossible,” said Leger. ... ”  Read more from the US FWS here: Using local seeds to save the sage

Machine learning helped demystify a California earthquake swarm:  “Circulating groundwater triggered a four-year-long swarm of tiny earthquakes that rumbled beneath the Southern California town of Cahuilla, researchers report in the June 19 Science. By training computers to recognize such faint rumbles, the scientists were able not only to identify the probable culprit behind the quakes, but also to track how such mysterious swarms can spread through complex fault networks in space and time.  Seismic signals are constantly being recorded in tectonically active Southern California, says seismologist Zachary Ross of Caltech. Using that rich database, Ross and colleagues have been training computers to distinguish the telltale ground movements of minute earthquakes from other things that gently shake the ground, such as construction reverberations or distant rumbles of the ocean (SN: 4/18/19). The millions of tiny quakes revealed by this machine learning technique, he says, can be used to create high-resolution, 3-D images of what lies beneath the ground’s surface in a particular region. ... ”  Read more from Science News here: Machine learning helped demystify a California earthquake swarm

A Risky Climate Investment: Researchers find that using forests to offset carbon emissions will require a better understanding of the risks:  “Given the tremendous ability of forests to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, some governments want to plant forests to offset greenhouse gas emissions — a sort of climate investment. But if a forest goes bust, researchers say, much of that stored carbon could go up in smoke.  UC Santa Barbara terrestrial scientist Anna Trugman and her colleagues realized that we can’t simply deploy forests in the fight against climate change. “We found that there is a real need to better understand how much risk forests face due to climate-change driven mortality factors like fire, insect outbreaks and drought,” Trugman said, “before we can ensure how appropriate forest carbon storage projects are to meet ambitious aims for mitigating climate change.” … ”  Read more from UC Santa Barbara here:  A Risky Climate Investment: Researchers find that using forests to offset carbon emissions will require a better understanding of the risks

Human activity on rivers outpaces, compounds effects of climate change:  “The livelihoods of millions of people living along the world’s biggest river systems are under threat by a range of stressors caused by the daily economic, societal and political activity of humans — in addition to the long-term effects of climate change, researchers report.  A new paper by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign geology and geography professor Jim Best and University of Southampton professor Stephen Darby takes a big-picture approach to review the health and resiliency of the world’s large river systems, their deltas and their vulnerability to extreme events.  The article is published in the journal One Earth. ... ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Human activity on rivers outpaces, compounds effects of climate change

Featured image: Orthographic projections of the “Unified Geologic Map of the Moon” showing the geology of the Moon’s near side (left) and far side (right) with shaded topography from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA). This geologic map is a synthesis of six Apollo-era regional geologic maps, updated based on data from recent satellite missions. It will serve as a reference for lunar science and future human missions to the Moon. Credit: NASA/GSFC/USGS.  Click here for more information.

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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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