SCIENCE NEWS: Genetic differences and salmon migration timing; Invasive weeds and juvenile salmon predation; Designing a house fit for a fish; and more …

Small genetic difference determines Chinook salmon migration timing, new study shows

The annual migration of Chinook salmon up West Coast rivers from the ocean has enriched ecosystems, inspired cultures, and shaped landscapes. Yet the timing of their migration is controlled by one small section of their genome, according to research published this week in Science.  This is the first time scientists have linked a single gene region to such an influential difference in a vertebrate species. For salmon, it determines whether they return upriver from the ocean in spring or fall. This has crucial implications for other species that rely on them for food. First author Neil Thompson of the University of California Santa Cruz and NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center said that this small genetic difference can have a major effect on a complex pattern of migration and reproduction. … ”  Read more from NOAA here:  Small genetic difference determines Chinook salmon migration timing, new study shows

In the weeds: Invasive aquatic plants can increase juvenile salmon predation risk

For juvenile Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) migrating through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, hungry non-native predatory species pose a threat to their survival. However, disentangling the effect of predation from other threats to salmon survival is exceedingly difficult. Predation is often studied either in an unnatural laboratory setting where scientists have total control over the environment, or in a natural system where scientists have no control over the environment. To bridge this gap, a group of researchers recently developed a compromise between a controlled laboratory and chaotic natural setting. By constructing an experimental enclosure along a riverbank, they could control numbers of predators and prey, evaluate the effects of different habitat features, and still provide natural environmental conditions (Zeug et al. 2020). Their findings published in the journal Estuaries and Coasts highlight that non-native aquatic plants may increase predation risk of juvenile salmon. … ”  Read more from FishBio here: In the weeds: Invasive aquatic plants can increase juvenile salmon predation risk

Designing a house fit for a fish

” … As climate change and human depredations destroy ecosystems across the globe, scientists are stepping in to offer beleaguered animals temporary housing. For an octopus in the Mediterranean Sea, that artificial refuge comes as a sunken plastic pipe, while in the Hyères archipelago off France, nesting seabirds can cozy up in semiburied plastic jugs. But some scientists are going further and designing housing from scratch. … ”  Read more from Hakai Magazine here: Designing a house fit for a fish

Fish that eat microplastics are found to take more risks and die younger

A team of researchers from Australia, Canada, the U.K. and New Zealand has found that some fish that eat microplastics are more likely to take risks, and because of that, wind up dying younger. In their paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the group describes their study that involved capturing young fish, feeding them microplastics and then returning them to the sea to learn more about what eating plastics does to them.  … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here: Fish that eat microplastics are found to take more risks and die younger

New method for detecting changes in ecosystems

Earth and all the living organisms on it are constantly changing. But is there any way we can detect if these changes are occurring at an abnormal rate? What are the consequences of these changes for the organisms affected? An international team of researchers including scientists from Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have developed a method of detecting such developments and tracking how new ecosystems are formed. They have published their findings in the specialist journal Science. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  New method for detecting changes in ecosystems

Drones that patrol forests could monitor environmental and ecological changes

Sensors for forest monitoring are already used to track changes in temperature, humidity and light, as well as the movements of animals and insects through their habitat. They also help to detect and monitor forest fires and can provide valuable data on how climate change and other human activities are impacting the natural world.  However, placing these sensors can prove difficult in large, tall forests, and climbing trees to place them poses its own risks.  Now, researchers at Imperial College London’s Aerial Robotics Laboratory have developed drones that can shoot sensor-containing darts onto trees several metres away in cluttered environments like forests. The drones can also place sensors through contact or by perching on tree branches. … ”  Read more from Science Daily here:  Drones that patrol forests could monitor environmental and ecological changes

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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