SCIENCE NEWS: Hot and crowded: Salmon spawning on the Stanislaus; A struggling California marsh gets an overhaul to prepare for rising seas; Researchers have built an automatic habitat loss detector; and more …

Hot and crowded: where and when salmon spawn on the Stanislaus River

Salmon that lay their eggs in the Stanislaus River have evolved to take advantage of a narrow time window when spawning is most likely to be successful. Spawn too early, and river temperatures may be too warm for sensitive, incubating eggs; spawn too late and temperatures may be too warm for outmigrating juveniles. But what happens when thousands of years of evolution run into a prolonged and historic drought at the southern extent of the Chinook salmon spawning range? This question was explored in-depth by FISHBIO in an article published in the journal Fisheries Management and Ecology (Peterson et al. 2020), which describes where and when salmon spawned in the Stanislaus over a seven year period and is summarized in a new video. … ”  Read more from FishBio here:  Hot and crowded: where and when salmon spawn on the Stanislaus River

A struggling California marsh gets an overhaul to prepare for rising seas

The sun shines meekly through a veil of morning fog and wildfire smoke while several figures in orange vests, hard hats, and face masks move slowly through a marsh on the north shore of San Francisco Bay. Wielding brooms, they jab lightly at the vegetation, ruffling the tufts of native pickleweed. As biological monitors, their job is to flush out small animals—especially the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse—and usher them from the path of a rumbling excavator, which is about to dig a deep groove in the slick mud. … ”  Read more from Audubon Magazine here:  A struggling California marsh gets an overhaul to prepare for rising seas

40 acres of new rocky reef habitat built off the Southern California coast

This fall, we completed one of the final projects restoring Southern California habitat from chemical pollution impacts at the Montrose Superfund site. NOAA and partners built 40 acres of new rocky reef habitat in an area where old reefs were buried in underwater landslides and sediment is contaminated with DDT and other toxins.  The reefs will help fish and other marine life avoid the polluted sediment, promoting growth of additional healthy habitat like kelp forests. Rocky reefs are known to be nurseries for younger fish to grow, and are much more productive than soft-bottom areas. The new reefs are already supporting a diversity of fish species. Additionally, the reefs ascend high enough off the seafloor that they’ll avoid being buried by landslides in the future—a win-win for the local marine ecosystem. … ”  Read more from NOAA here:  40 acres of new rocky reef habitat built off the Southern California coast

Burning Question: How To Predict Runoff After Catastrophic Wildfire?

After a record-setting season of catastrophic wildfires in California, no single fire in 2020 burned more than the Creek Fire in the Upper San Joaquin River watershed east of Fresno. The Creek Fire, the largest single-source fire in California history, ravaged nearly 380,000 acres from September to November. Now, with 35% of the watershed burned, hydrologists want to better understand what impact the Creek Fire may have on spring runoff – essential to the San Joaquin Valley’s water supply and to the welfare of a burgeoning salmon population. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin River Restoration Program here:  Burning Question: How To Predict Runoff After Catastrophic Wildfire?

Identifying where to reforest after wildfire

In the aftermath of megafires that devastated forests of the western United States, attention turns to whether forests will regenerate on their own or not. Forest managers can now look to a newly enhanced, predictive mapping tool to learn where forests are likely to regenerate on their own and where replanting efforts may be beneficial.  The tool is described in a study published in the journal Ecological Applications by researchers from the University of California, Davis; U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service. … ”  Read more from UC Davis here:  Identifying where to reforest after wildfire

A soil moisture monitoring network to assess controls on runoff generation during atmospheric river events

CW3E hydrologist Edwin Sumargo, CW3E affiliate Hilary McMillan, CW3E mesoscale modeler Rachel Weihs, CW3E field researcher Carly Ellis, CW3E field research manager Anna Wilson, and CW3E Director F. Martin Ralph published a paper in the Hydrological Processes, titled “A soil moisture monitoring network to assess controls on runoff generation during atmospheric river events” (Sumargo et al. 2020). As part of CW3E’s 2019-2024 Strategic Plan to support Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO), CW3E researches the impacts of atmospheric rivers (ARs) on water management and public safety in order to improve the prediction capability. This study highlights the role of soil moisture in runoff generation from precipitation during AR events and the value-added for hydrologic model design and calibration. Ultimately, this work supports ongoing collaborations involving CW3E, California Department of Water Resources, NOAA, Sonoma Water, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve streamflow predictions and develop situational awareness tools for FIRO at Lake Mendocino. … ”  Read more from the Center for Western Weather & Water Extremes here:  A soil moisture monitoring network to assess controls on runoff generation during atmospheric river events

Using satellite imagery, researchers have built an automatic habitat loss detector

Habitat destruction is a key driver of biodiversity loss. While laws exist to protect certain swaths of land from degradation, enforcing them can be difficult. The stakes are high—once a mountaintop is mined or a forest razed, the damage can’t be undone.   In a recent paper in Conservation Biology, researchers propose a relatively new tool: satellite imagery. Familiar to laypeople through software like Google Earth, overhead snapshots of the planet can be run through algorithms in order to “identify and quantify land-cover changes and habitat loss,” the authors write, potentially enabling “systematic conservation monitoring.” … ”  Read more from Anthropocene here:  Using satellite imagery, researchers have built an automatic habitat loss detector

Targeting U.S. wetland restoration could make cleaning up water much cheaper

Wetlands do a great job of filtering and cleaning up polluted water. But in the United States, many of those natural filters have been destroyed: filled in, paved over, or drained to become farm fields. Now, a study suggests policymakers responsible for managing wetlands could do a better job by strategically locating restored or created wetlands near sources of pollution, such as farms and livestock operations. Such a targeted approach would remove much more nitrogen—which pollutes groundwater, lakes, and coastal waters—than current scattershot policies, the researchers say. … ” Read more from Science Magazine here: Targeting U.S. wetland restoration could make cleaning up water much cheaper

UO research team solves an ancient Colorado River mystery

Two new studies by Rebecca Dorsey’s University of Oregon research group have validated the idea that the ebb and flow of seawater tides, amid a wet climate more than 5 million years ago, covered basins that are now part of the arid lower reaches of the Colorado River valley.  The evidence emerged from separate projects northeast of the Chocolate Mountains in a region that now encompasses the small desert communities of Cibola, Arizona, and Palo Verde, California. The region is in the southern Bouse Formation near Blythe, California.  The studies, funded by the National Science Foundation, were published online ahead of print in the international journal Sedimentology. … ”  Read more from the University of Oregon here:  UO research team solves an ancient Colorado River mystery

Sinking fish may fast-track mercury pollution to the deep sea

Mercury pollution at Earth’s surface is leaving a mark on the deepest parts of the ocean. A new study suggests that sinking fish carcasses transport the element to seafloor ecosystems.  “Mercury is not limited to the upper thousand meters of the ocean, as we once thought,” said Joel Blum, a biogeochemist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Blum and his colleagues scoped out the mercury content of organisms collected from roughly 6,000–10,000 meters below the ocean surface. That mercury contained chemical clues pointing to fish carcasses from shallower waters as its source, researchers reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. The carrion provides a mercury “fast track” to the deep ocean, Blum said. … ”  Read more from AGU here:  Sinking fish may fast-track mercury pollution to the deep sea

Maven’s XKCD Comic Pick of the Week …

FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Sodium Oxalate Crystals, courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Labs

 


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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