To slow the velocity of French Creek and prevent spawning gravels, streambank plants and soils, and juvenile fish from being washed downstream during spring runoff, trees from the landowners property were placed at strategic intervals across the water. Credit: Erich Yokel/SRWC

SCIENCE NEWS: French Creek restoration: If you restore it, they will return; A beginner’s guide to PIT tags; Why indigenous knowledge matters to the future of fisheries; and more …

French Creek restoration: If you restore it, they will return

Imagine a serene setting in a lush river valley over 300 hundred years ago. Beavers maintained swaths of wetlands, their dams creating thickets of willows and cottonwoods attracting billions of beneficial native insects. In spring, the calls of birds and frogs filled the air. Western pond turtles basked above pools on fallen logs and schools of young salmon darted below. Salamanders lurked under rocks and ring-necked snakes patrolled for bite-sized morsels. Now picture this scene completely transformed, still and quiet, devoid of most plants and wildlife.  This is what happened in the Scott Valley of northern California when the fur trade arrived in the 1820s followed by the gold rush three decades later. … However, thanks to recent efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Yreka Habitat Restoration branch and a willing private landowner, the landscape along a stretch of French Creek, a major tributary to the Scott River, has begun to heal. … ”  Read more from the US FWS here:  French Creek restoration: If you restore it, they will return

A beginner’s guide to PIT tags

The life cycle of a fish is often largely invisible, muddied by murky waters. This fundamental challenge to aquatic research has led to the development of many technologies to help track fish movement. One of the most commonly used fish tracking technologies combines the benefits of not needing a power source with the convenience of remote detection. Passive Integrated Transponder tags – commonly referred to as PIT tags – contain the same technology as the “microchips” used in pet dogs and cats, and are widely used in fisheries studies to track fish movement, survival, and growth over time. Our infographic above breaks down the PIT tag basics. … “  Read more from FishBio here: A beginner’s guide to PIT tags

Keeping tabs on fish health in the Calaveras River

The Calaveras River is home to several iconic and sensitive native California fish species, including both forms of Oncorhynchus mykiss (steelhead and rainbow trout) and opportunistic runs of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). As part of a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) recently developed to help benefit these species, the Stockton East Water District is required to establish a fisheries monitoring program to determine whether the conservation strategies established by the HCP are working to improve fish populations. Since 2001, Stockton East has been supporting routine monitoring on the Calaveras River that has yielded important data on the life history of special-status fish species, and has been used to better inform the science and decisions made in the HCP. The HCP ensures that these monitoring activities to survey juvenile and adult salmonids, as well as their habitat and food sources, will continue under the terms of a 50-year water operations permit. … ”  Read more from FishBio here:  Keeping tabs on fish health in the Calaveras River

Rising water temperatures could be a death sentence for Pacific salmon

In the Pacific Northwest, several species of salmon are in danger of extinction. The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office has released a report on the state of salmon populations in the state’s watersheds—and the findings predict a grim future.   The report was commissioned by the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office, established by the state legislature in 1998 in response to the Salmon Recovery Planning Act. Its findings showed that 10 to 14 species of in the northwest are “threatened or endangered,” and five species are “in crisis.” … ”  Read more from Phys Org here:  Rising water temperatures could be a death sentence for Pacific salmon

Why indigenous knowledge matters to the future of fisheries

Andrea Reid grew up surrounded by water on Canada’s Prince Edward Island with fish “very much just in my blood,” she says. When she went to college, she realized that fish could be a career, too.  The shape of that career began to form when she worked as a biologist on fish and fisheries in Uganda, Indonesia, the Philippines and the Solomon Islands. “I really began to see just how much fishers know,” she says. “And I started bringing that thinking home.”  Last month Reid, a citizen of the Nisga’a Nation, helped launch the Centre for Indigenous Fisheries at the University of British Columbia, where she’s an assistant professor in the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries.  … ”  Read more from The Revelator here: Why indigenous knowledge matters to the future of fisheries

These acrobatic beach hoppers shred all night long

As the sun sinks behind the waves, these performers awaken and get ready for their all-night show.  They take cues from the tides, the moon, and their appetite, emerging from sandy underground burrows.  You might know them as sand fleas, but they don’t bite and they aren’t fleas. They’re called beach hoppers.  These crustaceans are as small as an ant or as large as a cricket.   Their eyes are made up of hundreds of cells called ommatidia, but they don’t see much detail — just blurry shapes, light and dark.  They’re drawn toward shadowy blobs on the horizon. They hope it’s kelp, their favorite food.  When they find it, they eat and eat. … ”  Read more from KQED here: These acrobatic beach hoppers shred all night long

Banking on bird shit

Almost everyone, at some point in their life, has had a bird poop on their head. It’s gross. But it can also be taken as good luck, particularly if it’s a seabird splat—that shit is worth serious money.  Farmers in South America and a few other places have long used the nutrient-rich substance, called guano, as fertilizer. And it turns out that seabirds excrete up to almost US $474-million worth of the stuff per year worldwide, according to a new study. The authors see this finding as a perfect public relations opportunity for seabird services. … ”  Read more from Hakai Magazine here: Banking on bird shit

California’s rainy season now starts a month later than it used to

The start of California’s rainy season has been getting progressively later in recent decades, and now begins a month after it did just 60 years ago, shifting from November to December, according to a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Scientists say the delay in the start of the rain has prolonged the state’s wildfire season and exacerbated water shortages. Last year was California’s worst wildfire season on record, with nearly 10,000 fires burning more than 4.2 million acres. … ”  Read more from Yale e360 here: California’s rainy season now starts a month later than it used to

As plastic pollution in rivers gets worse, species are increasingly living on litter

Scientists have long warned that the world’s major rivers and estuaries are hotspots for plastic waste, as trash and microparticles wash down tributaries and congregate before entering oceans. Now, new research has found that as this waste accumulates, aquatic river species like insects and snails are increasingly choosing to settle on plastic rather than natural features like rocks or fallen branches.  The findings, based on research in British rivers, are the latest evidence of how plastic waste is reshaping the world’s riverine ecosystems, both physically and behaviorally. ... ”  Read more from Yale e360 here: As plastic pollution in rivers gets worse, species are increasingly living on litter

The environmental threat you’ve never heard of

Coastal waters around the world are steadily growing darker. This darkening—a change in the color and clarity of the water—has the potential to cause huge problems for the ocean and its inhabitants.  “It’s affecting the quality of the sea we know,” says Oliver Zielinski, who runs the Coastal Ocean Darkening project at the University of Oldenburg in Germany. These “changes in the physics will lead to biological changes,” he adds. … ”  Read more from Hakai Magazine here:  The environmental threat you’ve never heard of

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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