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Sierra Nevada snowpack at historic low
October 3, 2015 06:52 AM - Mike Gaworecki , MONGABAY.COM

On April 1, California Governor Jerry Brown stood in a Sierra Nevada meadow atop parched, brown grass — at an elevation of 6,800 feet, where there would normally be five feet of snow at that time of year — and announced the state’s first-ever mandatory water restrictions.

The Golden State is still in the grip of a severe drought that began in 2012, and new research suggests it is one of the worst in centuries.

The day Gov. Brown announced the statewide water restrictions, snowpack in the Sierra Nevadas was reported to be at just 5 percent of its historical average, as calculated from records dating back to the 1930s.

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Plants migrate to higher altitudes because of climate change
September 16, 2015 02:46 PM - Aarhus University

Although most of the world’s species diversity is found in tropical areas, there are very few studies that have examined whether tropical mountain species are affected by climate change to the same extent as temperate species. A new study has now determined that major changes have taken place during the last two centuries.

By comparing the migration of plant communities on the Chimborazo volcano in Ecuador with historical data from 1802, Aarhus University researchers found an average upslope shift of more than 500 metres. The entire vegetation boundary has moved upwards from 4,600 metres to almost 5,200 metres. The main explanation for this dramatic shift is climate change over the last 210 years.

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New Sensor Tag Technology Could Link Animal Behavior and Conservation Science


For wild sockeye salmon, the trip upriver from the ocean to their spawning grounds is fraught with peril and hardship. But quantifying exactly how obstacles along the way, fluctuations in water temperature and other factors impact fish survival has long eluded researchers. New advances in biological sensor tags are now allowing scientists to precisely measure animals’ energetics, their interactions with humans, and their responses to rapidly changing environments.

In 2014, for example, Nicholas Burnett and colleagues used accelerometer tags to measure how salmon needed to swim in order to traverse a dam in the Seton-Anderson watershed of British Columbia, Canada and how likely they were to survive the remainder of their journey. They found that when salmon resort to strenuous anaerobic swimming, they were significantly more likely to die days or even hours later.

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