A Fresh View of Floodplain Ecology and Management

by Jeff Opperman and Peter Moyle, co-authors of Floodplains: Processes and Management for Ecosystem Services

Last week, we saw tragic images of floods across the world, from Houston to Niger to south Asia, with more than 1,300 deaths from floods in India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Floods are among the most costly natural disasters worldwide and the loss of life and property, from Houston to Mumbai, gave a very human face to the impersonal statistics: in recent years, global damages have ranged between $30 and 60 billion and more than 100 million people have been displaced by flooding.

These events are also warnings about a likely future: in a warming world, many regions will experience more frequent and intense flooding.

It is hard to imagine a flood-management system that could have effectively contained the historic amount of rain that fell on southeast Texas—several feet in just a few days. However, even if all floods can’t be contained, governments must still invest in measures to improve safety for people and reduce damages. The key is to move beyond a primary focus on the structural measures—dams and levees—that strive to contain floods, and toward a “diversified portfolio” approach. Nonstructural measures—such as zoning, building codes and insurance—are key to keeping people out of harm’s way. Another critical strategy is to integrate green infrastructure—natural features such as wetlands and floodplains—into flood-management systems.

In river basins around the world, from the Mississippi to the Sacramento to the Rhine, managers have moved away from a strict reliance on engineered levees, which confine rivers and attempt to contain floods. Instead, they have moved towards reconnecting rivers to parts of their historic floodplains. On these reconnected floodplains, floodwaters can spread out and reduce risks to communities and farmland in other areas.

We have documented this trend, and reasons why green infrastructure can be so effective, in our book, Floodplains: Processes and Management for Ecosystem Services.

The book is based on our many years of studying floodplains in California, a leader in using floodplains for flood management. But we also explore other regions, especially Europe, Australia, and Asia, for new insights.

Our focus is reconciliation ecology, the science of integrating functioning ecosystems into landscapes dominated by people. This framework is key to understanding the full potential of green infrastructure: by reducing flood risk, wetlands and floodplains function as infrastructure. But they are also “green”—they are ecosystems that are influenced by complex and intertwined biophysical processes. The first part of our book reviews these processes—encompassing hydrology, geomorphology, biogeochemistry, and ecology—and how they respond to management interventions.

A hallmark of green infrastructure is that these ecosystem processes can provide multiple benefits beyond flood-risk reduction. For floodplains, these benefits include habitat for fish and wildlife, groundwater recharge, carbon sequestration, and open space and recreation. Thus, realizing the full potential of green infrastructure will come from an integrated approach, one in which engineers, scientists and planners collaborate on management to provide multiple benefits. The second part of the book includes a number of case studies of these new management approaches.

To be clear, we are not suggesting that floodplains and wetlands are the answer to reducing current and future flood risk. Rather, we think that a flood-management system that relies on green infrastructure in addition to engineered infrastructure and sound nonstructural policies, will increase safety for people and provide a broad range of other benefits.

The book’s closing paragraph articulates this optimism that integrated management can improve safety for people while promoting a range or natural services:

“Our time spent on rivers and floodplains has certainly shown us that much has changed and been lost over time. But we have seen more than just glimmers of hope in reconciled floodplains that are diverse and productive. We take heart from the huge flocks of migratory white geese and black ibis that congregate annually on California floodplains and from knowing that, beneath the floodwaters, juvenile salmon are swimming, feeding, and growing among cottonwoods and rice stalks, before heading out to sea. We can envision greatly expanded floodplains that are centerpieces of many regions, protecting people but also featuring wildlands, wildlife, and floodplain-friendly agriculture. Connectivity among floodplains, people and wild creatures is within reach, as is a future in which people work with natural processes rather than continually fighting them.”


Jeffrey J. Opperman is the global lead freshwater scientist for WWF and a research associate at the University of California, Davis.

Peter B. Moyle is Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology and Associate Director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis.


On the Road to ESA: A Q&A with Case Studies in the Environment Section Editor Cynthia Wei

Cynthia Wei is a Section Editor for the Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation section of UC Press’s new peer-reviewed journal, Case Studies in the Environment, as well as Associate Director of Education at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), based in Annapolis, Maryland.

We caught up with Cynthia as she made her way to the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America (ESA), held this year in Portland, Oregon.

Cynthia Wei, Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation Section Editor

Cynthia, not only are you a Section Editor for an environmental journal which takes a case study approach, but you also developed and lead SESYNC’s short course, Teaching Socio-Environmental Synthesis with Case Studies. What is your background and how did that lead to an interest in case studies?

Cynthia: My background is in animal behavior, and when I used to tell people about my research on honeybees and birds, I found it easy to engage with non-scientists about what I did. But inevitably, the conversation would circle around to the question: “So how does your work help humans?” With some degree of exasperation, I’d often shrug and say: “Why does everything have to be about humans?!” I would have a different response now as I’ve come to realize that the human dimension is inescapable; we are hard-pressed to think of an environmental issue, ecosystem, or species that is not influenced by humans in some substantive way. These days, my work focuses more on helping students to learn about the relationships between humans and nature, particularly through the use of environmental case studies in the classroom. For me, case studies are a natural fit for teaching in the environmental arena. Understanding and addressing environmental problems involves many complex, abstract theories and concepts, and case studies help students to learn these by providing detailed examples that tangibly illustrate these difficult ideas. Furthermore, the problems presented in cases are often very compelling to students.

Why are case studies important for ecology?

Cynthia: As an experimental biologist, as many ecologists are, the concept of publishing a case study was somewhat foreign to me, and the idea of publishing a single example of a phenomenon ran counter to my trained instincts (i.e. that’s an anecdote!) However, like natural history monographs, I think there is great value in publishing research-based, detailed descriptions of a single subject, event, or issue. Because environmental problems are often deeply complex and require a systems perspective, case studies illuminate the roles and relationships between various factors in a socio-environmental system or problem in a detailed, nuanced way. Thus, case studies that can illustrate the roles of ecological factors and their relationship to other factors in a system are important for helping us understand and address a particular environmental problem involving that system.

Would you encourage ecologists to submit their own case studies to Case Studies in the Environment?

Cynthia: Absolutely! In the section that I am responsible for (along with Martha Groom, University of Washington, and Tuyeni Mwampamba, UNAM) we have already published some interesting case studies, including material on Bosque Protector Cerro Blanco, a dry tropical forest reserve in Ecuador; on an Australian woodland rehabilitation project; and an analysis of a massive data set on human-bear conflicts in New Jersey; with additional case studies coming soon on an eco-hotel in Costa Rica and on environmental justice, indigenous peoples, and development in British Columbia. I would encourage any colleagues at ESA to talk with me about case studies (you can likely find me at the SESYNC booth in the exhibit hall), or to get in touch via the journal at cse@ucpress.edu.

 

Case Studies in the Environment is a journal of peer-reviewed case study articles, case study pedagogy articles, and a repository for editor-reviewed case study slides. The journal aims to inform faculty, students, educators, professionals, and policymakers on case studies and best practices in the environmental sciences and studies.

Through December 31, 2017, all Case Studies in the Environment content is available free. To learn more about the journal, including guidelines for prospective authors, please visit cse.ucpress.edu.

 


Our Most Precious Resource: A National Water Quality Month Reading List

August is National Water Quality Month, a time to reflect on what we are doing to both prevent water pollution and preserve water resources around the country. Check out the list below to learn more about water history, climate change, and the future of water in the western US.

The Atlas of Water: Mapping the World’s Most Critical Resource by Maggie Black

Using vivid graphics, maps, and charts, The Atlas of Water explores the complex human interaction with water around the world. This vibrant atlas addresses all the pressing issues concerning water, from water shortages and excessive demand, to dams, pollution, and privatization, all considered in terms of the growing threat of an increasingly unpredictable climate. It also outlines critical tools for managing water, providing safe access to water, and preserving the future of the world’s water supply.

 

Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children by Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner

In this incisive examination of lead poisoning during the past half century, Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner focus on one of the most contentious and bitter battles in the history of public health. Lead Wars details how the nature of the epidemic has changed and highlights the dilemmas public health agencies face today in terms of prevention strategies and chronic illness linked to low levels of toxic exposure. Including content about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, Lead Wars chronicles the obstacles faced by public health workers in the conservative, pro-business, anti-regulatory climate that took off in the Reagan years and that stymied efforts to eliminate lead from the environments and the bodies of American children.

 

Water and Los Angeles: A Tale of Three Rivers, 1900-1941 by William Deverell and Tom Sitton

Los Angeles rose to significance in the first half of the twentieth century by way of its complex relationship to three rivers: the Los Angeles, the Owens, and the Colorado. The remarkable urban and suburban trajectory of southern California since then cannot be fully understood without reference to the ways in which each of these three river systems came to be connected to the future of the metropolitan region.

A free ebook version of this title is available through Luminos, University of California Press’s Open Access publishing program for monographs.

 

Blood and Water: The Indus River Basin in Modern History by David Gilmartin

The Indus basin was once an arid pastoral watershed, but by the second half of the twentieth century, it had become one of the world’s most heavily irrigated and populated river basins. Launched under British colonial rule in the nineteenth century, this irrigation project spurred political, social, and environmental transformations that continued after the 1947 creation of the new states of India and Pakistan. In this first large-scale environmental history of the region, David Gilmartin focuses on the changes that occurred in the basin as a result of the implementation of the world’s largest modern integrated irrigation system.

 

Dead Pool: Lake Powell, Global Warming, and the Future of Water in the West by James Lawrence Powell

Where will the water come from to sustain the great desert cities of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix? In a provocative exploration of the past, present, and future of water in the West, James Lawrence Powell begins at Lake Powell, the vast reservoir that has become an emblem of this story. Writing for a wide audience, Powell shows us exactly why an urgent threat during the first half of the twenty-first century will come not from the rising of the seas but from the falling of the reservoirs.

 


UC Press Wins AAP PROSE Awards + Design Recognition from the AAUP

UC Press is proud to announce and congratulate recipients of this week’s Association of American Publishers‘ 2017 PROSE Awards, as well as the honorees of the Association of American University Press‘ 2017 Book, Jacket, and Journal Show.

About the PROSE Awards:

“The PROSE Awards annually recognize the very best in professional and scholarly publishing by bringing attention to distinguished books, journals, and electronic content in 53 categories.

Judged by peer publishers, librarians, and medical professionals since 1976, the PROSE Awards are extraordinary for their breadth and depth.”

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2017 PROSE AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PHYSICAL SCIENCES & MATHEMATICS

Ecosystems of California

Edited by Harold Mooney and Erika Zaveleta

 

 

 

 

mf6t14uh2017 PROSE AWARD JOURNAL/AWARD FOR INNOVATION – HONORABLE MENTION

Collabra: Psychology

Editors Simine Vazire, Rolf Zwaan and Don Moore

 

 

About the AAUP 2017 Book, Jacket, & Journal Show:

“Judging for the 2017 Book, Jacket, and Journal Show took place January 26-27 at the AAUP Central Office in New York City.  This year, 241 books, 2 Journals and 320 jacket and cover designs were submitted for a total of 563 entries.  The jurors carefully selected 50 books and 50 jackets and covers as the very best examples from this pool of excellent design.

The 2017 Book, Jacket, and Journal Show will premiere at the AAUP Annual Meeting in Austin, June 11-13, 2017. Afterward, the show will be exhibited at member presses around the country from September 2017 through May 2018. Forms to request the show for exhibit at your campus or institution will be available in the summer.”

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Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro

Designer: Lia Tjandra

Production Coordinator: Angela Chen

Acquiring Editor: Niels Hooper

Project Editor: Dore Brown

 

principiaJACKETS/COVERS

The Principia by Isaac Newton, translated by Bernard Cohen and Anne Whitman

Designer: Lia Tjandra

Production Coordinator: Angela Chen

Art Director: Lia Tjandra

 

 


The Future of Point Reyes

by Laura Alice Watt, author of The Paradox of Preservation: Wilderness and Working Landscapes at Point Reyes National Seashore

Today is the 54th anniversary of the establishment of the Point Reyes National Seashore, a much-beloved destination for people around the Bay Area and far beyond. Over the years I have been researching the peninsula’s landscape history, many people have asked, why are there still ranches in the park? Classic national parks like Yosemite or Yellowstone do not contain active agriculture, so indeed the presence of dairy cows and beef cattle adjacent to Point Reyes’ beaches must seem puzzling to some.

9780520277083Yet these historic agricultural families have remained in place for a reason, as my forthcoming book The Paradox of Preservation explores in depth. For over a century before it became a national seashore, Point Reyes was famous for its agriculture. Starting in the 1850s, renowned dairy and beef ranches were established on privately-owned property across the peninsula. In the late 1950s, the area was first proposed as a Seashore, aimed at providing recreation opportunities close to the metropolitan Bay Area—but even in the earliest discussions, a key concern was the possible effects of establishing a park on the local agricultural economy. As early as 1958, in a letter to Senator Clair Engle (one of the initial sponsors of the legislation), then-president of Marin Conservation League Caroline Livermore wrote: “As true conservationists we want to preserve dairying in this area and will do what we can to promote the health of this industry which is so valuable to the economic and material well being of our people and which adds to the pastoral scene adjacent to the proposed recreation project.” Throughout two years of Congressional hearings, no one testified at any time in favor of shutting down existing ranching, dairying, or oystering operations. Instead, the 1962 legislation reflected a strong commitment to retaining and sustaining existing agricultural uses, as they served the public values that the new national seashore was created to protect.

The continuing presence of cattle ranches on Point Reyes’ rolling grasslands offers a vision of how working landscapes—places characterized by “an intricate combination of cultivation and natural habitat,” shaped by the work and lives of many individuals over generations, maintaining a distinct character yet responding to the changing needs of its residents—should be recognized as part of both natural and cultural heritage worth protecting. The U.S. national park system contains areas that primarily aim to preserve natural scenery as well as those that primarily preserve history and cultural heritage; Point Reyes offers the suggestive possibility of protecting all types of heritage resources together, as a landscape whole and including the resident users’ input in management, rather than separately. I hope you will join me in celebrating the Seashore’s anniversary on the 13th, in hopes of many more years of public enjoyment of this unique and inspiring model of land protection and stewardship.


Laura Alice Watt is Professor of Environmental History and Policy at Sonoma State University.


Natural History and National Wildlife Day

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 5.15.51 PMIn celebration of #NationalWildlifeDay, enjoy free access to select articles from Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences, today through September 18.

Seeing Jaws: The Role of Shark Science in Ocean Conservation
Jennifer A. Martin (Vol. 46, No. 1, February 2016)
Think Shark Week put sharks on the map? Think again. Few scientists played a greater role in constructing how Americans envisioned sharks than marine biologist Perry W. Gilbert.

Paul Errington, Aldo Leopold, and Wildlife Ecology: Residential Science
Robert E. Kohler (Vol. 41, No. 2, Spring 2011)
Place shapes field science: not just the place where research is carried on, but the places where investigators have been in their mobile careers.

Endangered Science: The Regulation of Research by the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection and Endangered Species Acts
Etienne Benson (Vol. 42, No. 1, February 2012)
The Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act have been cornerstones of federal wildlife conservation policy in the United States since their enactment in the early 1970s. Although there was relatively little controversy over the need for or nature of these permit procedures during the debates leading up to the enactment of the laws, they became the source of concern on the part of many zoologists, biologists, and ecologists as soon as federal agencies began to implement them.

The Business of Natural History: Charles Aiken, Colorado Ornithology, and the Role of the Professional Collector
Steve Ruskin (Vol. 45, No. 3, June 2015)
Charles Aiken was a Colorado ornithologist and specimen dealer whose career spanned almost sixty years, roughly 1870–1930. He was an entrepreneurial naturalist who operated a long-running commercial natural history dealership in Colorado Springs, which enabled him to pursue his passion for birds and make important contributions to American ornithology.


UC Press to publish OA journal Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene in 2017

We are extremely excited to follow up on yesterday’s press release on this blog and confirm that as of January 2017 UC Press will be the publisher of the open access journal Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, which was launched in 2013 and incubated by BioOne.

ElementaAs you can tell from its title, Elementa is committed to publishing research that ultimately leads to scientific solutions to the challenges presented by this era of human impact, the Anthropocene. The journal is organized into 6 inaugural knowledge domains, each with its own Editor in Chief. Each EIC takes great care to encourage the submission of cross-domain work, and present it in the most appropriate domains, to ensure it reaches the right readers beyond any single discipline.

Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene is a perfect fit for UC Press—it will be in good company with our existing books list in the Natural Sciences; it will also become a core part of our open access ecosystem alongside the journal Collabra and the open access monograph program Luminos.

We are thrilled to be taking on the journal in 2017. In the meantime, if you do research in this field please consider it for your next article, and please take a look at some of the science published so far,

Jungfraujoch
Jungfraujoch, at 3,580 m in the Swiss Alps, is the highest elevation WMO GAW station in Europe

including this highly accessed Special Feature Reactive Gases in the Global Atmosphere, and the article “Expert opinion on extinction risk and climate change adaptation for biodiversity,” which alone has been downloaded over 200,000 times since July 2015!

For more information about Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, please see our press release.

 

 

 

 


Myriad Atlases: Now Available as E-Books

UC Press is pleased to announce that the following titles in the Myriad Atlas Series The Atlas of Climate Change, The Atlas of Religion, The Atlas of Food, The State of China Atlas, The Atlas of Global Inequalities, and The Atlas of California are now available for the first time, in addition to their print format versions, as e-book editions.

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Sample interior spreads (please click to expand):


CLIMATE-CHANGE-Low-carbon

CALIFORNIA-Health-care

FOOD-unequal-distrib.-food2

About Myriad Atlases:

Myriad’s award-winning atlases, some of which are published in the United States by University of California Press, are unique visual surveys of economic, political and social trends. By ingeniously transforming statistical data into valuable, user-friendly resources, they make a range of global issues – from climate change to world religions – accessible to general readers, students and professionals alike.


A Sea of Glass and the Blaschkas’ Fragile Legacy

What caught Drew Harvell’s eye first was a glass octopus. Inspired by the incredible glass marine sculptures of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, she soon set off to search for their living counterparts. In her new book A Sea of Glass, she tells the story of this journey of a lifetime while exploring unusual biology of these ancient animals and showing us that our ocean ecosystems—like the Blaschkas’ works of art—are as fragile as glass.

In honor of Earth Day, check out a slideshow of incredible Blaschka creations below, and learn more about Drew’s book here.

Additionally, click here to save 30% on new and bestselling science titles.

  • Common Octopus (Photo: Gary Hodges)
  • Sea Pansy (Photo: Gary Hodges)
  • From Left to Right: Siphonophores: Apolemia uvaria (Photo: Kent Loeffler) and Rosacea cymbiformis (Photo:Gray Hodges)
  • From Left to Right: mauve stinger (Photo: Drew Harvell), mauve stinger glass (Photo: Corning Museum of Glass), stinger watercolor (Photo: Corning Museum of Glass)
  • tentacle tubeworm (Photo: C. Smith)
  • From Left to Right: Doto Glass (Photo: C. Smith), Doto live (Photo: Reyn Yoshioka)
  • seadragon glass (Photo: Guido Mocafico), sea dragon watercolor (Photo: Corning Museum)
  • histioteuthis before (Photo: E. Brill), histioteuthis after (Photo: K. Loeffler)
  • common seastar in glass (Photo: Guido Mocafico)

Join Us at the 2016 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA!

 

Nonstop Metropolis by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro

 

 

 

 

 

University of California Press is exhibiting at the 2016 AAG Annual Meeting! The meeting convenes March 29 – April 2, 2016 in San Francisco, CA.

Please visit us at booth #314 in the exhibit hall at the Hilton San Francisco in Union Square for the following offers:

  • 40% conference discount on all orders
  • Request exam copies to consider for course adoption
  • Enter for a chance to win $100 worth of books by subscribing to UC Press eNews

Please see our flyer at our booth for our latest releases. Acquisitions and marketing staff will be available for your publishing questions.

Follow AAG’s Facebook, @theAAG, and hashtag #aag2016 for current meeting news. Catch up on our recent blog posts on the Natural Sciences here.

Be sure to catch our authors at the following Author Meets Critics sessions:

   

Rebecca Solnit with Joshua Jelly-Shapiro
“Mapping the Infinite City” — A Talk on the “infinite trilogy” of Atlases
Wednesday, March 30th, 5:20PM – 7:00PM
Hilton Hotel, Imperial B, Ballroom Level

   

Garrett Broad
Land, Justice and Agrifood Movements I: Trajectories and Tensions
Tuesday, March 29th, 2:40 PM – 2:20 PM
Hilton Hotel, Union Square 4, 4th Floor

  

Erica Kohl-Arenas with Ananya Roy
Author Meets Critics: Erica Kohl-Arenas’ The Self-Help Myth
Tuesday, March 29th, 4:40PM – 6:20PM
Hilton Hotel, Plaza A, Lobby Level

  

Seth Holmes
Annual CAPE “James M. Blaut” Plenary Lecture
Wednesday, March 30th, 3:20 PM – 5:00 PM
Imperial A, Ballroom Level
Hilton Hotel

   

Julie Guthman
Papers in Honor of Michael Watts IV
Thursday, March 31st, 3:20 PM – 5:00 PM
JW Marriott Hotel, Metropolitan A, 2nd Floor

Chemical Geographies: Science, Politics, and Materiality
Friday, April 1st, 8:00AM – 9:40AM
Continental 6, Ballroom Level — Hilton Hotel

  

Ananya Roy
Sabotage, Ostentation, and Attitude: Transformations in Modes of Collective Life in São Paulo’s Peripheries
Thursday, March 31st, 5:20PM – 7:00PM
Hotel Nikko, Nikko Ballroom 2, 3rd Floor

   

Christine Shepardson
Spatiotemporal Symposium: Space-Time Concepts in the GeoHumanities
Thursday, March 31st, 5:20 PM–7:00 PM
Hilton Hotel, Union Square 1, 4th Floor

Islamic Identities
Friday, April 1st, 10:00 AM–11:45 AM
Hotel Nikko, Nikko Ballroom III, 3rd Floor