The 2014 Fish and Wildlife Program (Program) calls for the Council to review ongoing research and revise the Program’s Research Plan. The 2006 Research Plan (document 2006-3) lists 44 critical uncertainties, defined as “important knowledge gaps about resources and the functional relationships that determine fish and wildlife productivity in the Columbia River ecosystem.” To help update the Research Plan, the Council asked the Independent Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB) and Independent Scientific Review Panel (ISRP) to reexamine these uncertainties and to recommend revisions after reviewing progress achieved by current research, monitoring, and evaluation projects within the Program.
Organization of the Full Report
Our full response to this request is organized in two parts. Part 1 presents 50 critical uncertainties organized under 14 themes. A rationale is provided for each uncertainty to explain its importance to the Program. Some of these critical uncertainties were revised from those in the 2006 Research Plan, and others are new. Part 2 presents an evaluation of the extent to which 187 ongoing Program projects (those with a research, monitoring, or evaluation component) have addressed, or could potentially address, the 44 critical uncertainties in the 2006 Research Plan. Appendix D to Part 2 provides a synopsis for each reviewed project. The synopsis indicates which of the 2006 uncertainties were directly or indirectly addressed by the project and includes brief comments about methods and results.
Within each theme, most projects addressed the uncertainties in the 2006 Research Plan only indirectly rather than directly (Fig. 1). See full explanation in the Executive Summary.
Figure 1. The number of Program projects that directly and indirectly examined uncertainties in the 2006 Research Plan by theme.
The following recommendations were developed during the ISAB and ISRP’s evaluation and are provided to help revise the Research Plan and improve research within the Program during the next five years.
This ISAB and ISRP review and identification of critical uncertainties is one step in the Council’s process to update the Program’s research plan. Subsequent steps will ensure meaningful opportunity for public input. We emphasize that our evaluation is largely based on our review of annual reports of current Fish and Wildlife Program projects and the cumulative knowledge and expertise of our members rather than a quantitative analysis of empirical data or extensive review of the current scientific literature pertaining to each uncertainty. To increase consistency in our evaluations, we developed guidance criteria for identifying and prioritizing uncertainties. Nevertheless, we want to acknowledge and emphasize the qualitative nature of the prioritization process.
We further emphasize that additional contributions from fish and wildlife managers, project proponents, researchers, and others are needed to inform the Council’s research plan development process.