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200708900 - Monitoring Invasive Species in the mainstem Columbia River: the development of a design to monitor the status and trends and provide for the early detection of invasive species

Sponsor: US Geological Survey (USGS) - Cook

Budgets: FY07: $350,902 | FY08: $403,695 | FY09: $221,763

Short description: The project sponsors propose to formulate a survey design to monitor the status and trends and to provide for the early detection of invasive species in the mainstem Columbia River.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $0 | FY08: $0 | FY09: $0


ISRP final recommendation: Response requested


This is a proposal to formulate a survey design for invasive species in the mainstem Columbia River and to provide early detection. The proposal needs to be more strategic. What is the link to management? There should be more demonstration of management implications. What will this project result in (in terms of benefits to the native resources)? How much good work has been done solving these invasive species problems after they have been documented? Maybe something can be done if resource managers arrive on the situation early, and that may be the big benefit of this type of project, i.e., better understanding their distribution and abundance to concentrate the management response. Perhaps, the project sponsors could identify vectors to cut off -- ballast inspections, etc -- and methods. There is no single sampling method to do this research. The proposal needs to be prioritized to focus on types of invasive species that may be the most critical. When looking for everything, they may miss the key invasives that influence focal species. Specific research may be required to find the strategic focus, but this may be a more appropriate investment at this time given that we already have a fair knowledge of what invasives are found in the Columbia River Basin. Reviewers like the idea of probability sampling, but the specific gear chosen for sampling fish in particular is of questionable utility. One of the listed tasks is to evaluate effectiveness of sampling gear, but there are many experienced personnel who could advise that, for example trawls or gill nets will not be effective for sampling largemouth or smallmouth bass if one is looking for an index of abundance. The background section is good but somewhat lacking in specifics concerning why the invasives are a problem in the Lower Columbia. Clearly invasive species could potentially affect salmonids and other native biota in the Columbia River Basin. However, the background falls short with respect to invasive fish already present and does not explain which of the 81 aquatic invasives and 123 cryptogenic species (below Bonneville) are the most important to track (for possible control or vector management). For example, if the invasive clams are good food for sturgeon (as claimed), then why worry about them? What is being done to resolve the invasive species issues with other species? We know that American shad is a major invasive, yet no one seems to be doing anything about the 7 million shad that must be competing with some species (even research to identify the impacts). If we have a monitoring program for invasive species, what do we do with the information and how will it be used to benefit the native resources? Reviewers would be interested in hearing response on this issue. It seems like this whole area is one that is ripe for creativity to solve the problem. Although this project is just a plan to document the problem and the changes in distribution and abundance, the region needs to go beyond this monitoring program. The Independent Scientific Group (2000) provided a list of native and invasive fish species in Table 5.3 page 156-160. They expressed a particular concern about northern pike, which have been introduced into one or more lakes in Idaho where they have access to tributaries leading into the mainstem Columbia River. (ISG 2000. Return to the River. NWPCC 2000-12). The same may be said of many other fishes. The proposal relates well to Council’s research plan, Columbia Gorge Subbasin Plan, and the regional invasive species working group. The proposal describes fine coordination with LCREP, LCRANS, and other fish sampling programs. Apparently, this project is trying to build on the presence/absence data in earlier work and develop a better sampling scheme based on EPA’s EMAP design. The objectives of the proposed synoptic program are not well targeted on organisms that could affect fish. The proponents should provide specific information on the most likely "dangerous" invasives. More survey type information may not be that useful. The proposal contained detailed and informative tasks and methods. The use of EMAP method to use sample site is appropriate. The proposal would benefit from more strategic thinking about what to sample, not where to sample. Continued evaluations of the findings would be part of the project. The Cook Lab of USGS is well set up to do this work and has good staff. They have the facilities, good working relationships with other research groups, and a USGS mandate to do this sort of work. However, given the range of organisms they propose to sample (phytoplankton to fish), it is not clear if the correct taxonomic expertise is available. Specimens may have to be farmed out to specialists. Additional types of gear may be required to sample some fishes in proportion to their possible abundance Proponents have a good publication record for journal articles, but the proposal could better describe provision for long-term storage of data or meta-data.

State/province recommendation: MS: Recommended Action

Review group: MSRT

Recommended budgets: FY07: (n/a) | FY08: (n/a) | FY09: (n/a)

Comment: Habitat based monitoring program for invasive species using an EMAP type of approach. Species include mussels, aquatic macrophytes, phytoplankton and zooplankton, and others. The MSRT were concerned that BPA is probably not the appropriate funding source for this project. A significant cost share would be expected if BPA were to fund.