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200714800 - Monitoring and Models for Restoration and Adaptive Management of White Sturgeon in the Columbia River Basin

Sponsor: US Geological Survey (USGS) - Cook

Budgets: FY07: $153,282 | FY08: $281,257 | FY09: $264,040

Short description: A metapopulation model for white sturgeon will help managers to evaluate restoration strategies (e.g., harvest regulation, translocation, stocking) for this species, and indicate how monitoring data might best be used to provide feedback.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

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

Comment:

ISRP final recommendation: Fundable (Qualified)

Comment:

This proposal to assemble the basin's monitoring information on sturgeon, their habitat, and the efforts underway to manage sturgeon appears worthwhile. The ISRP has been asking for coordinated efforts among the sturgeon researchers, and the proposal intends to collect relevant data from all of them. One thing they likely will find is that the habitats differ among subpopulations, and likewise the management strategies. The metapopulation model is a reasonable framework for assembling the information, although strictly speaking it is hard to see the currently isolated populations as a functioning metapopulation. The model would build on a similar model developed for white sturgeon in the Snake River above the Hells Canyon Project, where remnant populations still exist, primarily above Brownlee Reservoir. A strong point, again from the perspective of the ISRP's desire to see the sturgeon researchers cooperate, is the planned workshop for planning the model. The existing Snake model considers spawning rates, rates of export of larvae from one reservoir to the next downstream, upstream movement of adults (negligible), water quality (mainly temperature and DO), the bioenergetics of sturgeon growth (using a bioenergetics submodel), etc. It does not include specific habitat factors such as the hypothesized riparian connection for egg and larval survival, although these could be included in an updated version for the whole basin. There seems to be room in such a model for the conservation hatchery outputs on the Kootenai, as well as egg mortality in the silty substrate there. Translocation such as is done in the lower Columbia can be included. A key to model success will be the discussions about what to include in it (models will only manipulate the factors put in them, not instigate new ones). The model can serve as a valuable conceptual framework rather than an exercise in precise mathematical formulation and prediction. The model has another advantage for the Fish and Wildlife Program. It is one case where Idaho Power has done the initial work and would contribute funding to the BPA effort. This cooperation would be almost unique and something to foster. The ISRP finds this proposal Fundable (Qualified). The qualification is how the model would be used as a tool for assembling the data and making management recommendations, and whether it is intended to be a computational predictor or a guide. The sponsors also need to establish that the project has the support of the various researchers in the basin from whom the monitoring and research data will have to come. The results of data assembly, model assembly, model runs, and assessments need to be discussed in follow-up workshops with fish managers, and not just lead to a publication for the authors.

State/province recommendation: MS: Recommended Action

Review group: MSRT

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

Comment: The sturgeon proposals should be reviewed together. The results of the current sturgeon workshop would help in prioritizing the sturgeon proposals. A comprehensive management plan for sturgeon is a High Priority need.