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199102900 - Research, monitoring, and evaluation of emerging issues and measures to recover the Snake River fall Chinook salmon ESU

Sponsor: US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS)

Budgets: FY07: $499,731 | FY08: $499,731 | FY09: $499,731

Short description: Our study seeks to identify the factors that contribute to changes in life history timing, growth, and survival of fall Chinook salmon juveniles so that decisions on hydrosystem operation and supplementation can be made informatively.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $456,375 | FY08: $456,375 | FY09: $456,375


ISRP final recommendation: Fundable


This is a well-prepared proposal to continue a project that has been exceptionally productive and well organized. In many respects it is a model proposal. The project is devoted to Snake River fall Chinook and has a proven track record of providing important information necessary to this species' recovery and deserves to be continued. The technical and scientific background is very well written with a clear explanation of the project's history and a persuasive rationale for the work. A point the sponsors may wish to consider is that the use of F1 and F2 generations for supplementation seem ambiguous, and probably inappropriately used here. Is the F1 generation those individuals that are of hatchery-origin, and the F2 those individual born in the wild from the F1 (hatchery-origin) parents? In at least some circles, the hatchery-origin adults spawning in the wild would be the P1 generation; the progeny of these hatchery fish spawning naturally the F1 generation, and their progeny the F2 generation. The proposal does a very good job of relating the work to the FCRPS BiOps, the Council's Fish and Wildlife Program, and the various COE programs. Subbasin plans aren't mentioned although Snake River fall Chinook do enter the lower reaches of several subbasins. There is a good description of the relationship of this project to other work. The proposal sets a standard for a concise year-by-year summary of the project's history, along with the reports and peer-reviewed publications. The proposal sets an example for others by identifying the adaptive management implications of their investigations. Objectives, hypotheses, and methods are clearly described, along with the timelines for completion. The proposal was very explicit, right down to the sample size and statistical tests in many instances. The methods have a proven track record. One statement that may be in error is that "growth of parr and smolts will be directly proportional to temperature." Actually, this statement will only be true over the cooler range and if food availability increases in direct proportion to temperature and provides enough to compensate for the increased basal metabolic requirements of the fish that accompany higher temperatures. At higher temperatures, generally above about 18°C for Chinook salmon, growth rate normally declines because of over-riding metabolic demands. In other words, there may be some scenarios in which growth of parr and smolts is inversely proportional to temperature if temperatures are high and food resources are inadequate. An accurate estimation of food availability is needed, especially when making inferences about the potential for reduced growth of wild fish in the face of large numbers of supplemented fish (these comments apply to Objective 2). The project will be thoroughly monitored and evaluated. The statistical analyses have been peer-reviewed (in prior publications) and are suitable. The proposal gives a good description of how the results can feed back into hydrosystem operations decisions, e.g., summer spill. An excellent feature of the proposal is clear identification of how they are going to use their primary data to test prevailing assumptions about the state of nature, and then the implications of the inference for the next steps in developing management options. Most proposals fail to make a clear connection between the studies they are proposing and deciding among (or designing new) management schemes. The results will be made available in reports, peer-reviewed publications, internet postings, and presentations. Plans for long-term storage of data and meta-data are not completely described, but they are assumed to be adequate. The project staff are some of the best publishers among all BPA projects. In summary, this is a fine example of an effective proposal.

State/province recommendation: MS: Core Program

Review group: MSRT

Recommended budgets: FY07: $456,375 | FY08: $456,375 | FY09: $456,375

Comment: AFEP is funding a study on transportation and spill to determine if hatchery surrogate fish behave in a similar manner as naturally produced smolts. That study evaluates behavior and timing down to Lower Granite Dam. This project focuses on wild fish. All elements of the project may not be Core Program (i.e., food habits).