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200727500 - Impact of American shad in the Columbia River

Sponsor: Columbia River Research Laboratory

Budgets: FY07: $278,736 | FY08: $360,313 | FY09: $365,160

Short description: American are the most abundant anadromous fish in the Columbia River, although The project sponsors know little about their potential impacts on salmonids and other parts of the aquatic community. The project sponsors propose basic research on potential impacts of juvenile and adult shad.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $133,334 | FY08: $133,333 | FY09: $133,333

Comment: Need to be complete in 3 years.

ISRP final recommendation: Fundable

Comment:

Fundable with high priority. This is a well thought-out proposal, whose results could be of great significance in the management of salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and other fishes in the Columbia Basin. The ISRP has identified several uncertainties associated with American shad in the Columbia Basin (ISRP Retrospective Report, ISRP 2005-14.) This proposal reviews those and is designed to address them. A proposal similar to this one was previously submitted by the same proponents under the Innovative Proposal initiative of the Council. The ISRP gave it a high ranking and recommended it for funding. The Council also recommended to BPA that it be funded. However, BPA did not fund it. Because there is so little known about shad in the Columbia River Basin even a small increment of knowledge on their effects on other species would be beneficial. Technical and scientific background: The proposal clearly identifies and reviews the shad problem. The proponents could have given more details on how they arrived at the four identified hypotheses. One hypothesis is that there is competition with salmonids for food, which might lead to an effect on growth rate of salmonids. To demonstrate this would require significantly more intensive research than is proposed. The proposed isotope work is not necessarily a short-cut method to arrive at such a conclusion. Early research summarized in the proposal suggests another hypothesis, that availability of juvenile shad may provide a consistent food source to northern pikeminnow when salmonids are not available, thus contributing to the ultimate size of the pikeminnow population and the associated increase in losses of juvenile salmonids. The shad population is a substantial biomass. A bioenergetics model would be required to analyze the validity of this hypothesis. Work on other hypotheses (disease, shad as prey, nutrient deficiency) might be appropriate at this time, but not necessarily as part of this proposal. Rationale and significance to subbasin plans and regional programs: There is no relevant Mainstem Subbasin Plan. However, the questions addressed by this proposal are of considerable significance in implementation of mainstem measures in the Council's Fish and Wildlife Program. Relationships to other projects: The work is put in context. The proposal would benefit if linkages were shown to several other projects working on food web relationships (e.g., 20030100). Other projects, which might obtain related information are identified, but there are none being conducted on shad per se. Tasks (work elements) and methods: The proposal does not adequately consider the difficulties in assessing competitive effects on growth and survival of anadromous fish and sturgeon. The simplified food web in the narrative is overly generalized and does not show linkages from invertebrates to algae or detritus from vascular plants. These links, and others, complicate isotope work. Addition of sulfur into the isotope analyses might help. The other components (disease, nutrients, shad as prey) are adequately described and appropriate. Monitoring and evaluation: The project includes no manipulation, and is itself monitoring in nature. The facilities, equipment, and personnel are adequate. Information transfer: There is a good plan for data release, and the proponents have commendable publication records.

State/province recommendation: MS: Recommended Action

Review group: MSRT

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

Comment: The members of the MSRT feel that this is an important management question.