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200732300 - Investigate genetic parentage analysis techniques to estimate spawner abundance in ESA-listed steelhead populations

Sponsor: Idaho Department of Fish & Game

Budgets: FY07: $406,964 | FY08: $422,191 | FY09: $438,030

Short description: Investigate the feasibility of sampling juvenile steelhead and using parentage analysis techniques to estimate the number of steelhead spawners in rivers.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

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


ISRP final recommendation: Not fundable


The proposal and project are premature and undeveloped. The technical and scientific background on this exploratory research proposal is weak. Much of the first two objectives should be done as part of the project conceptualization and development process. While the technical background on the molecular methods is explained, there is a fair bit of listing computational techniques without much muscle to backup that this approach will provide answers. It is not clear what is actually being proposed other than research for an appropriate technique for estimation of spawner abundance based on genetic sampling of progeny. It is likely that a mathematical derivation is possible, but none is presented, or at least not understandably. The proposal is therefore premature and needs considerable development before reconsideration. The proposed method, once researched and developed, is placed in the context of the Clearwater and Salmon subbasin plans and steelhead monitoring. The rationale lacks a compelling case for its need. The Idaho Steelhead Monitoring and Evaluation Studies are noted as related to this work, but in fact there are many more studies that could be related, across the basin. Collaboration with other geneticists and studies in the basin overall would benefit the developmental work. The first two objectives are to explore the literature and talk with experts. These should have been undertaken as part of the conceptualization process. The third and fourth objectives have a little more meat but lack clarity as to what will be produced except lots of genotypes. No real hypotheses are articulated. Laboratory genetic methods are sound, but lack direction. This is a research project that can potentially lead to M&E tools; however it needs much greater detail and development than is described in the present proposal. The proponents expect benefits for Snake River steelhead, but the outcome is uncertain and therefore benefit horizon is also uncertain. The project should not affect non-focal species. The characteristics of the information to be delivered are unclear.

State/province recommendation: MS: High Priority

Review group: MSRT

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

Comment: This technique would fill gaps in managing steelhead in Idaho (TRT inputs), where adult traps are not being used. The technique would have to be evaluated for cost effectiveness against other sampling methods, once it was developed. The ability to provide an inexpensive technique to fill this gap is a High Priority need across the basin. One member suggested that PNAMP will be providing similar information as part of protocol review, publication, gap analysis and possible side/side comparison. This project could be sequenced as a pilot study once PNAMP provides clearer direction.

State/province recommendation: Not fundable

Review group: Snake

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

Comment: Project not prioritized