Reviews, narrative and other documents for proposal

199005500: Idaho Steelhead Monitoring and Evaluation Studies

(View full proposal and assessments at

ISRP final recommendation: Meets Scientific criteria? Response requested

The response adequately addressed most ISRP concerns. The summary file made it easy to identify additions or changes to the original proposal. Presentation of results (pp. 13-17) was generally adequate and gave a good sense of the overall progress being made by the project. Table 3 summarized the MPGs and independent populations where intensive sampling is possible. It is not clear whether this is an exhaustive list of the independent populations. There is only a general statement that extensive snorkel surveys could be conducted anywhere. The layout used in the ISS project provides a succinct and useful outline that is recommended for use by this project. Page 2 of the proposal identifies 2 MPGs, 17 populations, and multiple spawning aggregates for each independent population other than Lolo Creek. Providing this detail in the proposal, and identifying those spawning aggregates that are suitable for snorkel surveys would improve the presentation and should be adopted in future results reporting and proposals. Paragraph 2 on page five provided information known to the project proponents regarding the process to identify locations anticipated for intensive and extensive sampling. The proponents defer to the Snake River M&E strategy but did not provide details on the process to develop and complete this task. Until this strategy is completed, it is not possible for the ISRP to confirm that the activities and tasks executed by ISMES will achieve the data gathering necessary to fulfill the strategy. The response to the ISRP request to provide greater detail of explanation for the precision/sampling intervals for intensive and extensive sites was inadequate. The second paragraph on page 5 simply references the NOAA standard but does not provide clarification about what the standard actually is, how achieving it will be measured, and how their past efforts have compared with the standard. Table 5 and 7 provide variances but do not indicate whether they achieved the required BiOp standard. The proponents state that deficiencies in steelhead monitoring in Idaho were described in the BiOp and that RPA 50.5 is intended to remedy the deficiencies. The ISMES project has been modified to rectify these challenges; however, text is not provided that actually describes these limits and the expanded tasks to fill the gaps. This project should be reviewed in more detail during the upcoming RME review to ensure it is going to meet the BiOp and Snake River M&E strategy needs.

from Apr 2010 ISRP 2010-10 report

Narrative and other documents

199005500 responses to ISRP questions final.docx
199005500 2010-2014 proposal ISRP revisions final.docx (narrative)
199005500.doc (narrative)

ISRP preliminary recommendation: Meets scientific criteria? Response requested

The field data collected and then analyzed by the Idaho Steelhead Monitoring and Evaluation Studies (ISMES) is appropriate and used in management of steelhead populations. Because the proposal lacks a comprehensive explanation of steelhead monitoring in Idaho, the specific role ISMES contributes is difficult to ascertain. The ISRP has no reason to believe the monitoring is not essential, but the need for monitoring should be made clearer in the proposal. Consequently, a response is requested that provides the following in a revised narrative: 1. A table that outlines the ESU, MPG, Independent Populations, and streams in the Snake River system and that identifies which are potential high precision and low precision sites for RME. 2. A summary explanation of what process is underway (if any) to decide which component streams are part of the intensive and extensive sampling. 3. Greater detail of explanation for the precision/sampling intervals for intensive and extensive sites. 4. A summary table of the data collected for each of the sites by the ISMES (or cooperators) since the last ISRP review. Also include trend data that summarize steelhead abundance trends over the duration of the study period. 5. Comparison of the precision and sampling intervals in the ISMES streams with that desired by the BiOp RME statistical analysis. 6. Statements for the ISRP about any events or problems since the last review that may compromise the analysis of the ISMES. 7. Statements of whether any deficiencies in the data have been identified in BiOp, TRT, or CSMEP reports, and if so, description of how these deficiencies have been considered in the basinwide strategy and subsequent project modification. 1. Technical Justification, Program Significance and Consistency, and Project Relationships The Idaho Steelhead Monitoring and Evaluation Study (ISMES) is another long-standing project that has benefited from previous ISRP reviews and interactions with the project proponents. The project has a long and developing history. It is well justified within the proposal and in the Council's Program. Relationships with other projects are extensive (Table 3 in proposal) and involve collaborations and efficiencies for data collection, data exchange, and coordination. The project appears consistent with the Fish and Wildlife Program and BiOp and ESA management needs. There is specific reference to increase B-run steelhead monitoring in RPA 50.5. The proponent states this project is the only one focused on wild steelhead in Idaho. This, however, does not address the question of whether the objectives of this study fulfill the RPA, or whether other projects also contribute. The proposal references the Columbia Basin Regional RM&E Strategy and directs reviewers to a CBFWA website and table titled Critical Contracts and Identified Gaps, to justify continuing much of the past ISMES program. It would be helpful to the ISRP to summarize in a table in the proposal the essential monitoring that is needed for Idaho steelhead, and then identify which projects and proponents are suppose to complete these tasks. Ongoing and new tasks for ISEMS should be specifically identified. This project, together with others in the Snake River would benefit from an integrated review. Many projects overlap in duties, species addressed, and personnel. The general explanation that data collected by this project are used to estimate VSP parameters for the Snake River Steelhead ESU (DPS) is well done; the VSP parameters are summarized, the hierarchy of spawning aggregates, independent populations, major population groups, and then the ESU is explained, and the general sorts of data used to estimate the parameters are referenced. Specific information on the details of the hierarchical structure of Snake River steelhead ESU is incomplete in the technical background summary. Figure 1 (page 13) that identifies weir and screw-trap locations leads to the conclusion that there are two MPGs, and the appendix leads to the conclusion that there are a number of “populations” associated with individual tributaries. However, there is no statement as to the number of MPGs, the number of populations, and how many of these have multiple spawning aggregates. The recent steelhead genetic structure investigation that apparently forms the basis for anticipating delineation of adults and juveniles at Lower Granite Dam to MPG and perhaps population is not sufficiently summarized for reviewers to understand the state of development of this monitoring strategy. It is also not clear whether the precision of past data is sufficient for BiOp and recovery/delisting management decisions. 2. Project History and Results The project history section is well done in terms of describing activities undertaken. Missing, however, are results in terms of what the project has found out about the “status and trends of wild steelhead populations” (the project purpose, as stated on page 1 of the proposal narrative). The project has evolved and become both more rigorous and comprehensive than its earlier versions. Some rudimentary (and intriguing) results were referred to on page 11 in the proposal, but not presented. Reviewers would like to see more findings presented, given the duration and ongoing nature of the project. The narrative on pages 11 and 12, together with the maps of snorkel sites, screw traps, and weirs are helpful; however, the project history and results are insufficient to inform a scientific review for ongoing efforts and to establish that standards for quality assurance/quality control for the Columbia Basin Monitoring Strategy are being met. A summary of the genetic analysis that concludes that sampling at Lower Granite Dam can be used to estimate the proportions of MPGs and some individual populations is necessary. Estimates of metrics under objectives 1 through 8 should be summarized in the proposal. There should be evidence included that the sampling protocols are rigorous enough to meet the guidelines for precision in the basinwide strategy. The project accomplishments shown in the tabular outline and in the narrative consist only of actions performed, rather than biological results. What has been found out about what the narrative states as the project's purpose—to evaluate the status and trends of wild steelhead populations in Idaho? It is said: "We will assess abundance, productivity, spatial structure, and diversity at the population and major population group scales . . . also assess abundance, productivity, and diversity for the Snake River Distinct Population Segment." Project proponents should present the findings to date on these matters as part of the proposal and to help reviewers evaluate the project's progress. Additionally, proponents should describe how this data fits and has fitted with TRT analysis of population viability and estimation of VSP parameters. Proponents should explicitly describe how their past data has been used and how the additions would inform future VSP analysis. The high precision data type is not clear. The reference to a CV of 15% or less (Crawford and Rumsey 2009) has not been established as a reasonable data standard. CV (coefficient of variation) is not usually associated with precision of data, but with the variation associated with a state of nature. That is, salmon abundance across years has a CV, fall steelhead parr length has a CV. These are descriptions of the state of variation. They are not appropriate to determine confidence intervals. Crawford and Rumsey (2009) reference Carlile et al. (2008), which makes recommendations for coefficients of variation for estimates of total spawning escapement. The reference is to standard error of the estimate, not to variation in the population. More importantly, the statistical and biological basis for the recommendation in Carlile et al. (2008) has not been reviewed. The justification that the standard represents a realistic goal for planning because it corresponds to an acceptable risk (one year of one stock in six) of failing to label a stock of concern when warranted appears to be arbitrary. The observation that the standard has proven to be attainable for many escapement estimation studies does not mean that this is the appropriate data standard. Further justification for sample size targets is required. 3. Objectives, Work Elements, and Methods Project work elements have been retained from the earlier (2007-2009) project to provide continuity; however, other elements have been added to expand the project in response to mandates in the Idaho Fish Accords. The objectives and work elements are clearly stated in the proposal. The overall objective of estimating VSP parameters for Idaho Snake River steelhead is scientifically defensible. Methods are typically general, though supporting or source methods are noted (such as the modification of Thurow et al.'s 2006 snorkel survey methods for observation of marked juvenile steelhead). Other sections include detailed and specific descriptions of equipment and methods appropriate for the proposal and its objectives. Questions regarding individual objectives follow: Objective 1. Why is the minimum sample size 2,000 (page 15)? If the wild steelhead are sub-sampled to attain 2,000 fish, how can this be called a minimum sample? This seems more like a target sample. Work element B. How are results from different scales from an individual fish reconciled (page 16)? Is there any effort to use PIT tagged fish to establish the "true" age so error rates can be estimated? How would this error affect population dynamic and viability assessments and management uncertainty? Work element D. Why a sample size of 2000 smolts? Objective 2. Identify the MPG and independent populations associated with Fish Creek, Rapid River, and Big Creek (The appendix tables are inconsistent with reference to MPGs. One table has 2 MPGs and a second table has 5). Work element G. Why are hatchery adults being released into the Lochsa River? How does this influence the abundance and productivity estimates for VSP in the associated independent population, MPG, and DPS. Work element H. It is not clear how population estimates are generated using the fish obtained through hook and line fishing. Please elaborate. Work element I. Explain why wild steelhead are being enumerated using a fish hatchery ladder. Do all the steelhead in this stream enter the ladder? How are they passed upstream? How are unmarked hatchery fish assessed and differentiated from wild fish? Objective 3, work element P. It is not clear if some of the field work associated with estimates of adult escapement above weirs in other rivers is conducted by personnel from ISMES, or if ISMES only conducts analysis. Objective 4. Work element R. Please elaborate on the GRTS rotating panel used for this analysis. For snorkel surveys (and concomitant evaluation of "gross habitat characteristics") is the "desired average site length" of 100 m always long enough to adequately sample the habitat types mentioned (pool, pocket water, riffle, or run)—or at least one of them in its entirety per site, and is this important? Use of 100-m sites is apparently based on just a single reference (Thurow et al, 2006). Adequate site length may depend largely on channel width. Size and longitudinal spacing of habitat types are generally proportional to channel width. A stream 2 or 3 meters wide could be expected to include a series of several pools and riffles within a 100-meter reach (if it has pool-riffle structure), but a stream of about 20 meters wide or larger could happen to include just part of one pool or of one riffle within a 100-meter reach, thus not cover even one habitat unit. Would adjusting site length according to channel width better represent habitat conditions than arbitrarily setting 100 meters as the desired site length for all streams? Are channel widths of the study sites reported in the narrative? The proposal could be improved by listing the project's streams and their study sites, showing characteristics, such as streamflow discharge (range of flows and those usually occurring at season of sampling), channel width, channel gradient, habitat features, and channel length sampled. The proposal cites that the goals and strategies for monitoring and evaluation of the status of Snake River Chinook salmon and steelhead were identified in the fall 2009 RM&E workshop. It is not entirely clear how ISMES has been expanded or modified to meet the basinwide monitoring strategy. More information is needed for evaluation of whether the increased effort meets the RM&E goals. In particular, one goal is to "obtain high precision status and trend data for at least one population per adult life-history type per MPG (fish in, fish out monitoring). One of the open questions is the selection of populations for this monitoring. The ISMES suggests that they may be collecting this information; however, the population is not yet selected. A succinct summary of the MPGs and independent populations established by the TRT, which have high precision data, and which are associated with the ISS, needs to be included.

from Feb 2010 ISRP 2010-7 report