Reviews, narrative and other documents for proposal

201003400: Upper Columbia Spring Chinook and Steelhead Juvenile and Adult Abundance, Productivity, and Spatial Structure Monitoring.

(View full proposal and assessments at

ISRP final recommendation: Meets Scientific criteria? Yes (Qualified)

from Apr 2010 ISRP 2010-10 report

Narrative and other documents

Project 201003400 narrative 01-22-10.doc (narrative)

ISRP preliminary recommendation: Meets scientific criteria? Yes (Qualified)

This proposal describes work that will be very useful in characterizing the population status of upper Columbia Chinook and steelhead. It seems well integrated into the ISEMP M&E effort, and it will also help describe the status of wild production and hatchery survival. The work is consistent with efforts of the UCRTT to improve RM&E methodologies and outputs. A few more details about the quantitative and statistical methods for some work elements would have been helpful, but overall the project is scientifically justified. The needs as outlined in the existing objectives are well articulated in clear language by the proponents. Many aspects of this project, however, seem to require well-developed quantitative skills, statistical skills, and other specialized skills related to PIT tagging arrays. Overall, the resumes of the personnel do not seem to indicate the necessary quantitative and statistical backgrounds to adequately implement, or even necessarily evaluate efforts on, some of the more quantitative objectives. The enlisting or a well-qualified statistician and other quantitative expertise as well as other experts in PIT tag applications will be necessary. It did not seem that this expertise had yet been identified. It might have been beneficial to have such expertise in on the proposal itself. This expertise should be enlisted at the earliest possible time, e.g., to critically evaluate past studies that lead to the need for this effort and to complete a design for locating the arrays. Is the statistician a WDFW statistician or an outside contract person? The proposal is unclear on this point. Similarly, the roles of NMFS and other specialist in the development of an “automated analytical tool for data collected at in-stream PIT tag interrogation systems” (Objective 3) are not clear. There does not seem to be the expertise listed in the proposal to deal with this objective. Should the PIT tag analytical tool be developed by PITAGIS, i.e., at a more centralized site (than in this regional proposal) and coordinated more broadly in the basin. The objective related to spawning ground surveys will fill an identified gap in the Okanogan Basin. The proposal is directed toward several specific objectives necessary for improving precision and accuracy of estimates. However the proponents are also aiming at RPAs 56.1, 57.1, 57.4 - "tributary or in some cases reach specific migration patterns, survival rates, residence time, and limiting factors could be assessed in relationship to habitat restoration actions." The proposal would be improved by more coordination with habitat restoration projects in the subbasins they propose to work in. The installation of all this technology could be helpful to habitat restoration evaluation. 1. Technical Justification, Program Significance and Consistency, and Project Relationships The proposal is technically well justified, adequately linked to the BiOp's RPAs for the upper Columbia, subbasin plans, and well integrated into existing Chinook and steelhead monitoring efforts in the eastern Cascade Mountains. The close connection to ISEMP (some parts of this project were actually designed by ISEMP staff) is beneficial. The proposed work is significant because of the proponents' need to understand the variance of smolt trap population estimates, improve spawning ground population estimates and document migration routes of steelhead and Chinook. Working relationships are stated to be good, and the proponents claim there is good coordination already. The Colville Confederated Tribes will be the lead agency in the Okanogan. Does that mean that WDFW will be the lead agency for the other three basins—the Wenatchee, Entiat, and Methow? There does seem to be overlap between this project and 201002800 (Rotating Panel) and possibly others in this package. It would be helpful to clarify that such overlaps do not exist. Is there adequate communication and working relationships among the various proponents in various sub-basins testing the use of “rotating panels” (i.e., a design of trapping smaller tributaries on a rotational basis) to improve steelhead escapement estimates? This is a new project, but it obviously builds on previous work. 2. Objectives, Work Elements, and Methods The objectives and work elements seemed reasonable and none involved untried technologies or untested field methods. Work elements for each of the seven objectives are summarized in a series of tables. While these tables and the supporting text do a good job of describing what would be done, in some cases few details were given regarding how the work would be done, by whom, and over what periods in the field. The tasks in support of Objective 5 (estimate observer efficiency...) were adequately described, however. Objective 1 Develop variance estimates for smolt abundance estimates This objective is narrowly defined around variance estimates for individual abundance estimates. This is a valid, important objective to meet. Although there is no component of this study aimed at assessing whether the smolt sampling arrays in the various rivers adequately cover the basins, this is also an important aspect affecting the overall abundance estimates and the usefulness of the data. It might be, as a minimum, worthwhile for the statistician to look at how adequacies or inadequacies in the overall array might affect overall abundance estimates in the Upper Columbia in relation to variance of individual estimates investigated in this proposed work. The proposal would be improved by more details on the existing smolt abundance estimates and how they are determined and compared. What is "our current method" (3rd line from bottom, page 2)? "The current method to calculate variance produces high variance estimates, despite good results for (e.g., r2 > 0.7) estimates of trap efficiency" (mid page 2). What is being correlated? More background information on the specifics of statistical adequacies and inadequacies would make the proposal more convincing. Objective 2 Estimate the proportion of hatchery steelhead on the spawning grounds The abstract mentions that this project will build on recent advances in PIT tag technology. The proposal would be improved by inclusion of details on what these advances are. Additional details on where the "additional PIT temporary and permanent arrays" are to be located would also be helpful. How many arrays are needed to complete coverage? Is this a statistical question or is it simply a matter of having an array at the mouth of every tributary where steelhead spawn? Or are they the designated minor spawning aggregations, as mentioned in 201002800? On page 3, relative to this objective, the following statement is made: "While radio telemetry may provide information on distribution and origin composition in the short term (RPA 50.4), it can also be used to verify PIT tag estimates will be used in the long term." This sentence should be re-worded for clarity. The proposed work should assist resolution of the major issue of multiple counts of the same spawner, i.e. "As a result, both wild and hatchery steelhead may be counted in one of more non-natal tributaries prior to spawning which would introduce a positive bias in abundance estimates." On page 13, the text should presumably read “in one or more non-natal…” Objective 3 Develop an automated analytical tool for data collected at in-stream PIT tag interrogation systems. It is not clear why this tool is not being developed by PTAGIS directly as it clearly has application beyond the boundaries and scope of the present proponents. There may be some definite advantages in having this objective addressed at a more centralized site and coordinated broadly in the basin rather than in this proposal. It would be worthwhile for the proponents to explain the rationale for retaining this particular objective in this proposal. Objective 4. Estimate the accuracy of steelhead spawning grounds surveys in the Upper Columbia Basin There is significant overlap between this proposal and 201002800 (Rotating panel on small tributaries of the Tucannon and Snake Rivers.) Has there been communication between the proponents? Or is the work so habitat specific that it has to be done independently in the various sub-basins? Objectives 5 Estimate observer efficiency in conducting redd surveys and calculate a variance estimate for selected tributaries Again, there is significant overlap between this proposal and 201002800 (Rotating panel on small tributaries of the Tucannon and Snake Rivers). Has there been communication between the proponents? Or is the work so habitat specific that it has to be done independently in the various sub-basins? Objective 7 Estimate the annual abundance and age composition of wild and hatchery steelhead upstream of Priest Rapids Dam In the proposal, “systematic sampling of the steelhead migrating pass Priest Rapids Dam would be conducted on a weekly basis (Tuesday and Thursday) throughout the run (July – October). The results would then be expanded. Overall, this proposal deals with issues of accuracy and precision. However, this sampling design (two days in seven, and only one day apart (Tuesday and Thursday)) for this last objective gives the appearance of being designed more for sampling convenience than for accuracy and precision. What information is available that the proposed sampling design is the best choice and that it will yield the desired accuracy and precision? Results will feed into ISEMP and other regional data bases. The proponents do not promise annual reporting or journal papers but presumably data obtained in the study will be generally accessible.

from Feb 2010 ISRP 2010-7 report