Response for project 199902000: Analyze Persistence/Dynamics S

Comment on proposed FY 2006 budget

This project was incorrectly listed as being completed- it is not. Below I provide justification for the 2006 request of $102,400. Results will advance current understanding of the relationship between the distribution, pattern, and persistence of Chinook salmon and landscape patterns. Failure to fund this research in 2006 will jepardize one of the most robust and valuable salmon datasets in the Columbia River Basin. As reflected in the comments below, it is critical to continue this key data set. CBFWA Funding Decision Listed as a High Priority “Reviewers suggest that the Project meets critical needs for long-term monitoring, indexing, acquisition of life history information, and analysis of the spatial structure of a wild chinook salmon population. The extensive spawning habitat data available for the Middle Fork Salmon River through Project # 199902000 provides an excellent test site for the physical model. The model is robust, however, and once validated can be applied to any river basin. The model could have immediate use for identifying critical habitats and examining scenarios for best management practices for maintaining or optimizing spawning habitat. Moreover, the model would provide a physically-based, defensible method for assessing spawning habitat and prioritizing management actions at watershed scales.” NWPPC Funding Recommendation “The Council recommendation relies heavily on the NMFS comments that call this project "an important contribution to the design of a comprehensive monitoring program in the Snake River basin. NMFS stated that the project is "particularly important" in that it continues a key data set and associating redd survey data with explanatory environmental characteristics. NMFS states that the project responds to RPA 180.” NMFS Review “This is another important contribution to the design of a comprehensive monitoring program in the SR basin. It is particularly important for two reasons: continuing a key data set; associating a high quality redd survey data set with potentially explanatory environmental characteristics.

Accomplishments since the last review

Aerial Chinook salmon redd counts were completed in the mainstem MFSR and 12 tributaries during 2002-2004. A GPS unit was used to georeferenced spawning areas and redds. GPS files were corrected and transferred into GIS for spatial analysis. Summaries of redd surveys were submitted to collaborators. In cooperation with scientists in the UI Ecohydraulics Research Group, we have examined geomorphic controls on the spatial distribution of spawning gravels using a model that predicted substrate size as a function of channel hydraulics (channel type and bankfull discharge). Field studies were conducted to quantify reach-average channel type, substrate size, and channel dimensions (bankfull depth, width, and channel gradient). Results show a strong correspondence between predicted locations of suitable spawning gravels and observed locations of redds, indicating that much of the spatial pattern of Chinook salmon spawning may be explained by the effects of channel hydraulics on substrate size. We continued and expanded the research to sample a broader range of locations and underlying geologies in the basin. We have initiated work to examine the effects of sediment supply on substrate size and quality. We have begun statistical analyses of annual patterns of spawning locations and density. Results have been presented at the AFS Transboundary conference (Buffington et al. 2002, Isaak and Thurow 2002), Idaho chapter AFS meetings (Thurow and Isaak 2003, Isaak and Thurow 2003, Isaak et al. 2005), AFS National meetings (Isaak et al. 2003, Thurow and Isaak 2004, Isaak and Thurow 2004), Western Division AFS meetings (Thurow and Isaak 2004, Isaak and Thurow 2004), the North American Benthological Society meeting (Isaak and Thurow 2004), and the Biobío River Scientific Forum, University of Concepción, Chile (Buffington et al. 2004). One manuscript has been published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (Isaak et al. 2003) and three manuscripts are in review. Quarterly and Annual reports have been submitted to BPA and additional manuscripts are in progress.

FY 2006 goals and anticipated accomplishments

Deliverables that will be provided as a result of 2006 funds: 1- A complete annual census and database of spatially located Chinook salmon redds in the entire MFSR 2- A database of spatially located potential Chinook salmon spawning patches in the study area 3- Refined predictions of spawning gravel availability; correcting reach-average grain-size predictions for subreach variability (sediment patches) as a function of channel type and roughness. 4- An empirical model to predict potential spawning patch location, size, and quality as functions of physical landscape features. 5- A refined hydraulic model and model predictions. 6- Testing and refinement of a sediment routing model and inclusion of a wood module (input, routing, and consequent morphologic and habitat effects of wood). 7- A model that applies patch quality, size, and connectivity to predict the likelihood of Chinook salmon spawning and occurrence. 8- Assessments of how synchrony in redd distributions changes in response to population size and environmental characteristics. Deliverables are being shared with collaborators and developed as manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals.

Subbasin planning

How is this project consistent with subbasin plans?

Research Project #1999-020-00 provides a key deliverable consisting of a spatially continuous, temporally robust (1995-2004), basin wide Chinook salmon redd count in the Middle Fork Salmon River (MFSR) drainage. This deliverable directly addresses the following Salmon Subbasin Plan Objectives and strategies: Aquatic Objective 2A: Strategy 2A1. monitor abundance and productivity of wild stocks- pg 23 Strategy 2A2. identify where there is a lack of knowledge pertaining to the population size of anadromous species- pg 24 Strategy 2A7. evaluate effectiveness of ongoing programs- pg 24 Aquatic Objective 3C: Strategy 3C1. quantify population specific adult abundance- pg 25 Strategy 3C3. determine population productivity- pg 25 Our analysis incorporates historical (since 1957) as well as present salmon population data and also addresses: Aquatic Objective 1A: Strategy 1A2. develop historic run reconstruction data- pg 20 The analysis is designed to assess the factors influencing the persistence of and amount of area required to support Chinook salmon populations so directly addresses: Aquatic Objective 2A: improve understanding and definition of small populations- pg 23 We are relating the location, size, and quality of key salmon spawning habitats to basin geomorphic features. This research program has direct application to habitat conservation and rehabilitation efforts in the basin. For example, below we list just a sample of the objectives our research will inform by providing information to describe substrate and wood in undisturbed spawning habitats: Aquatic Objective 8A: increase the number of pieces of LWD- pg 33 Aquatic Objective 38B: reduce sediment in spawning gravels- pg 37 This research provides the following “Key Performance Measures” cited on pages 125-127 as being critical for a Monitoring and Evaluation Plan: redd counts, adult-adult ratios, adult spawner spatial distribution, adult spawner abundance, physical habitat, water temperature, and stream network. Finally, this research provides an annual, continuous sample of redds that may be used to estimate the number and spatial distribution of adult salmon. As a result, it provides information that may be useful to address: Aquatic Objective 7A: spatially assess the impact of carcass related nutrient reductions ….- pg 33

How do goals match subbasin plan priorities?

On page 153 of the Salmon Subbasin Plan, the following needs were identified: population-specific adult abundance and productivity key performance data. This research directly addresses both of those needs. This research also directly addresses several of the “considerations for rankings” listed on page 154 (spatial structure, abundance, productivity, and diversity). This research directly addresses key performance measures cited on page 26 as lacking for anadromous fish in the Salmon Subbasin, specifically: 1) addressing key BIOP questions for research, monitoring, and evaluation and 2) providing unbiased and precise estimators of abundance and productivity targets. Further, this research addresses identified research needs (pg 120) including performance measures of adult spawner spatial distribution and population growth rate (lambda). Finally, this research addresses at least three critical needs identified in Regional Program documents. 1) the need for long-term information to assess trends in wild Chinook salmon populations; 2) the need for evaluation of broadscale population sampling and inventory methods; and 3) the need for analysis of the spatial structure of wild Chinook salmon populations. This research provides a georeferenced dataset of the network-scale distribution of Chinook salmon redds across a large wilderness basin. Spatially continuous sampling designs, when temporally replicated as this one, provide tremendous utility for answering questions regarding dynamic ecological systems at scales in which important biophysical processes operate. The wide range of priorities to which this dataset is applicable demonstrates its uniqueness within the Columbia River Basin.

Other comments

As noted above, this Project #1999-020-00 was incorrectly listed as being completed. Funds in the amount of $102,400 are requested for two major efforts: to continue the spatially continuous, temporally robust (1995-2004), basin wide Chinook salmon redd count and to complete the analysis of geomorphic controls on the distribution of spawning gravels. This project was recommended for funding by CBFWA and other agencies at the following levels: 2002: $215,194 / 2003: $205,491 / 2004: $160,491 /2005: $160,491. The 2006 request is for a reduction in funds to $102,400. The 2006 request includes funds to maintain annual, spatially continuous salmon redds counts in order to build upon the database developed since 1995 and to provide critical data for Project #2002-049-00. The remainder of the funds will be used to support the final months of funding for a Postdoctoral research fellow who is completing the analysis of geomorphic controls on the distribution of salmon spawning habitats. Thank you for the opportunity to clarify and justify this funding request for 2006.