BPA Fish and Wildlife FY 1997 Proposal

Section 1. Administrative
Section 2. Narrative
Section 3. Budget

see CBFWA and BPA funding recommendations

Section 1. Administrative

Title of project
Evaluate Sturgeon Habitat Requirements

BPA project number   8605002

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding
National Biological Service

Sponsor type   WA-Federal Agency

Proposal contact person or principal investigator
 NameMichael J. Parsley
 Mailing addressColumbia River Research Laboratory
5501A Cook-Underwood Road
Cook, WA 98605
 Phone509/538-2299

BPA technical contact   ,

Biological opinion ID   

NWPPC Program number   10.4A.2

Short description
Investigate the early life history and define habitat used by spawning and rearing white sturgeon and quantify the habitat available in the Columbia and Snake River reservoirs downstream from Priest Rapids and Lower Granite Dams.

Project start year   1986    End year   

Start of operation and/or maintenance   0

Project development phase   Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects
Project 860500 funds a variety of studies by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Biological Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nez Pierce Tribe, and the Columbia River Intertribal Fisheries Commission. Each cooperator undertakes specific tasks with the goal of increasing our understanding of the effects of hydropower system operation on populations of white sturgeon in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

The tasks outlined below are directly complemented by work proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under Project 8605000.

Project history
This study was designed to describe the reproduction and early life history of white sturgeon, define habitat used for spawning and rearing, quantify the extent of habitat available, and evaluate the need for and identify potential methods for protecting, mitigating, and enhancing white sturgeon. Project activities during 1986-1992 focused on the reservoirs downstream from McNary Dam. In 1993, the project extended into the McNary Reservoir. Project results have been used to arrest declines in impounded populations resulting from reduced productivity related to impoundment.

The National Biological Service began a telemetry study to determine habitat use and movements of white sturgeon in McNary Reservoir in 1996. The collection of data (mapping substrates and incorporation of bathymetry into a geographic information system, measurements of water depths, elevations, and velocities along transects for hydraulic simulations) necessary to describe how much of the available habitat is suitable for spawning and rearing fish were begun in 1994 and continued in 1995 and 1996.

Since the inception of this project in 1986, the National Biological Service has contributed costs towards this project including computers and computer peripherals for project personnel, two pickups, two boats (21' and 23') boat and equipment storage facilities, office space, publications page charges, and personnel.

Biological results achieved
The National Biological Service has confirmed that spawning by white sturgeon occurs downstream from The Dalles, John Day, McNary, Priest Rapids, and Ice Harbor dams. We have used bottom trawls to capture young-of-the-year and older white sturgeons from the Bonneville, The Dalles, John Day, and McNary reservoirs. We defined the habitat used by spawning and rearing white sturgeons, and used this information to quantify the habitat available for spawning and rearing fish. We conducted hydraulic simulations of the tailraces where spawning occurs, modeled the effects of river discharge on this habitat, and constructed a time series of the availability of spawning habitat for white sturgeons since 1985.

Annual reports and technical papers
McCabe, G. T. And L. G. Beckman. 1991. Use of an artificial substrate to collect white sturgeon eggs. California Fish and Game 76:248-250.

Parsley, M. J. 1992. Use of a raster structured GIS in fisheries research activities on the Columbia River. in F. D'erchia, editor, Proceedings of the Third National U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Geographic Information Systems Workshop. May 1992, LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

Parsley, M. J., L. G. Beckman, and G. T. McCabe. 1993. Spawning and rearing habitat use by white sturgeons in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 122:217-227.

Warren, J. J. and L. G. Beckman. 1993. Fishway use by white sturgeon on the Columbia River. Washington Sea Grant, Columbia River Series WSG-AS-93-02.

Parsley, M. J., and L. G. Beckman. 1994. White sturgeon spawning and rearing habitat in the lower Columbia River. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 14:812-827.

Miller, A. I., T. D. Counihan, M. J. Parsley, and L. G. Beckman. 1995. Columbia River Basin white sturgeon. Pages 154 158 in E. T. LaRoe, editor. Our living resources: a report to the nation on the distribution, abundance, and health of U.S. plants, animals, and ecosystems. U. S. Department of the Interior, National Biological Service, Washington D. C.

Miller, A. I., and L. G. Beckman. 1996. Predation on white sturgeon eggs by sympatric fishes. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. 125:338-340.

Beckman, L. G., D. E. Palmer, and M. J. Parsley. 1987. Report C; Pages 38-49 in A. A. Nigro editor. Status and habitat requirements of white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam. Report to Bonneville Power administration (Project 86-50), Portland, Oregon.

Palmer D. E., M. J. Parsley, and L. G. Beckman. 1988. Status and habitat requirements of white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam. Report C in A. A. Nigro editor. Status and habitat requirements of white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam. Report to Bonneville Power administration (Project 86-50), Portland, Oregon.

Parsley, M. J., S. D. Duke, T. J. Underwood, and L. G. Beckman. 1989. Report C; Pages 101-166 in A. A. Nigro editor. Status and habitat requirements of white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam. Report to Bonneville Power administration (Project 86-50), Portland, Oregon.

Duke, S. D., T. J. Underwood, G. M. Asbridge, R. G. Griswold, M. J. Parsley, and L. G. Beckman. 1990. Report C; Pages 78-148 in A. A. Nigro, editor. Status and habitat requirements of white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam. Annual Report to Bonneville Power Administration (project 86-50), Portland, Oregon.

Miller, A. I., P. J. Anders, M. J. Parsley, C. R. Sprague, J. J. Warren, and L. G. Beckman. 1991. Report C; Pages 82-144 in A. A. Nigro, editor. Status and habitat requirements of white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam. Annual Report to Bonneville Power Administration (project 86-50), Portland, Oregon.

Anders, P. J., and L. B. Beckman. 1993. Comparisons of white sturgeon egg mortality and juvenile deformity among four areas of the Columbia River. Pages 355-364 in R. C. Beamesderfer and A. A. Nigro, editors. Status and habitat requirements of the white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam, Volume II. Final Report (Contract DE-AI79-86BP63584) to Bonneville Power Administration, Portland, Oregon.

Anders, P. J., and L. B. Beckman. 1993. Location and timing of white sturgeon spawning in three Columbia River impoundments. Pages 47-60 in R. C. Beamesderfer and A. A. Nigro, editors. Status and habitat requirements of the white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam, Volume I. Final Report (Contract DE-AI79-86BP63584) to Bonneville Power Administration, Portland, Oregon.

Anders, P. J., and L. B. Beckman. 1993. White sturgeon spawning cues in an impounded reach of the Columbia River. Pages 123-140 in R. C. Beamesderfer and A. A. Nigro, editors. Status and habitat requirements of the white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam, Volume II. Final Report (Contract DE-AI79-86BP63584) to Bonneville Power Administration, Portland, Oregon.

Anders, P. J., A. I. Miller, and L. B. Beckman. 1993. Feasibility of radio telemetry to document fish movement and habitat use in Lower Columbia River impoundments. Pages 47-54 in R. C. Beamesderfer and A. A. Nigro, editors. Status and habitat requirements of the white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam, Volume II. Final Report (Contract DE-AI79-86BP63584) to Bonneville Power Administration, Portland, Oregon.

Miller, A. I. and L. G. Beckman. 1993. Age and growth of juvenile white sturgeon in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam. Pages 201-216 in R. C. Beamesderfer and A. A. Nigro, editors. Status and habitat requirements of white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam, volume II. Final Report (contract DE-AI79-86BP63584) to Bonneville Power Administration, Portland, Oregon.

Miller, A. I., and L. G. Beckman. 1993. A recruitment index for white sturgeon in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam. Pages 141-166 in R. C. Beamesderfer and A. A. Nigro, editors. Status and habitat requirements of the white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam, Volume II. Final Report (Contract DE-AI79-86BP63584) to Bonneville Power Administration, Portland, Oregon.

Miller, A. I., and L. G. Beckman. 1993. Predation on white sturgeon eggs by sympatric fish species in three Columbia River impoundments. Pages 343-354 in R. C. Beamesderfer and A. A. Nigro, editors. Status and habitat requirements of the white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam, Volume II. Final Report (Contract DE-AI79-86BP63584) to Bonneville Power Administration, Portland, Oregon.

Miller, A. I., T. D. Counihan, M. J. Parsley, and L. G. Beckman. 1993. Report C; Pages 52-57 in R. C. Beamesderfer and A. A. Nigro, editors. Effects of mitigative measures on productivity of white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam. Annual Report to Bonneville Power Administration (project 86-50), Portland, Oregon.

Parsley, M. J., P. J. Anders, A. I. Miller, L. G. Beckman, and G. T. McCabe, Jr. 1993. Factors affecting spawning and recruitment of white sturgeon in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam. Pages 61-82 in R. C. Beamesderfer and A. A. Nigro, editors. Status and habitat requirements of the white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam, Volume I. Final Report (Contract DE-AI79-86BP63584) to Bonneville Power Administration, Portland, Oregon.

Parsley, M. J., and L. G. Beckman. 1993. An evaluation of spawning and rearing habitat for white sturgeon in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam. Pages 231-261 in R. C. Beamesderfer and A. A. Nigro, editors. Status and habitat requirements of the white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam, volume I. Final Report (contract DE-AI79-86BP63584) to Bonneville Power Administration, Portland, Oregon.

Parsley, M. J., G. T. McCabe, Jr, and L. G. Beckman. 1993. Habitat use by spawning and rearing white sturgeon in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam. Pages 207-230 in R. C. Beamesderfer and A. A. Nigro, editors. Status and habitat requirements of the white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam, Volume I. Final Report (Contract DE-AI79-86BP63584) to Bonneville Power Administration, Portland, Oregon.

Sprague, C. R., and L. G. Beckman. 1993. Prey selection by juvenile white sturgeon in reservoirs of the Columbia River. Pages 229-244 in R. C. Beamesderfer and A. A. Nigro, editors. Status and habitat requirements of the white sturgeon Populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam, volume II. Final Report (Contract DE-AI79-86BP63584) to Bonneville Power Administration, Portland, Oregon.

Warren, J. J. and L. G. Beckman. 1993. Fishway use by white sturgeon to bypass mainstem Columbia River dams. Pages 119-136 in R. C. Beamesderfer and A. A. Nigro, editors. Status and habitat requirements of the white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam, Volume I. Final Report (contract DE-AI79-86BP63584) to Bonneville Power Administration, Portland, Oregon.

Counihan, T. D., A. I. Miller, M. J. Parsley, and L. G. Beckman. 1995. Effects of mitigative measures on productivity of white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam and Status and habitat requirements of white sturgeon populations in the Columbia and Snake rivers upstream from McNary Dam. Pages 90-134 in K. T. Beiningen, editor. Effects of mitigative measures on productivity of white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam and Status and habitat requirements of white sturgeon populations in the Columbia and Snake rivers upstream from McNary Dam. Annual Report to Bonneville Power Administration (project 86-50), Portland, Oregon.

Parsley, M. J., T. D. Counihan, and A. I. Miller. In press. Report C in K. Beiningen editor. Effects of mitigative measures on productivity of white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam, and status and habitat requirements of white sturgeon populations in the Columbia and Snake rivers upstream from McNary Dam. Annual Report to the Bonneville Power Administration, Portland, Oregon.

Management implications
These studies provide insight into the effects of hydropower development and system operations on white sturgeon populations in the Columbia River Basin. We now know that spawning habitat is affected by spring and summer river discharges, but the effects differ at each dam because of differences in channel morphometry. We learned that although spawning occurs each year in each dam tailrace, recruitment to young of the year is sometimes negligible, and appears correlated with the amount of spawning habitat that was available.

Specific measureable objectives
Quantify the amount of habitat available for spawning and rearing white sturgeons in the McNary pool including the free-flowing Columbia River downstream from Priest Rapids Dam and the Snake River downstream from Ice Harbor Dam. Describe the effects of river discharge on this habitat. Define seasonal habitat use by white sturgeons and describe daily and seasonal patterns of movement of these fish.

Testable hypothesis
Habitat use by white sturgeons differs among seasons.

Spawning habitat for white sturgeons in each known spawning area does not differ among years as a result of river discharges and water temperatures that occurred, which in turn are influenced by hydropower system operations.

Recruitment of white sturgeon to young of the year in the Bonneville Reservoir is unrelated to the amount of spawning habitat that occurred during that year.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
The hydraulic simulations necessary to quantify the habitat in the free-flowing Hanford Reach and in the Snake River downstream from Ice Harbor Dam are being conducted by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel who are also funded under this project

Methods
We will describe the habitat used by white sturgeon by conducting an analysis of water depth, velocity, and substrate at sites where fish are located through sonic telemetry. Criteria curves defining the suitability of each habitat descriptor will be developed by applying non-parametric tolerance limits to the observations. Fish to be tagged with crystal-controlled high-power sonic transmitters will be captured by setlining. During each seasonal period, twelve fish will be tagged with these transmitters and an additional six fish will be tagged with depth-indicating tags. The fish will be captured and released throughout the study area. Water depths will be measured with recording fathometers, water velocities will be measured with mechanical meters and with an acoustic doppler current profiler, substrates will be determined with dredges and underwater cameras.

Habitat will be quantified by using the physical habitat simulation system developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and by cartographic modeling with a Geographic Information System (GIS).
We will continue to provide an index of the amount of spawning habitat downstream from McNary, John Day, The Dalles, and Bonneville dams that occurred as a result of river discharge and water temperatures that occur each year.

Brief schedule of activities
Activities for 1997 include: Define habitat use by white sturgeon in the McNary Pool including the free-flowing Columbia River downstream from Priest Rapids Dam and the Snake River downstream from Ice Harbor Dam.
Quantify habitat for white sturgeon in the impounded portion of the McNary Pool.
Calculate the index of spawning habitat for 1996 for spawning areas located downstream from McNary, John Day, The Dalles, and Bonneville dams.

Plans for 1998-2001 include: Determine the location, timing, and duration of white sturgeon spawning in the Ice Harbor, Little Goose, and Lower Monumental reservoirs.
Determine habitat use by white sturgeons in these reservoirs and quantify the spawning and rearing habitat available for these fish.
Continue to evaluate methods to provide a statistically robust index of recruitment to young of the year.
Continue investigations into the ecology and biology of white sturgeons, including laboratory and field studies on mechanisms affecting dispersal of larvae from spawning areas and recruitment to young of the year.

Biological need
Hydropower development has isolated once anadromous white sturgeons into discrete populations bounded by dams, severely restricting movements to make use of seasonally favorable food supplies and habitat. Little is known of the life history and habitat needs of this species. This information is needed by fisheries managers to maintain viable populations.

Critical uncertainties
Harvest management strategies spanning more than 30 years have been unsuccessful in arresting the decline of this species in some areas, suggesting that factors other than fishing mortality influence white sturgeon populations. Knowledge gained from an understanding of the early life history, habitat use, seasonal distribution, and spawning activities of white sturgeon in impounded areas should aid in arresting declines and rehabilitating these populations.

Summary of expected outcome
The information we obtain on habitat use by white sturgeons in free-flowing and impounded river reaches will be used to provide estimates of the amount of habitat that is available for spawning and rearing fish. The time series analysis of spawning habitat spanning several years can be used to better understand how operation of the hydropower system affects this habitat and the white sturgeon populations.

Information on the daily and seasonal movements and activities will be used to assist in designing sampling strategies to be used in stock assessments. In the McNary Reservoir, this information may also allow us to determine if the white sturgeons present in this study area are the result of spawning that occurred downstream from Priest Rapids Dam or downstream from Ice Harbor Dam.

We expect to identify where and when spawning by white sturgeon occurs in areas where spawning has not been documented (Ice Harbor, Little Goose, and Lower Monumental reservoirs).

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
Completion of this project requires obtaining fish collection permits from the states of Oregon and Washington. We have obtained these permits in previous years. We currently have a Section 7 Consultation (#63) to perform these activities until September 1998. We have a history of providing assistance to, and cooperating with other federal, state, and tribal entities. We foresee no difficulties in continuing the high level of cooperation that has been a trademark of this project.

Risks
This work poses minimal risk to the public, government agencies, or Indian tribes. Sampling gears are clearly marked when left unattended and are not placed in areas where they may pose a threat to the public welfare. These activities pose no threat to the environment or to resident and anadromous fish. Generally, all fish we capture, except eggs and larvae, are released. The numbers of white sturgeon eggs and larvae that are collected for laboratory analysis are low (less than 500/year). White sturgeon are extremely fecund; a single female can spawn 32,000 - 1,650,000 eggs.

Monitoring activity
Progress will be reported in annual reports, oral presentations, and in peer-reviewed journal articles.

Section 3. Budget

Data shown are the total of expense and capital obligations by fiscal year. Obligations for any given year may not equal actual expenditures or accruals within the year, due to carryover, pre-funding, capitalization and difference between operating year and BPA fiscal year.

Historic costsFY 1996 budget data*Current and future funding needs
(none) New project - no FY96 data available 1997: 435,000
1998: 450,000
1999: 560,000
2000: 745,000
2001: 600,000

* For most projects, Authorized is the amount recommended by CBFWA and the Council. Planned is amount currently allocated. Contracted is the amount obligated to date of printout.

Funding recommendations

CBFWA funding review group   Resident Fish

Recommendation    No recommendation