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
Life History of Fall Chin in Col River Basin

BPA project number   9102900

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

Sponsor type   WA-Federal Agency

Proposal contact person or principal investigator
 NameDennis Rondorf
 Mailing addressColumbia River Research Laboratory
5501A Cook-Underwood Rd. Cook, WA 98605
 Phone509/538-2299

BPA technical contact   Deborah Docherty, EWN 503/230-4458

Biological opinion ID   NMFS BO RPA 13f

NWPPC Program number   5.4B, 6.1C, 7.3A

Short description
Fall chinook salmon are currently listed as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act. This study was initiated to identify the physical and biological factors influencing spawning, rearing, seaward migration, and survival of fall chinook salmon. This study also examines post-release attributes of hatchery fall chinook salmon released into the Snake River to evaluate supplementation strategies. Monitoring and evaluation of supplementation releases of Lyons Ferry yearlings and subyearlings made at Pittsburg Landing and future Snake River acclimation facilities is included in this work. The monitoring and evaluation will include the monitoring of adult returns to Snake River spawning grounds. Juvenile Snake River fall chinook salmon have evolved to migrate to the ocean as subyearling migrants. We believe that this life history strategy should be studied as one alternative approach for supplementation to increase the number of Snake River fall chinook salmon.

Project start year   1990    End year   2000

Start of operation and/or maintenance   

Project development phase   Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects
This project will provide estimates of reach and project survival probabilities of juvenile salmonids through Snake River dams. Efforts focus on survival through reservoirs and dams, whereas our project focuses on survival in nearshore rearing habitats and through the free-flowing reach of the Snake River.

BPA Project 94-034 “Assessing summer/fall chinook restoration in the Snake River basin.” Nez Perce Tribe
This project examines spawning, incubation, growth, emigration, and survival of summer/fall chinook salmon in the Clearwater River and compliments our project in the Snake River.

Project history
The project, which is a cooperative effort between the National Biological Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, started using BPA funding August 1, 1991. Most activities related to the first phase of the project will end in 1996, and the second phase emphasizing supplementation evaluation and survival will start in 1997. The supplementation portion of the study was begun in 1995 to obtain preliminary information on the survival of hatchery subyearling fall chinook released in the free-flowing Snake River through lower Snake River dams.

Biological results achieved
This research project has provided much of the contemporary knowledge of Snake River fall chinook salmon. The results of this project have been used in the decision making process to provide summer flows for subyearling chinook salmon in the lower Snake River. Since 1991, this project has produced accurate redd surveys, an estimate of spawning habitat carrying capacity for the Snake River Salmon Recovery Plan, a redd census technique in accord with the recovery plan to measure adult escapement to the spawning grounds, and a model to show the effects of Hells Canyon Complex flows on fall chinook salmon spawning habitat. This information has been used to provide minimum flows during adult spawning and the winter and spring egg incubation and emergence periods in the Hells Canyon Reach. In addition, unprecedented genetic data has been collected on natural Snake River fall chinook salmon confirming the uniqueness of this stock. Documentation of the early life history, physiology, and habitat requirements of fall chinook salmon and models to relate juvenile emigration rate to water temperature and flow have been produced as well. Our laboratory data suggest a link between water velocity and migratory behavior. This project has shown that factors such as fish size and water temperature are important to subyearling chinook emigration rate and survival. Preliminary survival estimates from 1995 show that survival decreased as fish were released later in the season at three sites. Survival ranged from 0.58-0.68 in fish released in the free-flowing Snake River and from 0.38-0.49 for fish released near the head of Lower Granite Reservoir. Emigration rate from the Hells Canyon Reach to Lower Granite Dam is about 2 km/d (range = 0.6 to 9.3 km/d) and it generally takes subyearling migrants anywhere from 4 to 116 days to reach the dam. This project’s radio telemetry work has shown that subyearling chinook salmon tagged at Lower Granite Dam migrate fairly rapidly to the forebay of Little Goose Dam and then can spend considerable time there before passing the dam.

Annual reports and technical papers
The project has produced three annual reports to BPA and a fourth is in preparation. Quarterly reports have been provided to BPA. The project releases weekly reports to interested parties during the spring emergence and downstream migration of fall chinook salmon and during fall spawning in the Snake River. Peer review journal articles have been prepared or are in preparation.

Papers:
Nelson, W.R., L.K. Freidenburg, and D.W. Rondorf. Accepted. Swimming behavior and performance of emigrating subyearling chinook salmon. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society.

Rondorf, D.W., and W.H. Miller, editors. 1993. Identification of the spawning, rearing, and migratory requirements of fall chinook salmon in the Columbia River basin. 1991 Annual Report to Bonneville Power Administration, Contract DE-AI79-91BP21708, Portland, Oregon.

Rondorf, D.W., and W.H. Miller, editors. 1994. Identification of the spawning, rearing, and migratory requirements of fall chinook salmon in the Columbia River basin. 1992 Annual Report to Bonneville Power Administration, Contract DE-AI79-91BP21708, Portland, Oregon.

Rondorf, D.W., and K.F. Tiffan, editors. 1994. Identification of the spawning, rearing, and migratory requirements of fall chinook salmon in the Columbia River basin. 1993 Annual Report to Bonneville Power Administration, Contract DE-AI79-91BP21708, Portland, Oregon.

Rondorf, D.W., and K.F. Tiffan, editors. In preparation. Identification of the spawning, rearing, and migratory requirements of fall chinook salmon in the Columbia River basin. 1993 Annual Report to Bonneville Power Administration, Contract DE-AI79-91BP21708, Portland, Oregon.

Connor, W.P., H. Burge, and R. Bugert. 1992. Migration timing of natural and hatchery fall chinook salmon in the Snake River Basin. Pages 46-56 in Passage and survival of juvenile chinook salmon migrating from the Snake River Basin. Proceedings of a technical workshop. Prepared by the Idaho Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, Idaho Water Resources Institute, University of Idaho Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society.

Connor, W.P. and several co-authors. In preparation. Stock and race identification of subyearling chinook salmon in the Snake River. A manuscript to be submitted to the North American Journal of Fisheries Management in 1996.

Connor, W.P. and several co-authors. In preparation. Snake River fall chinook salmon early life history: past and present. A manuscript to be submitted to the North American Journal of Fisheries Management in 1996.

Connor, W.P. and several co-authors. In preparation. Fall chinook salmon spawning habitat availability in the Snake River. A manuscript to be submitted to the North American Journal of Fisheries Management in 1996.

Garcia, A.P. and several co-authors. In preparation. Fall chinook salmon spawning ground surveys in the Snake River. A manuscript to be submitted to the North American Journal of Fisheries Management in 1996.

Tiffan, K.F. and several co-authors. In preparation. Morphological differences between emigrating juvenile spring and fall chinook salmon in the Snake River. A manuscript to be submitted to the Transactions of the American Fisheries Society in 1996.

Tiffan, K.F. and several co-authors. In preparation. Marking subyearling chinook salmon to estimate adult contribution in the Columbia River. A manuscript to be submitted to the North American Journal of Fisheries Management in 1996.

Presentations:

Connor, W.P. 1991. Consequences of spawning habitat selection by summer and fall chinook salmon on restoration efforts in the Clearwater River of Idaho. A presentation to the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting, Bozeman, Montana.

Connor, W.P. 1992. Migration timing of natural and hatchery fall chinook salmon in the Snake River Basin. A presentation to the Idaho Chapter of the American Fisheries Society Passage and Survival workshop, Moscow, Idaho.

Connor, W.P. 1993. Application of PIT tags to study Snake River fall chinook salmon early life history. A presentation to participants of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission’s 1993 PIT-tag workshop, Portland, Oregon.

Connor, W.P. 1994. Estimating fall chinook salmon spawning habitat availability and seeding level in the lower Clearwater River, Idaho. A presentation to the Idaho Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, McCall, Idaho.

Connor, W.P. 1995. Stock and race identification of subyearling chinook salmon in the Snake River. A presentation to the Idaho Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, Boise, Idaho.

Connor, W.P. 1996. Philosophy and PIT tags; do the ends justify the means? A presentation to participants of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission’s 1996 PIT-tag workshop, Portland, Oregon.

Connor, W.P. Use of separation by code for fall chinook salmon research in 1995. A presentation to participants of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission’s 1996 PIT-tag workshop, Portland, Oregon.

Tiffan, K.F. 1995. Osmoregulatory and ATPase development in subyearling fall chinook salmon. A presentation to the 18th Annual Smolt Workshop, Corvalis, Oregon.

Management implications
The Northwest Power Planning Council has identified a variety of programs to address the needs of fish and wildlife within the Columbia River basin. This study falls under Program 7.5B.3 “Continue to fund basic life history studies for Snake River fall chinook salmon”, which should, “identify the range, limiting factors, effects of flow, temperature, spawning, and rearing habitat, and migratory behavior.” However, various aspects of this study also fall under other Programs and have produced information useful in management decisions. We have produced current information on juvenile fall chinook emigration timing and rates in the Snake River, which has been used by fishery managers in making flow decisions under Program 5.4B Summer Migrants, which “provides flow for juvenile fall chinook salmon”, and has been relied heavily upon in preparation of recovery planning documents. Our work on spawning, incubation, and rearing requirements for naturally produced Snake River fall chinook salmon has been used to shape flows from Hells Canyon Complex for these life stages under Program 6.1C.2,3 “Provide minimum flows for spawning, incubation, and rearing in Hells Canyon Reach.”

The newest phase of this project focuses on monitoring and evaluation of supplementation as a recovery strategy. We started the work as per the Snake River Salmon Recovery Team’s final recommendations to the National Marine Fisheries Service, the proposed recovery plan by the NMFS, and NPPC Program measure 7.5B.3. Our new work focuses on natural and hatchery fall chinook salmon juveniles and adult returns to the spawning grounds. A major emphasis will be the comparison of performance and interactions between hatchery and wild fish. Any management decisions regarding the use of supplementation to recover wild Snake River fall chinook salmon must consider the positive and negative impacts that hatchery fish may have on the wild stock. This study will not only produce survival estimates, but will examine the underlying mechanisms behind survival so that decisions can be based on an understanding of the processes behind survival. Relevant information that can be used in decision making processes will include the influence of fish age, size, release site, release timing, and acclimation on yearling and subyearling chinook salmon survival through the lower Snake River. The survival advantage from growth can be framed against risk from predation and can be used to model survival potential under different growth/predation scenarios. Monitoring and evaluation of adult returns above Lower Granite Dam will also be conducted to maintain redd counts for natural fall chinook spawning and establish a database for hatchery adult returns to the spawning grounds. By evaluating supplementation in light of survival, underlying mechanisms, and adult returns, information will be produced that managers can use to improve survival and therefore increase the number of Snake River fall chinook salmon.

Currently, information from this project has been used in documents such as the Draft Snake River Salmon Recovery Plan Recommendations. In addition, information has been used by the BPA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Fish Passage Center, the Fish Operations Executive Committee, Technical Management Team, and numerous others.

Specific measureable objectives
This study will both directly and indirectly increase the number of fall chinook salmon in the Snake River basin. Dependent upon availability, we will release a total of 48,000 juvenile hatchery fall chinook salmon in the Hells Canyon Reach of the Snake River during each year of the study. This direct increase in the number of juveniles out planted should produce an increase in the number of returning adults. If these adults are allowed to spawn naturally, then an increase in the natural population of fall chinook salmon should be realized. Indirect increases in the number of naturally produced fish will come through knowledge gained from this study which fishery managers can use to optimize survival and therefore increase the number of Snake River fall chinook salmon. The study objectives are as follows:

1) Determine the effects of early life history on natural fall chinook salmon survival to the tail race of Lower Granite Dam.
2) Investigate the occurrence of autumn subyearling and spring yearling emigration in Snake River fall chinook salmon populations.
3) Evaluate post-release attributes and survival of four hatchery rearing treatments of Lyons Ferry fall chinook salmon including acclimated yearlings, non-acclimated yearlings, non-acclimated subyearling parr, and non-acclimated subyearling smolts.
4) Define the effects of post-release attributes and the environmental conditions during rearing and emigration on survival estimates for each hatchery treatment.
5) Use a bioenergetics approach to assess potential growth advantage and predation risk for hatchery treatments and natural fall chinook salmon.
6) Monitor adult returns of natural and hatchery fall chinook salmon to the Snake River spawning grounds.

Testable hypothesis
1) The rearing history of natural and hatchery fall chinook salmon does not affect survival.
2) Natural and hatchery fall chinook salmon survival is not dependent on the environmental conditions during rearing and emigration.
3) Growth and predation risk in nearshore rearing areas does not affect natural and hatchery fall chinook salmon survival.
4) Juvenile fall chinook salmon survival is not related to adult returns to the spawning grounds.
5) Supplementation in the Snake River above Lower Granite Dam with Lyons Ferry fall chinook salmon will not affect adult returns to the spawning grounds.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
It is imperative that hatchery yearling and subyearling fall chinook salmon are provided for release in the free-flowing Snake River to estimate survival. Use of hatchery subyearlings will allow direct comparison to survival of the wild population, which also emigrate as subyearlings. This research will benefit wild fall chinook salmon in the Snake River and improve supplementation only if it is conducted in accordance with the natural life history cycle.

Methods
Two size groups of non-acclimated hatchery subyearling fish (75 mm and 95 mm) will be released at two sites in Hells Canyon, one below the Salmon River and the other above it. There will be four replicate releases of these groups each year. One group of yearlings will be released one day prior to release of acclimated yearlings. All fish will be PIT tagged before release. We propose to PIT tag sufficient numbers of naturally produced fall chinook salmon in the Snake River to allow survival estimation. Fish will be recaptured in beach seines and at lower Snake River dams and a recapture database compiled. Biological (fish health, physiology, growth, predation), behavioral (travel time, dispersal, nearshore rearing), and environmental (flow, temperature) information will be collected for relation to survival. Survival will be estimated using the Survival Under Proportional Hazards (SURPH) model for recaptured PIT-tagged salmon. Multifactor Analysis of Variance will be used to test for differences in survival and the relation between survival and covariates such as flow and temperature. Multiple regression analysis will be used to identify biological, behavioral, and environmental attributes that affect survival of subyearling fall chinook salmon. Approximately 28,000 hatchery subyearling and 20,000 yearling fall chinook salmon from Lyons Ferry will be needed each year for this project. The contribution of natural and hatchery fall chinook salmon returning to spawning grounds will be monitored through redd counts, radio tracking, and carcass surveys.

Brief schedule of activities
Obtain, PIT tag, and release sufficient numbers of hatchery and wild subyearling fall chinook salmon in the free-flowing Snake River in from April to July in 1997. Compile a recapture database of PIT-tagged fish detected at Snake River dams and McNary Dam. Spawning ground surveys will be done from October to December in 1997. These activities will be carried out for three years (1998-2000), after which, a complete analysis of survival data and modeling will be carried out.

Biological need
Fall chinook salmon are currently endangered in the Snake River. This study was initiated to provide information to aid recovery efforts. Supplementing the natural population with hatchery fish is one strategy currently proposed to facilitate recovery of this stock. The use of supplementation is one means of increasing the number of fall chinook salmon, but will not necessarily equate with an increase in survival. It is therefore imperative to identify which variables and mechanisms influence survival to incorporate them into tools that fishery managers can use. One of the major weaknesses of past supplementation projects has been the lack of information compiled on the interactions between hatchery and natural fish (Winton and Hilborn 1994). Since hatchery fish are being used to supplement the natural population, it will be necessary to determine if competition for food and habitat exists, if the health of hatchery fish poses any risk to wild fish, if hatchery and wild fish exhibit differential growth, and if differential predation exists. Presently, hatchery fish are in short supply so determining the optimal size at release, release site, release time, and release pattern will allow for the development of the most appropriate supplementation strategy for fall chinook salmon. This study, will increase our understanding of fall chinook salmon in the Snake River and will result in more effective use of hatchery fish in recovery efforts.

Snake River fall chinook salmon are unique in that they primarily spawn and rear in the mainstem Snake River. This is a significant because the Snake River is a regulated system which can be operated to potentially benefit fall chinook salmon. Both spawning and summer emigration flows are currently provided to increase survival. The need to evaluate survival of both hatchery and wild fall chinook salmon in light of hydropower system operations is critical. This study is necessary to efficiently manage both fish and the hydropower system.

Critical uncertainties
This study will directly increase the production of Snake River fall chinook salmon by adding fish to the system. Indirect increases can be realized, if by identifying and understanding mechanisms influencing survival, we can increase survival of both hatchery and naturally produced fish through appropriate management activities. Many factors can potentially influence the survival of both hatchery and naturally produced fall chinook salmon from rearing areas in the free-flowing Snake River through lower mainstem dams. Currently, little is known about how factors such as predation, growth, habitat, migration timing, etc., affect survival. This study attempts to examine survival in light of causal mechanisms in an effort to better understand and more accurately model survival. Understanding mechanisms will allow for a more comprehensive evaluation of supplementation using subyearling fall chinook salmon.

Summary of expected outcome
This study is designed to provide information on the factors that limit survival of both wild and hatchery Snake River fall chinook salmon. Gaining an understanding of the relation between and among fall chinook salmon survival, fish health, post-release behavior, and environmental variability can be used to develop models that predict survival under different supplementation strategies. The interactions between hatchery and wild fish and whether supplementation produces the desired effect of increasing the natural population will be critical information produced by this study.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
Collection of information on wild subyearling fall chinook salmon and the incidental handling of other listed species to achieve project objectives is dependent upon obtaining necessary ESA permits. This project is also dependent on the availability of subyearling fall chinook salmon at Lyons Ferry each year for release in the free-flowing Snake River. This project is a cooperative effort between the National Biological Service, U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Washington Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, and Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho. Cooperation was sought to produce a coordinated effort with other agencies to produce the necessary information while keeping costs down and eliminating duplicative activities.

Risks
We believe this study will not jeopardize Snake River fall chinook salmon and will pose minimal risk to the public welfare and governmental and tribal interests.

Monitoring activity
This is a research project that includes monitoring the status of fall chinook salmon through data collection (post-release behavior, outmigration timing, survival estimation, etc.). There are no biological impacts from this study that need monitoring. A fall chinook coordination meeting of all interested parties takes place twice a year to discuss current research, results, and proposed work. Field work is conducted jointly with others such as Idaho Power Company, Washington Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine fisheries Service, Nez Perce Tribe, etc. Regular meetings are conducted where all researchers present current status reports of their work and discuss opportunities for further coordination. COTR tracks progress through regular communication and reports.

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
1991: 1,937,120
1992: 934,211
1993: 915,452
1994: 1,053,426
Obligation: 0
Authorized: 1,053,000
Planned: 1,053,000
1997: 1,000,000
1998: 900,000
1999: 900,000
2000: 900,000

* 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   System Policy

Recommendation    Tier 1 - fund

Recommended funding level   $1,000,000

BPA 1997 authorized budget (approved start-of-year budget)   $1,000,000