FY 2007 Solicitation Homepage

Project Proposal Request for FY 2007 - FY 2009 Funding

Proposal 199801400: Ocean Survival Of Salmonids

Download this document in MS Word format
Open this document in PDF format

Table of Contents
Part 1. Administration and Budgeting
Section 1: General Administrative
Section 2: Project Location
Section 3: Project Species
Section 4: Past Accomplishments
Section 5: Relationship to Other Projects
Section 6: Biological Objectives
Section 7: Work Elements
Section 8: Budget
Section 9: Project Future
Section 10: Documents
Part 2. Reviews
Part 1 of 2. Administration and Budgeting
Section 1: General Administrative Information
Process Information:
Date Proposal Submitted & Finalized Status Form Generator
January 9, 2006 Finalized Ed Casillas

Proposal Type: Ongoing
Proposal Number: 199801400
Proposal Name: Ocean Survival Of Salmonids
BPA Project Manager: Jan Brady
Agency, Institution or Organization: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Short Description: Assess the role of the Columbia River plume and California Current on growth and survival of juvenile salmon from the Columbia River basin. Develop ocean condition indicators that can be used to forecast salmon returns and assess climate change impact.
Information Transfer: Used for developing indicators of ocean conditions that affect juvenile salmon growth and survival that lead to forecasts for adult returns. Benefits evaluation of in-river restoration and mitigation activities. Information trasferred through cruise reports, presentations at scientific and public meetings, and through peer-reviewed journal articles.
 
Project Proposal Contacts
Contact Organization Address Phone/Email Roles Notes
Form Submitter
Ed Casillas NOAA Fisheries 2725 Montlake Blvd E
Seattle, WA 98112
Ph: 206.860.3313
Fax: ..
Email: edmundo.casillas@noaa.gov
Form Submitter
All Assigned Contacts
Ed Casillas NOAA Fisheries 2725 Montlake Blvd E
Seattle, WA 98112
Ph: 206.860.3313
Fax: ..
Email: edmundo.casillas@noaa.gov
Form Submitter

Section 2: Project Location
Sponsor Province: Mainstem/Systemwide ARG Province: No Change
Sponsor Subbasin: Systemwide ARG Subbasin: No Change
Location(s) at which the action will be implemented
Latitude Longitude Waterbody Location Description County/State Subbasin Primary?
Pacific Ocean Coastal ocean shelf from appoximately Newport, OR to La Push, WA OR/WA, Systemwide No

Section 3: Focal Species
Focal Species:
Primary Secondary Additional Species
All Anadromous Salmonids

Section 4: Past Accomplishments
Past Accomplishments for Each Fiscal Year of This Project
Fiscal Year Accomplishments
2005 New hydrologic code developed. Plume features directly (larger) related to chinook and steelhead returns to the CR. Unusal ocean conditions (no upwelling) related to few juvenile salmon in mesoscale surveys. Preditions for low salmon returns made.
2004 Mesoscale survey maintained. Ocean condition indices that relate to salmon survival begin to be developed, includes physical conditions of the ocean habitat, prey resource availability, predator population abundance, and juvenile chinook and coho growth.
2003 Continued mesoscale survey. Salmon distribution related to plume size. Ecosystem metrics of food resource availability and predator population size are relating to distribution and growth of salmon in plume and Ca Current.
2002 Maintained mesoscale survey. Database access now controlled but available to all PI's. CR front studies concentrate prey resources used by salmon, salmon primarily in plume and front habitat. Hydrologic model simulations of plume available for 1998-2001.
2001 Maintained mesoscale survey as baseline asssessment of juvenile salmon growth, condition, and distribution in the first summer at sea. Process studies reveal salmon in the top 10 meters of the plume. Hake revealed to be a salmon predator. Drought year.
2000 Continued baseline assessment of juvenile salmon distribution and assessment of the plume and California Current ecosystem as a feature that affects salmon. Incorporated piscine predator cruises into the program. Plume hydrologic model now operational.
1999 Added a May cruise in an around the Columbia River plume, continued baseline information on juvenile salmon growth and distribution in Pacific Northwest marine waters fro June and September. Developed ELCIRC code for hydrologic model.
1998 Began sampling juvenile salmon in plume and California Current in June and September Establish transect lines from south of Newport, OR to La Push, WA. Provided cruise reports. Began development of a CR plume hydologic model. AN el Nino year.

Section 5: Relationships to Other Projects
Other Current Projects Related to this Project (any funding source)
Funding Source Related ID Related Project Title Relationship
Other: Corps of Engineers [no entry] Evaluation of the Relationship among time of ocean entry, physical and biological characteristics of the estuary and plume environment, and adult return rates Information on the smolt to adult return rates are being used to identify the seasonal/annuall ocean/estuarine conditions where SAR's are highest. Data are being shared between these projects
Other: National Science Foundation [no entry] Riverine Influences on Shelf Ecosystems (RISE) RISE will determine the extent to which the regional productivity differences off Washington versus Oregon are a result of the presence of the Columbia River plume.
Other: NOAA [no entry] A time series of measurements of ocean conditions off Newport, Oregon The project produces a detailed time series of zooplankton species and abundance. It also provides information on ocean temperatures, salinities, chlorophylls, etc. These data can be compared with data from other studies.
BPA 200300900 Canada-Usa Shelf Sal Surv Stdy Samples and information on juvenile salmon distribution in coastal marine waters off Oregon, Washington, and Canada are exchanged and shared.

Section 6: Biological Objectives
Biological Objectives of this Proposed Project
Biological Objective Full Description Associated Subbasin Plan Strategy Page Nos
Determine marine growth and survival of salmonids Determine the distribution, growth and condition of juvenile Columbia River Chinook and coho salmon in the plume and ocean environments along with associated physical and biological features, and effects on salmon survival. None Identify the effects of ocean conditions on anadromous fish and use this information to evaluate and adjust inland actions. Systemwide strategy (1 of 9) of the NW Council Fish and WIldlife Program -2000. [Pg no blank]
Determine predator/prey relations Determine the importance of predators and food supply on survival of juvenile Columbia River Chinook and coho salmon as the fish migrate through the Columbia River estuary and plume. None Identify the effects of ocean conditions on anadromous fish and use this information to evaluate and adjust inland actions. Systemwide strategy (1 of 9) of the NW Council Fish and Wildlife PRogram - 2000. [Pg no blank]
Synthesize the ocean ecology of juvenile salmonids Synthesize the early ocean ecology of juvenile Columbia River Chinook and coho salmon and produce ecological indices that forecast salmonid survival, through the use of simulation models and statistical analyses of climate, ocean and biological time series data that result in improved river and salmon management advice. None Distinguish ocean effects from other effects. Systemwide strategy outlined in the NW Council Fish and Wildlife Program - 2000. [Pg no blank]

Section 7: Work Elements
Work Elements and Associated Biological Objectives
Work Element Name Work Element Title Description Start Date End Date Estimated Budget
Manage and Administer Projects BPA admin requirements Manage project. Verify that collection permits are obtained, and all reported. Verify that cruise and status reports are completed 1/1/2007 12/31/2009 $13,275
Biological Objectives Metrics
Determine marine growth and survival of salmonids
Determine predator/prey relations
Synthesize the ocean ecology of juvenile salmonids
No Metrics for this Work Element

Analyze/Interpret Data Analyse collected samples and conduct data analysis Analyze laboratory samples, biological and physical data, and enter all data into a database. Perform data analysis. 2/1/2007 12/31/2009 $2,629,012
Biological Objectives Metrics
Determine marine growth and survival of salmonids
Determine predator/prey relations
Primary R, M, and E Type: Produce Annual Report
Primary R, M, and E Type: Produce Peer Reviewed Publications

Collect/Generate/Validate Field and Lab Data Conduct Process Studies Conduct biological process studies in the Columbia River Plume, estuary, and ocean. Develop ecological model of salmon survival in the Columbia River plume/ocean. 1/1/2007 12/31/2009 $2,086,783
Biological Objectives Metrics
Determine predator/prey relations
Synthesize the ocean ecology of juvenile salmonids
Primary R, M, and E Type: Conduct study on salmonid food resources
Primary R, M, and E Type: Collect juvenile salmonids in the lower CR estuary
Primary R, M, and E Type: Develop ecological model
Focal Area: Develop indices of salmonid marine survival

Collect/Generate/Validate Field and Lab Data Nektonic Species Sampling - Plume and Coastal OR and WA Collect fishes, invertebrates, and associated biological and physical oceanographic information 2/1/2007 11/30/2009 $3,005,236
Biological Objectives Metrics
Determine marine growth and survival of salmonids
Determine predator/prey relations
Focal Area: Conduct research cruises
Focal Area: Produce Cruise Reports


Section 8: Budget

Itemized Estimated Budget
Item Note FY 2007 Cost FY 2008 Cost FY 2009 Cost
Personnel NOAA Fisheries personnel $276,796 $285,100 $293,657
Fringe Benefits [blank] $70,436 $75,551 $77,818
Supplies [blank] $86,167 $88,752 $91,414
Travel [blank] $35,000 $36,050 $37,132
Capital Equipment [blank] $72,000 $74,160 $76,385
Overhead [blank] $183,433 $189,591 $195,279
Other Contracts and grants $1,776,047 $1,829,329 $1,884,209
Totals $2,499,879 $2,578,533 $2,655,894

Total Estimated FY 2007-2009 Budgets
Total Itemized Budget$7,734,306
Total Work Element budget$7,734,306

Cost sharing
Funding Source or Organization Item or Service Provided FY 2007 Est Value ($) FY 2008 Est Value ($) FY 2009 Est Value ($) Cash or in-kind? Status
NOAA Fisheries Personnel $433,197 $446,193 $459,579 In-Kind Confirmed
Totals $433,197 $446,193 $459,579

Section 9: Project Future
Project Future Costs and/or Termination
FY 2010 Est Budget FY 2011 Est Budget Comments
$1,400,000 $1,400,000 The project will begin to move to a monitoring phase to provide forecasts of salmon survival in the ocean
Future Operations & Maintenance Costs
Effort includes costs for vessel platforms to obtain measurments in the ocean. If NOAA vessel time can be committed to the project, costs can be reduced by approximately 500k
 
Termination Date Comments
none We anticipate the need to provide to the Council and BPA forecast estimates of salmon returns based on ocean conditions that outmigrating juvenile salmon encounter as they leave Columbia River basin and enter the ocean envrionment for the foreseeable future. The forecast will depend on the ocean indices being developed as indicators of juvenile salmon success and eventual returns back to spawn in the CR basin. Although some indices can be obtained remotely, others will require on the water measurements which will necessitate continued monitoring and measurment.
 
Final Deliverables
Forecast for salmon returns for each outmagrating salmon yearclass, a yearly summary document outlining ocean conditions that are linked to salmon success.

Section 10: Narrative
Document Type Size Date

Part 2 of 2. Reviews of Proposal
Administrative Review Group (ARG) Results
Account Type:
Expense
No changes were made to this proposal


NPCC Final Funding Recommendations (October 23, 2006) [Full NPCC Council Recs]

FY 2007 Budget
$2,170,600
FY 2008 Budget
$2,170,600
FY 2009 Budget
$2,170,600
Total NPCC Rec
$6,511,800
Budget Type:Expense
Budget Category:Basinwide
Recommendation:Fund
Comments:


NPCC Draft Funding Recommendations (September 15, 2006) [Full NPCC Council Recs]

FY 2007 Budget
$2,170,600
FY 2008 Budget
$2,170,600
FY 2009 Budget
$2,170,600
Total NPCC Rec
$6,511,800
FY 2007 MSRT Rec
$2,170,600
FY 2008 MSRT Rec
$2,170,600
FY 2009 MSRT Rec
$2,170,600
Total MSRT Rec
$6,511,800
Budget Category:Basinwide
Comments:

Local or MSRT Comments: This project best addresses the fundamental management questions necessary to improve management and operation of the FCRPS. Due to the limited funding environment, the MSRT recommends sequencing the work within this project to meet the FY 2006 funding level for the next three years. Funding in addition to the ongoing funding level was provided for the addition of two new tasks: 1) Estuary survival study and 2) a growth model.


Independent Scientific Review Panel Final Review (August 31, 2006) [Download full document]

Recommendation: Fundable (Qualified)
NPCC Comments: This is an innovative project that has yielded new and critically needed information on how conditions in the ocean and plume affect salmon survival. A unique aspect of this work is the ecosystem approach that is taken to understand salmon survival. This approach is highly consistent with science principles in the Fish and Wildlife Program.

Proposals for the project have expanded to encompass new objectives well beyond the scope of those previously reviewed by the ISRP ("research in the Columbia River plume to investigate juvenile salmon growth and survival, and modeling studies to investigate management of Columbia River flows to improve habitat opportunity in the plume").

Therefore, the ISRP qualifies this “fundable” recommendation with a number of questions to be considered (although the ISRP is not requesting a response):

Could the proponents provide a strategic overview that prioritizes their proposed objectives, tasks, and subtasks, including specific information for each task on the PIs and staff, FTEs committed to that task, critical assumptions, experimental design, justification for degrees of freedom (number of years)/statistical significance, specific timelines, and costs supported by BPA? Could proponents provide an effectiveness analysis of the various results sooner than 2009, as well as a specific plan for involvement of hydro managers?

Technical and Scientific Background: The proponents have provided an excellent summary of the technical and scientific background, and the logical need to address the problem to benefit salmon is clearly defined.

Rationale and Significance to Subbasin Plans and Regional Programs: The proposal addresses objectives in the 2000 Fish and Wildlife Program Plan.

Could the proponents relate the proposal to the 2005 research plan and provide some explicit descriptions of how the research will help with Biological Opinions? The sponsors do not indicate whether the proposed work is called for in the Estuary Subbasin Plan.

Relationships to other project: There is evidence in this proposal of good integration within the large group of proponents (n=26 scientists). The modeling work is integrated with only one of the proposed or ongoing estuary projects (20030100). The proponents also relate their research to US Army Corps of Engineers and National Science Foundation funded projects. Some of the proposed work seems to be dependent upon the continuation of projects funded primarily by these other sources, which could be a problem. Will Peterson's Newport time series be funded by this proposal or from some other source? Only passing reference is made to other related and similar projects such as “Acoustic Tracking for Survival” (200311400) and the "inner estuary" (20030100) researchers. Given that the proposed ocean array studies are focused on the plume area, could the proponents enable coordination between these two projects?

At present, one of the PIs plans to participate in the 2006-2009 research vessel cruises of project #200300900 (Canada-USA Shelf Salmon Survival Study). There is duplication between these two projects on some of the proposed research, e.g., bioenergetics modeling. The proponents also plan to work closely with project #200723600 ("Strategic Adaptation of the Federal Columbia River Power System to Climate Variability and Change"), that is, use remote sensing products and habitat metrics. An integrated approach is required to move the products of research in all key habitats to management agencies. Can proponents demonstrate links to specific BPA-funded restoration or salmon management projects that might be potential users of their proposed ecological indicator/run forecast products?

Project history: This innovative project has contributed significantly to understanding how plume and near shore ocean conditions influence salmon survival. Excellent background and history material are provided. The proponents have demonstrated good monitoring for results, a strong publication record, and all data are archived and/or made available for others to use.

Objectives: A more strategic approach is required to select the most important topics to improve understanding of ocean survival. Can the proponents provide a discussion of what they see as the most important subprojects?

The desired outcome of this project (last 2 paragraphs, section F, p. 30) is that products (ecological indicators; forecasts of the effect of climate and ocean conditions on salmon survival) provided each year by the proponents will help BPA managers evaluate the success or failure of various mitigation programs. For example, if return rates of adult salmon from a particular mitigation program are lower than expected, then changes in ocean conditions "would provide a least one reason why." At the end of the next funding cycle (2007-2009), the proponents promise to provide and "in-depth analysis of the efficacy" of their monitoring and to design a smaller-scale, longer-term, cost-effective monitoring program that will provide these products for as long as managers find them useful. Could the proponents conduct this "in-depth" analysis each year? If "in-depth" analysis is postponed until the end of the next funding cycle, the proponents might discover that they have insufficient samples sizes, variables, etc., to produce the desired outcome (run forecasting products). Key to this is whether or not they have sufficient stock-specific data on Columbia River Chinook and coho salmon ESUs.

Tasks (work elements): The comprehensive ecosystem/mechanistic approach is the major strength of this proposal. Most of the scientific methods are based on sound scientific principles. Cutting edge techniques will be used to accomplish many of the objectives. On the other hand, methods for specific tasks (work elements) are often not of sufficient detail to evaluate by the narrative alone. The experimental design is very complex with multiple variables. Throughout the proposal, there is seldom if any explanation of experimental or field sampling design, how sample sizes were determined, or whether sample sizes are sufficient for the proposed statistical tests. Critical assumptions or consideration of alternative methods for specific tasks are usually not presented or discussed. There is some coordination with other projects conducting similar research. However, are the times and areas of proposed surveys complementary or redundant with other projects? The proponents are counting on models to do the integration of results; however, plans for verifying the models are not specified. Mathematical algorithms for computer models are seldom if ever described in sufficient detail to permit evaluation by reviewers from the narrative alone. The benefits of the proposed computer simulation modeling (other than to generate new hypotheses) is questionable given the lack of sufficient time series of field data from objective 1 to validate results. Methods for bringing results to managers are not well described.

Questions and comments by the reviewers on specific tasks are as follows:

Task 1.1a: The proponents imply that individual fish can be identified to stock of origin or ESU of origin. Can the proponents provide details on genetic baselines and data analysis methods?

Task 1.1b: Ocean growth and bioenergetic tasks, as well as most other tasks in this proposal, would be improved if they were genetic stock or ESU specific. Differences in ocean growth and bioenergetics between hatchery and wild fish might be significant, e.g., hatchery fish might start their ocean life with a larger reserve of lipids than wild fish, but did the proponents consider these factors?

Task 1.1c: Can the proponents describe potential problems with otolith techniques? It is not clear if catch location vs. residence time in the Columbia River plume can be resolved by this technique. Sulfur is mentioned as an isotope to be measured. Is this in addition to carbon and nitrogen? It should be.

Task 1.2a: How useful are the avian predator data without direct feeding studies?

Task 1.2b: Pathogen studies would be more useful if they were stock or ESU specific. How were sample sizes established?

Task 1.2C: Would the results be more useful if they were stock-specific?

Task 2.1a: Chinook smolts and fry likely continue to trickle out of the estuary into the autumn as per six life history types described so far. The planned sampling scheme might miss them. Will salmon in the catch be identified to stock or ESU? Will results from purse seine sampling be comparable to trawl sampling used for other tasks? Can the proponents provide detailed descriptions of sampling gear/methods, fishing stations, statistical or analytical procedures?

Task 2.1c: Fine scale studies of salmon and prey in relation to the plume are to be completed in one year (2007); does this assume that data on interannual variation at this fine scale are not necessary? This task is contingent on availability of a large NOAA vessel, as well as analyses performed as a part of studies funded by other grants (NSF, etc.). Can the proponents provide information on the experimental design, sample size/statistical power, etc., to evaluate whether the results would be statistically valid?

Task 2.1d: Can the proponents provide information on permits, methods, analytical details, etc.?

Task 3.1: This seems to be a very complex series of models - as per comments above, have they been chosen strategically?

Task 3.1a: This physical circulation model has already been developed. Can the proponents provide information as to algorithms used, how the model was validated, or how it is integrated with other models?

Task 3.1b: Can the proponents provide details on how the existing model of plankton and nutrient dynamics will be adapted for use in the Columbia River estuary and plume and coupled with the physical circulation model? The proposed computer simulations will be used to fill data gaps, but it is not clear how these will be validated.

Task 3.1c: Can the models be developed so they are stock/ESU specific and related to timing of ocean entry? The SBMs (spatially explicit) would focus on horizontal and vertical variation in salmon prey densities with respect to oceanographic features in and near the Columbia R. plume. Temporal variation is likely to be important but the proposed seasonal scale is likely too broad to capture the critical ocean entry period. The GOA/GLOBEC bioenergetic studies (Beauchamp, UW) mentioned focus on Prince William Sound pink salmon, which have a very different ocean life history than Columbia River coho and Chinook salmon. How would close coordination with this project be beneficial?

Task 3.1d: IBM models of salmon growth and migration might be more useful if they were stock/ESU specific. No mathematical algorithms are provided for modeling movements. Are existing data of fine enough scale to develop a model that can be validated?

Task 3.1e: Can the proponents provide examples of how Ecopath with ecosystem models have proven to be useful for salmon forecasting and management? Salmon are a very minor part of the California Current ecosystem. Could potential problems with this broad-scale snapshot approach be provided?

Task 3.2: A number of predictors (or forecasters? Note: the terms seem to be used interchangeably but in reality are very different, they should use forecasters) are rejected here because they need more degrees of freedom (df). How do the proponents know that the predictors they have chosen have enough degrees of freedom? Forecasts of return rates are dependent on individual genetic assignments, and it is not clear when these will be available. The proponents have some promising ecological indices but need more degrees of freedom. GAMs will be used to estimate return rates. Can methodological details be provided? A key question is whether or not stock/ESU-specific data series and sample sizes are sufficient.

Task 3.3: How do the proponents plan to engage managers? It is not clear how the managers can directly use the products provided. Can the proponents demonstrate direct coordination and input from BPA managers, as well as state and tribal fishery managers?

Monitoring and evaluation: Monitoring and evaluation of results is an integral part of the whole program, and data are used in scientific publications.

Can plans for long term M&E assessment of ocean survival, or conditions that affect ocean survival of Columbia River Basin salmonids be provided? Ultimately, the success or failure of this project will be measured by the utility of the products (ecological indices, run forecasts) to BPA managers. One concern that would benefit from further discussion in the proposal is whether the spatial, temporal, and biological scales/sample sizes are sufficient to provide useful products. In the face of increasing climate variation, it's not likely that remote sensing or computer modeling will ever be a useful substitute for direct sampling and monitoring of juvenile salmon in the Columbia R. plume. An annual "in-depth” evaluation of the efficacy of monitoring would be useful, rather than delaying this to the end of the next funding cycle.

Facilities, equipment, and personnel are better than adequate. Vessels are a key facility for the program and seem to be available. Staff proposed for the work have very good scientific credentials and are exceptionally well qualified. Can information on FTEs/hours of time commitment by the 16 PIs and 10 Associate Investigators, as well as information on which PIs and AIs who will carry out specific tasks be provided?

Information Transfer: Data will be made available in the scientific literature through peer reviewed papers and reports and through talks at scientific meetings and coastal forums. Can the proponents provide a strategy to provide for better transfer of information to people concerned with management of the river (e.g., USCE, hydro groups) since flow dynamics clearly affect the oceanography?

Benefit to focal and non-focal species: Increased knowledge of how oceanographic factors affect salmon survival will provide significant benefits to anadromous salmonids.

It should lead directly to measures that can be undertaken to improve salmon survival in the ocean and forecast return rates of salmon. This ongoing project has demonstrated significant benefits that are likely to persist over the long-term.

There are ample benefits to non-focal species such as non-salmonids and forage species through increased understanding of oceanographic processes. The proposed fieldwork may affect non-focal species, however, in general "reasonable" precautions seem to have been taken. Can information on the catch and bycatch of all non-focal species during trawl and purse seine fishing operations be provided?


Independent Scientific Review Panel Preliminary Review (June 2, 2006) [Download full document]

Recommendation: Fundable (Qualified)
NPCC Comments: This is an innovative project that has yielded new and critically needed information on how conditions in the ocean and plume affect salmon survival. A unique aspect of this work is the ecosystem approach that is taken to understand salmon survival. This approach is highly consistent with science principles in the Fish and Wildlife Program.

Proposals for the project have expanded to encompass new objectives well beyond the scope of those previously reviewed by the ISRP ("research in the Columbia River plume to investigate juvenile salmon growth and survival, and modeling studies to investigate management of Columbia River flows to improve habitat opportunity in the plume").

Therefore, the ISRP qualifies this “fundable” recommendation with a number of questions to be considered (although the ISRP is not requesting a response):

Could the proponents provide a strategic overview that prioritizes their proposed objectives, tasks, and subtasks, including specific information for each task on the PIs and staff, FTEs committed to that task, critical assumptions, experimental design, justification for degrees of freedom (number of years)/statistical significance, specific timelines, and costs supported by BPA? Could proponents provide an effectiveness analysis of the various results sooner than 2009, as well as a specific plan for involvement of hydro managers?

Technical and Scientific Background: The proponents have provided an excellent summary of the technical and scientific background, and the logical need to address the problem to benefit salmon is clearly defined.

Rationale and Significance to Subbasin Plans and Regional Programs: The proposal addresses objectives in the 2000 Fish and Wildlife Program Plan.

Could the proponents relate the proposal to the 2005 research plan and provide some explicit descriptions of how the research will help with Biological Opinions? The sponsors do not indicate whether the proposed work is called for in the Estuary Subbasin Plan.

Relationships to other project: There is evidence in this proposal of good integration within the large group of proponents (n=26 scientists). The modeling work is integrated with only one of the proposed or ongoing estuary projects (20030100). The proponents also relate their research to US Army Corps of Engineers and National Science Foundation funded projects. Some of the proposed work seems to be dependent upon the continuation of projects funded primarily by these other sources, which could be a problem. Will Peterson's Newport time series be funded by this proposal or from some other source? Only passing reference is made to other related and similar projects such as “Acoustic Tracking for Survival” (200311400) and the "inner estuary" (20030100) researchers. Given that the proposed ocean array studies are focused on the plume area, could the proponents enable coordination between these two projects?

At present, one of the PIs plans to participate in the 2006-2009 research vessel cruises of project #200300900 (Canada-USA Shelf Salmon Survival Study). There is duplication between these two projects on some of the proposed research, e.g., bioenergetics modeling. The proponents also plan to work closely with project #200723600 ("Strategic Adaptation of the Federal Columbia River Power System to Climate Variability and Change"), that is, use remote sensing products and habitat metrics. An integrated approach is required to move the products of research in all key habitats to management agencies. Can proponents demonstrate links to specific BPA-funded restoration or salmon management projects that might be potential users of their proposed ecological indicator/run forecast products?

Project history: This innovative project has contributed significantly to understanding how plume and near shore ocean conditions influence salmon survival. Excellent background and history material are provided. The proponents have demonstrated good monitoring for results, a strong publication record, and all data are archived and/or made available for others to use.

Objectives: A more strategic approach is required to select the most important topics to improve understanding of ocean survival. Can the proponents provide a discussion of what they see as the most important subprojects?

The desired outcome of this project (last 2 paragraphs, section F, p. 30) is that products (ecological indicators; forecasts of the effect of climate and ocean conditions on salmon survival) provided each year by the proponents will help BPA managers evaluate the success or failure of various mitigation programs. For example, if return rates of adult salmon from a particular mitigation program are lower than expected, then changes in ocean conditions "would provide a least one reason why." At the end of the next funding cycle (2007-2009), the proponents promise to provide and "in-depth analysis of the efficacy" of their monitoring and to design a smaller-scale, longer-term, cost-effective monitoring program that will provide these products for as long as managers find them useful. Could the proponents conduct this "in-depth" analysis each year? If "in-depth" analysis is postponed until the end of the next funding cycle, the proponents might discover that they have insufficient samples sizes, variables, etc., to produce the desired outcome (run forecasting products). Key to this is whether or not they have sufficient stock-specific data on Columbia River Chinook and coho salmon ESUs.

Tasks (work elements): The comprehensive ecosystem/mechanistic approach is the major strength of this proposal. Most of the scientific methods are based on sound scientific principles. Cutting edge techniques will be used to accomplish many of the objectives. On the other hand, methods for specific tasks (work elements) are often not of sufficient detail to evaluate by the narrative alone. The experimental design is very complex with multiple variables. Throughout the proposal, there is seldom if any explanation of experimental or field sampling design, how sample sizes were determined, or whether sample sizes are sufficient for the proposed statistical tests. Critical assumptions or consideration of alternative methods for specific tasks are usually not presented or discussed. There is some coordination with other projects conducting similar research. However, are the times and areas of proposed surveys complementary or redundant with other projects? The proponents are counting on models to do the integration of results; however, plans for verifying the models are not specified. Mathematical algorithms for computer models are seldom if ever described in sufficient detail to permit evaluation by reviewers from the narrative alone. The benefits of the proposed computer simulation modeling (other than to generate new hypotheses) is questionable given the lack of sufficient time series of field data from objective 1 to validate results. Methods for bringing results to managers are not well described.

Questions and comments by the reviewers on specific tasks are as follows:

Task 1.1a: The proponents imply that individual fish can be identified to stock of origin or ESU of origin. Can the proponents provide details on genetic baselines and data analysis methods?

Task 1.1b: Ocean growth and bioenergetic tasks, as well as most other tasks in this proposal, would be improved if they were genetic stock or ESU specific. Differences in ocean growth and bioenergetics between hatchery and wild fish might be significant, e.g., hatchery fish might start their ocean life with a larger reserve of lipids than wild fish, but did the proponents consider these factors?

Task 1.1c: Can the proponents describe potential problems with otolith techniques? It is not clear if catch location vs. residence time in the Columbia River plume can be resolved by this technique. Sulfur is mentioned as an isotope to be measured. Is this in addition to carbon and nitrogen? It should be.

Task 1.2a: How useful are the avian predator data without direct feeding studies?

Task 1.2b: Pathogen studies would be more useful if they were stock or ESU specific. How were sample sizes established?

Task 1.2C: Would the results be more useful if they were stock-specific?

Task 2.1a: Chinook smolts and fry likely continue to trickle out of the estuary into the autumn as per six life history types described so far. The planned sampling scheme might miss them. Will salmon in the catch be identified to stock or ESU? Will results from purse seine sampling be comparable to trawl sampling used for other tasks? Can the proponents provide detailed descriptions of sampling gear/methods, fishing stations, statistical or analytical procedures?

Task 2.1c: Fine scale studies of salmon and prey in relation to the plume are to be completed in one year (2007); does this assume that data on interannual variation at this fine scale are not necessary? This task is contingent on availability of a large NOAA vessel, as well as analyses performed as a part of studies funded by other grants (NSF, etc.). Can the proponents provide information on the experimental design, sample size/statistical power, etc., to evaluate whether the results would be statistically valid?

Task 2.1d: Can the proponents provide information on permits, methods, analytical details, etc.?

Task 3.1: This seems to be a very complex series of models - as per comments above, have they been chosen strategically?

Task 3.1a: This physical circulation model has already been developed. Can the proponents provide information as to algorithms used, how the model was validated, or how it is integrated with other models?

Task 3.1b: Can the proponents provide details on how the existing model of plankton and nutrient dynamics will be adapted for use in the Columbia River estuary and plume and coupled with the physical circulation model? The proposed computer simulations will be used to fill data gaps, but it is not clear how these will be validated.

Task 3.1c: Can the models be developed so they are stock/ESU specific and related to timing of ocean entry? The SBMs (spatially explicit) would focus on horizontal and vertical variation in salmon prey densities with respect to oceanographic features in and near the Columbia R. plume. Temporal variation is likely to be important but the proposed seasonal scale is likely too broad to capture the critical ocean entry period. The GOA/GLOBEC bioenergetic studies (Beauchamp, UW) mentioned focus on Prince William Sound pink salmon, which have a very different ocean life history than Columbia River coho and Chinook salmon. How would close coordination with this project be beneficial?

Task 3.1d: IBM models of salmon growth and migration might be more useful if they were stock/ESU specific. No mathematical algorithms are provided for modeling movements. Are existing data of fine enough scale to develop a model that can be validated?

Task 3.1e: Can the proponents provide examples of how Ecopath with ecosystem models have proven to be useful for salmon forecasting and management? Salmon are a very minor part of the California Current ecosystem. Could potential problems with this broad-scale snapshot approach be provided?

Task 3.2: A number of predictors (or forecasters? Note: the terms seem to be used interchangeably but in reality are very different, they should use forecasters) are rejected here because they need more degrees of freedom (df). How do the proponents know that the predictors they have chosen have enough degrees of freedom? Forecasts of return rates are dependent on individual genetic assignments, and it is not clear when these will be available. The proponents have some promising ecological indices but need more degrees of freedom. GAMs will be used to estimate return rates. Can methodological details be provided? A key question is whether or not stock/ESU-specific data series and sample sizes are sufficient.

Task 3.3: How do the proponents plan to engage managers? It is not clear how the managers can directly use the products provided. Can the proponents demonstrate direct coordination and input from BPA managers, as well as state and tribal fishery managers?

Monitoring and evaluation: Monitoring and evaluation of results is an integral part of the whole program, and data are used in scientific publications.

Can plans for long term M&E assessment of ocean survival, or conditions that affect ocean survival of Columbia River Basin salmonids be provided? Ultimately, the success or failure of this project will be measured by the utility of the products (ecological indices, run forecasts) to BPA managers. One concern that would benefit from further discussion in the proposal is whether the spatial, temporal, and biological scales/sample sizes are sufficient to provide useful products. In the face of increasing climate variation, it's not likely that remote sensing or computer modeling will ever be a useful substitute for direct sampling and monitoring of juvenile salmon in the Columbia R. plume. An annual "in-depth” evaluation of the efficacy of monitoring would be useful, rather than delaying this to the end of the next funding cycle.

Facilities, equipment, and personnel are better than adequate. Vessels are a key facility for the program and seem to be available. Staff proposed for the work have very good scientific credentials and are exceptionally well qualified. Can information on FTEs/hours of time commitment by the 16 PIs and 10 Associate Investigators, as well as information on which PIs and AIs who will carry out specific tasks be provided?

Information Transfer: Data will be made available in the scientific literature through peer reviewed papers and reports and through talks at scientific meetings and coastal forums. Can the proponents provide a strategy to provide for better transfer of information to people concerned with management of the river (e.g., USCE, hydro groups) since flow dynamics clearly affect the oceanography?

Benefit to focal and non-focal species: Increased knowledge of how oceanographic factors affect salmon survival will provide significant benefits to anadromous salmonids.

It should lead directly to measures that can be undertaken to improve salmon survival in the ocean and forecast return rates of salmon. This ongoing project has demonstrated significant benefits that are likely to persist over the long-term.

There are ample benefits to non-focal species such as non-salmonids and forage species through increased understanding of oceanographic processes. The proposed fieldwork may affect non-focal species, however, in general "reasonable" precautions seem to have been taken. Can information on the catch and bycatch of all non-focal species during trawl and purse seine fishing operations be provided?

Maintained by the Columbia Basin Fish & Wildlife Authority. Please direct comments or questions to the webmaster.