FY 2003 Request for Studies proposal 200305600

Section 1. Administrative

Proposal titleEvaluating the Reproductive Success of Natural- and Hatchery-Origin Columbia River Chum Salmon
Proposal ID200305600
OrganizationWashington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW)
Proposal contact person or principal investigator
NameSteve Schroder
Mailing address600 Capitol Way North Olympia, WA 98501-1091
Phone / email3609022751 / schrosls@dfw.wa.gov
Manager authorizing this projectSteve Schroder
Review cycleFY 2003 Request for Studies
Province / SubbasinColumbia Estuary / Elochoman
Short descriptionWe will examine the reproductive success of Lower Columbia River chum salmon spawning in a controlled flow observation stream located in the Elochoman River basin.
Target speciesChum
Project location
46.2386 -123.4308 Elochoman River
Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives (RPAs)



Relevant RPAs based on NMFS/BPA review:

Reviewing agencyAction #BiOp AgencyDescription

Section 2. Past accomplishments


Section 3. Relationships to other projects

Project IDTitleDescription

Section 4. Budget for Planning and Design phase

Task-based budget
ObjectiveTaskDuration in FYsEstimated 2003 costSubcontractor
Outyear objectives-based budget
ObjectiveStarting FYEnding FYEstimated cost
Outyear budgets for Planning and Design phase

Section 5. Budget for Construction and Implementation phase

Task-based budget
ObjectiveTaskDuration in FYsEstimated 2003 costSubcontractor
Outyear objectives-based budget
ObjectiveStarting FYEnding FYEstimated cost
Outyear budgets for Construction and Implementation phase

Section 6. Budget for Operations and Maintenance phase

Task-based budget
ObjectiveTaskDuration in FYsEstimated 2003 costSubcontractor
Outyear objectives-based budget
ObjectiveStarting FYEnding FYEstimated cost
Outyear budgets for Operations and Maintenance phase

Section 7. Budget for Monitoring and Evaluation phase

Task-based budget
ObjectiveTaskDuration in FYsEstimated 2003 costSubcontractor
Outyear objectives-based budget
ObjectiveStarting FYEnding FYEstimated cost
Outyear budgets for Monitoring and Evaluation phase

Section 8. Estimated budget summary

Itemized budget
ItemNoteFY 2003 cost
Indirect 25% of total $238,750
Other All expenses except indirect $716,250
Total estimated budget
Total FY 2003 cost$955,000
Amount anticipated from previously committed BPA funds$0
Total FY 2003 budget request$955,000
FY 2003 forecast from 2002$0
% change from forecast0.0%
Cost sharing
OrganizationItem or service providedAmountCash or in-kind

Reviews and recommendations

This information was not provided on the original proposals, but was generated during the review process.

Fundable if response is adequate.
Apr 25, 2003


Fundable contingent on an adequate response to ISRP questions and comments. This proposal is a technically sound investigation, in a “semi controlled spawning habitat” mesocosm, of reproductive success of hatchery-bred and natural origin chum salmon from the Grays River. It will enable researchers to study in detail morphological and behavioral components of fitness of spawning chum salmon and potentially to understand related differences of reproductive success, measured at both fry and adult life stages, between hatchery-origin and natural-origin spawners. The origins of individual parents of the first filial generation would be identifiable from dissected otoliths after spawning and they would be associated with their offspring by their msDNA genotypes. The lineages of later generations would be identifiable by msDNA parentage analysis. It is not clear to reviewers why a direct study of reproductive success in the Gray’s River or a weir-controlled tributary of the River would not be more directly applicable to questions about the relative fitness of hatchery-origin chum salmon and of their offspring. Will salmon in a gravel-filled trough exhibit the same array of behaviors that they would in their native habitat? Would a direct study be infeasible?

The proposers report that first-generation returns to the supplementation hatchery on the Grays River last year (2002?) may have comprised the largest spawning population ever observed in the river but that otoliths recovered from spent fish have not been examined and it is not known whether salmon produced by the hatchery contributed substantially to the spawning population. What proportion of Grays River spawners in 2002 were produced by the hatchery? (Surely a small sample of otoliths could readily be examined.)

Assuming that a substantial portion of the Grays River spawners will have been produced from the hatchery, the proposers establish the purpose of their research as discovering whether these hatchery origin spawners are reproductively successful, as successful as wild-origin fish. That is, the rationale for hatchery supplementation depends on the reproductive success of the hatchery-origin spawners without cost to the fitness of the natural-origin component of the population. They point out that the Grays River population is the only Columbia River population with a supplementation hatchery component, thus it offers the only opportunity for comparative study of reproductive success in hatchery- and natural-origin chum salmon. Reviewers ask whether a more appropriate reference would be the reproductive success of natural-origin chum salmon in the absence of hatchery-origin salmon; could research in a ‘semi controlled’ spawning habitat such as that proposed at Beaver Creek be designed to provide such a comparison? Could comparisons of reproductive success between hatchery-origin rich and natural-origin rich tributaries of the Grays River provide such comparisons? It concerns the ISRP that the proposed research in a ‘semi controlled’ habitat will not be able to control the proportion of hatchery origin (HOR) and natural origin (NOR) spawners except by choosing the tributary of the Grays River where the spawners are collected (Crazy Johnson Creek is believed to be rich in natural origin spawners, West Fork in hatchery origin spawners.) What evidence is there (if no otoliths have been examined) that this spawner-selection protocol will provide adequate experimental contrast between the lineages? Without control over the proportions of HOR- and NOR-spawners, will the proposed research detect any frequency-of-HORs effect on the reproductive success of HOR and NOR spawners?

The proposed research is expensive, but it is the only proposed research in the ESU.

Does the study address the following RFS questions:

Are there statistically significant differences in reproductive success between natural-origin and hatchery-origin fish when measured at the second generation (F2)? Do F1 progeny with HxW parents differ from F1 progeny with HxH parents in the production of F2 progeny?

Yes – assuming that enough salmon survive to be counted and that adequate numbers of HO and NO parents are incorporated in the initial spawning.

What are possible hypotheses to explain this difference? For example, can the difference be attributed to reduced genetic fitness of hatchery-origin compared to natural-origin fish? Are differences more significant during any specific life history stages?

Yes – a strength of the proposed research is that behavioral and morphological components of reproductive success of individual spawners will be observed.

What is the likely effect of any difference, in terms of population growth, population recovery, and genetic diversity/fitness in subsequent generations according to the Viable Salmonid Population (VSP) criteria?

The project has the potential to address whether the population grows and how genetic diversity and fitness are affected by hatchery origin spawners, but the proposal does not address the question directly.

Does the proposal address the additional criteria for selecting among well-designed and responsive proposals include:

The degree to which studies are directly applicable to one or more of the following listed ESUs (for which there are currently no reproductive success studies underway): Upper Columbia steelhead, Mid-Columbia steelhead; Snake River fall chinook; and Columbia River chum. Studies not occurring in those ESUs, but with clear applicability to those ESUs will also be considered;

Yes—it is the only proposed study of reproductive success in the Columbia River chum ESU.

The degree to which the study is designed (or is capable of being extended) to address whether and to what extent any difference in reproductive success of hatchery spawners persists in subsequent generations (beyond F2);


The degree to which proposals may provide information more broadly applicable to multiple species/ESUs identified above;

More to the point— reproductive comparisons from smolt species may not be pertinent to chum, a fry-emigrating species, so it is arguably important to compare reproductive success in chum salmon.

Potential to commit to a long-term study (beyond F2); and

Yes - the potential is here.

Overall cost effectiveness

Highest cost of all the proposals in this set.

Fundable - response required
May 14, 2003


Fundable - response required
May 14, 2003


Jun 27, 2003


Fundable. This is one of the better-designed studies submitted for the RFS.

If this is the only chum hatchery on the Columbia is this a high priority project? In the current chum ESU is there any problem estimating lambda? Does this hatchery create a problem with strays? Does this ESU really need the amount of effort that upriver stocks need? This may be a forward-looking problem and could help the region decide whether to ramp down hatchery chum production. Having some work on chum restoration would likely be worthwhile. The comments help explain the unique aspects of this system. It is not perfect, but good information should come from it, especially after this exchange.

Responses to most ISRP questions were reasonable. A question remains as to whether the Grays River population represents a truly wild population uninfluenced by earlier hatchery introductions. The answer to this question in the sponsor’s response is conjectural and not especially compelling. The genetic composition of the Grays River stock should be compared with other Lower Columbia River chum stocks to at least demonstrate whether the Grays River population is representative of other Lower River chum stocks. A solid rationale is presented for conducting the research in the Elochoman rather than the Grays River. Straying of non-project fish into the Elochoman likely would be less than in the Grays and the ability to detect strays would be greater.

The ISRP question concerning genetic background (Q2 in their reply) seems to be a reasonable assumption, but it is an assumption, and they should continue to consider this issue.

Regarding the ISRP’s question about fish from the same origin spawning separately vs. fish from mixed origins spawning together, the logic of the method described in the response seems a bit fuzzy and appears to be based on a strong assurance of controlling sampling proportions and then being able to track subsequent genetic transmissions.

Given the ISRP site visit to the Grays River, many of the ISRP questions would not be too practical in that environment. Highly variable flows and an unstable stream channel in the Grays likely would reduce the ability of the investigators to enumerate juvenile chum and could jeopardize the persistence of a weir-controlled project site. They have provided sound answers to our questions.

The sponsors presented evidence from decoded otoliths that the first generation adults collected at Crazy Johnson Creek and West Fork of the Grays would be predominantly of wild-origin and hatchery-origin, respectively. Furthermore, they have developed a method for assessing the percentage of hatchery and wild parents from each site at the time fish are collected for transplantation to the Elochoman.

Dr. Schroder is identified as the project lead. He has extensive experience working with chum salmon – likely the most experience in the Pacific NW.

The response does not address concerns about the size of the budget.