FINAL Summary

Biology Committee Meeting

June 3, 1999

Denver International Airport

Participants: Frank Pfeifer, Tom Pitts, Robert Forrest, Paul Dey, Tom Nesler, Kevin Christopherson, Larry Crist, Art Roybal, Tom Pruitt, Tim Modde, Mike Hudson, Angela Kantola, Tom Czapla, Chuck McAda, Bruce Haines, Rick Anderson, Bob Muth, Henry Maddux, Kevin Bestgen, Dan Beyers, and Tom Chart.

CONVENE - 9:10 a.m.

1. Additions/Revisions to the agenda - The agenda was revised as it appears below. Tom Czapla noted that the Tyus tributary report will be delayed by about 2 months due to a six-month delay in the funding transfer. Should be available 9-15-99.

2. Approval of April 30th conference call summary - The summary was approved as written.

3. Discussion/Approval of draft final reports:

a. Flaming Gorge Studies: Reproduction and recruitment of Gila spp. and Colorado Pikeminnow in the middle Green River (Chart, et al.) - The synopsis needs a simple statement of goals and objectives in the first paragraph. On page 15 of the synopsis, clarify the potentially conflicting conclusion statements (which study do they refer to, etc.). Clarify what "structures not being created or destroyed" refers to (page 16). On the first page of the synopsis, are we certain that humpback require >16c for spawning (if so, provide citation)? Miller and Hubert is a compendium, so perhaps it's not appropriate to use them as a citation (cite source material, instead). Page 3 of the synopsis states neither researcher found correlation between YOY pikeminnow catch rate and habitat availability, but this doesn't appear in the conclusions. Either cite the other studies where this was also found or make this a conclusion statement. "Flooded vegetation providing refuge" isn't really a conclusion, so should remain as a speculation in the body of the report. Recommendations: the third item under "future work" could be dropped (covered under ISMP). Is information on canyon reach habitat partitioning necessary for management of the Gila complex or for monitoring (explain)? Recommendation regarding studying the interaction between native and nonnative fishes should be worded differently if it just means further using the existing data set to better define interactions (just incorporate this into the next recommendation). Why do the authors not recommend catfish removal prior to population estimates (clarify that the intent is to do both at once to reduce the amount of effort needed)? Recommendation paragraph regarding floodplain flows needs explanation. The Committee approved the report with the foregoing changes.

b. Evaluation of fish passage at the Grand Valley Irrigation Company diversion dam on the Colorado River near Palisade, Colorado (Burdick) - Frank noted that the information in this study is limited given that the study was truncated to one year. Tom Nesler recommended qualifying the conclusions (make clear that the data were limited). Conclusions 2-4 are just repeated results, so eliminate them from the conclusions section. There will not be any recommendations. The Committee approved the report with the foregoing changes.

c. Annual Assessment of Colorado Pikeminnow Larval Production in the Gunnison and Colorado Rivers, Colorado 1992-1996 (Rick Anderson). Page viii, "strong, but not significant" statement should parenthetically state the level of correlation. Put statement of objectives near the beginning of the executive summary. Recommendations 1-5 seem to deal with methodology more than with the objectives of the report; it seems recommendations should derive more specifically from the conclusions of the report. The Committee approved the report with the foregoing revisions, with the exception of the recommendations section, which >Rick will re-write and post to the listserver by June 9th. >If Committee members have comments or concerns about those recommendations, they will post them to the listserver by June 15.

d. Genetics Management Plan (Czapla) - Tom Czapla said he'd been working with Robert Wigington, John Hawkins, and Tom Pitts to resolve language in item 5 on page 5, and distributed a June 2 memo from Robert proposing new language. The Committee accepted the plan as final with the wording in Robert's June 2 memo, with one change: replace "details" in the second sentence with "appropriate uses and priorities." If anyone has any concerns, they can file a minority report, then approval of this report will go to the Management Committee. Otherwise, it is approved by the Biology Committee.

4. Update on Green River razorback spawning this year - Tom Pruitt distributed a handout on middle Green River razorback sucker spawning and collection. Thirty-two adults were captured, of which 22 were brought back to the hatchery. Six of the 22 were females, so they got 6 new lots at Ouray. Also, a previously unused Green River cross was made at the Grand Valley facility. So, a total of 7 new single-mated pair lots of razorbacks was created this year, bringing us to a total of 20 of the 25 needed lots. Committee members asked why 56,907 larvae were stocked in Stirrup wetland when the Biology Committee expressly approved stocking up to 20,000, with the understanding that the Biology Committee would be contacted regarding stocking additional fish. The Committee was contacted regarding stocking an additional 15,000 fish, but understood that was 15,000 in addition to the 20,000 they previously approved, not 15,000 in addition to ~40,000. Committee members believe the action was inappropriate based on the Committee's decision and want to be sure we don't conduct business this way in the future.

5. Since it's becoming more difficult to move fish back into Utah once they've left the state, Frank Pfeifer proposed a change with regards to development of the Colorado River razorback broodstock using Green River fish. He recommended leaving these eight razorbacks at Ouray, taking sperm from Colorado River males at Grand Valley to Ouray and making the crosses there, then bringing the fertilized eggs back to the Grand Valley facility, and subsequently releasing the 8 wild adults back to the Green River. The Committee agreed.

Bruce Haines distributed a draft table of numbers of razorback sucker stocked and recaptured in the Green River. Tom Czapla noted that the table shows that most of the recaptures are of fish stocked at a larger size. However, we're now stocking smaller fish in depression wetlands, so that could show a different effect. More success has been seen with larger fish on the San Juan also, and >Frank will distribute the San Juan stocking report to the Biology Committee when it's completed in a couple of months.

Tom Pruitt said 13 lots were produced from 2 females in 1993. Under the Genetics Management Plan, we can only use 2 of those lots in the 25 x 25 single-paired mating strategy, and the plan calls for stocking out the remaining 11 lots (containing ~300 fish total). The Committee confirmed that was the right strategy and agreed that these fish should be stocked as soon as they are inventoried (~July).

6. Buth's razorback genetics report - Tom Czapla said he's received no response to his e-mails and phone calls to Buth. Larry said he routinely denies the request for payment of the remaining few thousand dollars on this contract. >Tom Czapla will prepare a letter from Ralph Morgenweck to Buth's department head with a copy to UCLA's chief of research and/or president. Larry Crist will send a companion letter from Reclamation (as the contracting agency).

7. DeMaris's Gila genetics report - Tom Czapla said two (Echelle and Toline) of the five peer reviewers responded; the other three apparently will not respond. The Program Director's office will send DeMaris a letter asking him commit to a revision date. Larry Crist will send a companion letter from Reclamation (as the contracting agency).

8. Colorado pikeminnow genetics report - Tom Czapla said he believes this report is ready to come to the Biology Committee. >Committee members will review the peer review comments received to date, and the September 30 version will be on a future Committee meeting agenda for discussion/approval. >Tom Czapla will send Paul Dey and Art Roybal copies of the September 30 version.

9. Discussion on suggested changes to ISMP

What does the Committee believe the objectives of ISMP should be? Henry noted that monitoring will continue beyond the Program. Frank reminded the Committee that a major criticism of ISMP is that it doesn't provide adult population estimates (only trends). The goals of ISMP as stated in the Program Director's office recommendations are: 1) determine the status and trends in the populations of the endangered Colorado River fishes; and 2) determine the response of populations to an aggregate of management and recovery actions. Larry Crist argued that real-time fish data in individual years has important ramifications for day-to-day management of Flaming Gorge releases, and collecting that sort of data should be part of ISMP. Others countered that is a very unique situation and a different type of monitoring (which may still have its place, but not necessarily in ISMP). Dan suggested that the first objective needs to identify the precision needed (e.g., within 20% of the actual number) which will then help identify the monitoring tools needed. The Committee outlined the following ideas:

Goal: Determine the population size, recruitment potential, and long-term trends of the endangered Colorado River fishes.

Colorado pikeminnow

Objective 1) Determine adult population estimate of identified populations of all four species


Precision? (20% cv?; 50% cv?)

Objective 2) Annually determine young-of-year fall abundance in nursery reaches.

Population estimate or CPUE

(20% cv?; 50% cv?)

Razorback sucker

Same (maybe change wording for objective #2 somewhat)

Humpback chub




>Tom Czapla will work with Ron Ryel to outline pros and cons of different methods and levels of precision (will have something in advance of the July Biology Committee meeting).

10. Next meeting - July 15-16, at the Fish and Wildlife Service office in Denver (sixth floor conference room on the west end of the building). The meeting will begin at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 15 and conclude by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, July 16. Agenda items will include: review of the Program Director's draft recommended FY 2000 work plan; Flaming Gorge report (Friday); and ISMP.

ADJOURN - 4:00 p.m.