BIOLOGY COMMITTEE MEETING SUMMARY
11/18/98

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Biology Committee Meeting

November 18, 1998, UDWR, Salt Lake City, UT

ATTENDEES: Larry Crist, Tom Pitts, John Hawkins, Art Roybal, Tom Nesler, Paul Dey, Robert Forrest, Bob Muth, Kevin Christopherson, Tom Czapla, Angela Kantola, Pat Nelson, Chris Kelleher, Melissa Trammel, Tom Chart, Tim Modde, Mark Fuller.

Action or "to-do" items are identified by a ">."

Recommendations to the Management Committee are in ALL CAPS.

Items for upcoming meeting agendas are identified by an asterisk (*).

CONVENE: 8:15 a.m.

1. Review and revise agenda

2. NIWQP Update - Pat Nelson said the National Irrigation Water Quality Program is entering the remediation phase for selenium in the Upper Basin and wants to coordinate these activities with the Recovery Program to make sure they don't identify alternatives that could adversely affect the endangered fishes or their habitat. They're currently in the planning phase and may have some alternatives for Biology Committee review in several months. Larry Crist encouraged >Committee members to review the planning proposals that Pat sent out on October 27. *This will be on the agenda for the next Committee meeting.

3. Items/issues for future Biology Committee meeting agendas:

*Tom Czapla distributed proposed scopes of work and peer review comments on the importance of tributaries for Biology Committee consideration/recommendations.

*Colorado Squawfish translocation - Tom Czapla said the Biology Committee needs to discuss and make a recommendation as to whether the upper Colorado River population model (Doug Osmundson's work) can be adjusted to compensate for the removal of translocated squawfish or if going ahead now will confound the model and impair our ability to develop a baseline to determine if translocation is effective. Tom suggested that Doug make a presentation on the possible effects and then the Committee discuss it. >Tom Czapla will ask Doug Osmundson to provide a written briefing prior to the meeting.

*Tom Czapla said that the Committee needs to receive and review the States' stocking plans as soon as possible (hopefully in early December). Tom Nesler provided copies of Colorado's revised plan. Leo Lentsch said Utah will submit their plan to the Committee by mid-December.

*Tom Czapla said he will send out a revised Genetics Management Plan by the end of this week. Areas where issues remain will be highlighted.

*Angela Kantola said that the revised Yampa nonnative fish removal scope of work (#98) (contained in the recently distributed FY 99 scopes of work package) needs Committee review.

*Angela said Yampa Management Team would like time on a January agenda for the Committee to review the Yampa fish flow study (report to be distributed in a few weeks) and preliminary CRDSS runs. >The Service needs to provide the Committee clarification on whether this is a review of the final low flow studies report or exactly what is being requested.

*Angela suggested that the Committee review and provide comments on the revised channel monitoring scope of work which was posted by George Smith to the list server.

*Angela reminded the Committee that Pat Martinez is looking for any input on the proposed nonnative fish screens on Highline Reservoir (they will soon be committing funds to this project). >Tom Nesler will discuss with Pat if this needs to be on an upcoming meeting agenda.

*Discussion of Biology Committee chairmanship.

4. Schedule Upcoming meeting(s): (>Larry Crist also will review the Committee workload and be prepared to recommend any needed conference calls at the Committee's December 3 meeting.)

Thursday, December 3, at the Denver at the Fish and Wildlife Service office in Lakewood from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. >Angela Kantola will schedule a meeting room.

January 19-20 in Salt Lake City from 10 a.m. on the 19th through noon on the 20th. >Leo Lentsch will schedule a meeting room.

February 10-11 in Grand Junction from 10 a.m. on the 10th through 4 p.m. on the 11th to review recommended Program guidance and RIPRAP revisions (10th) and review reports (11th). >Frank Pfeifer will schedule a meeting room.

5. Report Reviews (*The Committee determined that most of the following reports need to be revised and resubmitted, thus those will appear on future meeting agendas).

a. Evaluation of stocking channel catfish in Kenney Reservoir, Colorado. Project:#28

Tom Pitts suggested that recommendation six read something like "consideration will be given in the catfish stocking plan to removing catfish from the White River below Kenney Reservoir." Tom Nesler said he would be comfortable with that. The Committee (with the exception of John Hawkins) accepted the report and recommendations (with the proposed revision). >The revised recommendations section will be posted to the list server for approval. John Hawkins objected to the first recommendation recommending stocking channel catfish in Kenney, saying he would be comfortable if it said "propose stocking channel catfish." >John may submit a minority report.

b. The White River and endangered fish recovery: A hydrological, physical and biological synopsis. Project: #21

Tom Pitts questioned the statement in the second full paragraph on page 35 that says the middle Green River regional population is not stable (Henry Maddux has been characterizing that population as stable and increasing). Bob Muth concurred, saying that ISMP data for the last 10 years don't support that statement. Chris Kelleher said he understood the statement to say that if the core population is not supported by tributary subpopulations, then the core population is rendered unstable in the light of potential catastrophic events. The Committee recommended striking the sentence in question, and noted that the importance of the White River to the mainstem population is made elsewhere in the paragraph. Kevin Christopherson agreed to this change. Tim Modde said he thinks the term "metapopulation" is used inappropriately in this report. Telemetry data suggest that fish in the White River are from two subpopulations, which isn't recognized in the published literature as a subunit of a metapopulation. It's also not consistent with the way we've defined population in the Genetics Management Plan. Bob Muth said that if the referenced Gilpin definition of metapopulation is correct, then the term is being used correctly. The Committee asked the >authors to revisit the definitions of metapopulation and be sure they're applying it correctly and that they then clarify how the White River fits with the published definitions of metapopulations. If it doesn't fit, then the terminology needs to be changed.

The Committee asked that the last part of the first recommendation be revised to make it clear that fertile catfish were stocked one time (the sentence is awkward). Tom Pitts questioned whether the first recommendation, in fact, contains any recommendations. If the last three sentences are the recommendation, then they need to be pulled out and the rest of the discussion moved out to the text. The Committee agreed that the recommendations in this report generally need to be stated succinctly and separately from lengthy supporting text. Is a monitoring program being recommended in #2? If so, this should be clearly stated. In #3, it's not clear how these recommendations may or may not differ from the existing operational scenario. Recommendation #5 has already been done. The Program already concluded passage at Taylor Draw is too costly for the benefits it would provide.

Figure 11 needs a scale on the y-axis. Don't introduce figures in the discussion section. The last sentence in the next to the last paragraph of the Executive Summary should be narrowed to say something like "the White River contributes to the stability of the Green River population."

The Committee generally approved the report with the foregoing modifications, but asked to review: 1) how the metapopulation issue is addressed; and 2) the revised recommendations section (both may be posted to the list server).

c. Backwater use by Young-of the-Year chub (Gila sp.) and Colorado squawfish (Ptychocheilus lucius) in Desolation and Gray Canyons of the Green River, Utah.

Project: #FG-39

Robert Forrest distributed written comments. Tom Nesler said he sees a fatal flaw in the conclusions and recommendations sections. The conclusions are unclear, although they do state that it's difficult to make definitive conclusions. Also, each recommendation has at least one conclusion statement in it. John Hawkins and Bob Muth said they didn't believe reviewer comments have been adequately addressed. Larry noted that these reports were supposed to have been submitted to the Committee along with reviewer comments and a discussion of how the comments were addressed. Kevin Christopherson said several reviewer comments were submitted after the current draft was prepared. He had intended to take those comments and the comments of the Biology Committee and produce another draft, but he didn't anticipate it would be November before the Biology Committee reviewed the report. >Utah should address the remaining peer review comments and comments that Biology Committee members have provided. This should be done in the context of integrating the two reports submitted under #39 (as well as the geomorphic assessment) into one report, as called for in the scope of work. >When the integrated report is provided to the Committee, reviewer comments and a discussion of how those were addressed should be included. >UDWR should post a schedule of when the integrated report will be completed and distributed for Biology Committee review. When we get an integrated report, >the Program Director's office needs review it to ascertain whether the objectives of the scope of work were met (this also applies to other reports listed below). >Bob Muth and John Hawkins will provide UDWR with their written comments.

>Additional written comments on these and other reports on today's agenda that have been identified as needing revision must be provided to the authors (with copies to Tami Black in the case of UDWR reports) by November 25.

REVIEW PROCESS: Committee members expressed concern that the Program Director's office has failed to handle and review these reports as they should. For example, they should have called attention to the need to integrate these reports several months ago. The report review process is a good one, but we all need to implement it more rigorously. >Angela Kantola will revise the Biological Report Review Process, incorporating in bold the Committee's September 1 recommendations regarding coordinator involvement. Angela also will incorporate the Management Committee's changes regarding approval of peer reviewers by the Program Director's office. >*Angela will post this and any comments from the Program Director on the proposed process to the list server and this will be discussed as an agenda item at the next Biology Committee meeting.

>When the reports discussed in this meeting summary are revised; they will be sent simultaneously to the Biology Committee and to the Program Director's office. The Biology Committee requests that within two weeks, >the Program Director's office post a message to the list server indicating whether the reports are suitable for Biology Committee review or if they need to go back for additional revision or a second round of peer review.

d. Reproduction and recruitment of Gila spp. and Colorado squawfish (Ptychocheilus lucius) in the middle Green River 1992-1996. Project: #FG-39

See comments under item c., above. Tom Nesler said the conclusions and recommendations sections in this report were much better.

e. An Assessment of Young-of-the-Year Colorado squawfish (Ptychocheilus lucius)use of backwater habitats in the Green River, Utah. Project: #33

>Again, the two reports submitted under #33 (as well as the geomorphic assessment) need to be integrated into one report, as called for in the scope of work. >When the integrated report is provided to the Committee, reviewer comments and a discussion of how those were addressed should be included. >As with #39, UDWR should post a schedule of when the integrated report will be completed and distributed for Biology Committee review. >Bob Muth and John Hawkins will provide UDWR with their written comments. Tom Nesler said his comments about the conclusions and recommendations under item c. above, also applies to the #33 reports. Also the conclusions regarding the nonnative fish and native fish correlation analysis seem to be overly abbreviated in comparison with the information presented in Appendix B.

f. Flaming Gorge Studies: Colorado squawfish YOY habitat use, Green River, Utah, 1992-1996. Project: #33

See comments under item e., above. Tom Nesler noted that 10 listed objectives are addressed with one conclusion.

g. Investigation of potential razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus) and Colorado squawfish (Ptychocheilus lucius) spawning in the lower Green River 1994 and 1995. Project: #38

Bob Muth provided written comments. >UDWR will revise this report based on reviewer comments and resubmit it (along with a discussion on how reviewer comments were addressed).

h. Aspinall Studies: Evaluation of Gunnison River flow manipulation upon larval production of Colorado squawfish in the Colorado River, Utah. Project #43A (UDWR)

Bob Muth said he would need to see Kevin Bestgen's comments (which were substantial) addressed in this report before he could approve it. Melissa Trammell distributed a summary of how she addressed other reviewer comments. Integration of this and 43B is not called for in the scope of work and will be done in the Aspinall synthesis report. However, the discussion section of this report does need to address the conclusions of Anderson's upstream report. This report and 43B do not seem to actually address Gunnison River flow manipulation. >This report will be revised and resubmitted. >Bob Muth and John Hawkins will provide written comments.

I. Aspinall Studies: Evaluation of Gunnison River flow manipulation upon larval production of Colorado squawfish in the Gunnison and Colorado Rivers, Colorado. Project: #43B (CDOW)

Tom Pitts said that the conclusion section is in narrative format and difficult to read, so those need to be itemized. Also if there are recommendations, those need to be spelled out. Integration of this and 43A is not called for in the scope of work and will be done in the Aspinall synthesis report. However, the discussion section of this report does need to at least acknowledge conclusions of Trammell's downstream report. John Hawkins said he still believes that the information (e.g., 100 figures) in the appendices needs to be better summarized in the body of the report. This report and 43A do not seem to actually address Gunnison River flow manipulation. Spelling errors need to be corrected. >This report will be revised and resubmitted. >John Hawkins will provide written comments.

j. Aspinall Studies: Nursery Habitat studies Colorado River 1992-1996. Project: #44 (Aspinall-B)

Melissa Trammell distributed a summary of how she addressed the other reviewer comments. The Committee felt that this report has some organizational problems. Statistical results are presented in the discussion section and the conclusion section includes narrative discussion. Analytical methodology needs to be discussed in the methods section, not scattered throughout the results. The report needs a separate recommendations section. Tom Pitts asked if the conclusions of the associated geomorphology study could be more clearly stated.

k. Tom Chart distributed "Flow Effects on Humpback Chub Populations in Westwater Canyon" for Biology Committee review. Tom Pitts requested that the >Program Director's office let the Committee know if this report meets format requirements and addresses the objectives stated in the scope of work.

ADJOURN 1:00 p.m.

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