Biology Committee Meeting

September 1-2, 1998, FWS, Grand Junction, CO

ATTENDEES: Frank Pfeifer, Larry Crist, Mike Carnevale, Tom Pitts, Leo Lentsch, John Hawkins, Art Roybal, Tom Nesler, Robert Forrest, Kevin Christopherson, Tom Czapla, Angela Kantola, Henry Maddux, Bob Muth, Chrissy Wilson, Mike Hudson, Tim Modde, Chris Kelleher, Kathy Holley. Doug Osmundson.

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

Recommendations to the Management Committee are in ALL CAPS.

September 1

10:00 am - Convene

1. Review and revise agenda

2. Review and approve July 1-2 draft meeting summary - Approved as written.

3. Miscellaneous items/updates - Henry noted that the instream flow coordinator position in the Program Director's office is open (advertised within the Federal government and soon to be advertised outside, as well).


a. Review of Genetics Management Plan - (June 30, 1998 version which incorporates previous Biology Committee comments)

- Comments - The Committee discussed the need for the Genetics Management Panel to review this revised document and agreed that they would discuss the document and address any issues , but withhold final approval pending Panel review. One suggestion was made to focus the document by pulling as much background and life history information as possible from the main document and put it in appendices, but the Committee agreed that this wasn't critical and probably could wait a year. John Hawkins distributed a page of comments (referred to below).

- Revisions/Additions

Put in Recovery Program format, to the extent appropriate.

Delete preface (incorporate in executive summary and/or introduction).

Clarify how the Genetics Management Plan will be implemented (stocking, broodstock management, facilities management, etc.). Delete Figure 2.

Delete "listed by relative importance" in the last full paragraph on p. 12.

Incorporate criteria in #3 on p. 13 into criteria #1 and #2 (spawning/site fidelity vs. non-spawning movements).

P. 14. Add to end of first paragraph of Section IV (instead of restoring the deletion of its 4th sentence): "Such limiting factors must also be addressed by the Recovery Program if the progeny of artificially restored or augmented stocks are to have any better chance of persistence than the progeny of current wild stocks, and for any artificially restored or augmented stocks to become self-sustaining."

Delete 6th sentence of 2nd paragraph on p. 14.

Add to end of the next sentence: "to bring up populations and to achieve population objectives."

Change title "Genetic Characterization" (p. 17, 18, 20, 32) to "Molecular Genetic Characterization" to be consistent. Delete the general genetic characterization information (replace with "undetermined" where that's the case).

Item 2(1) on p. 18 should reference the numbers in the IMO's, not those in the draft Razorback sucker recovery plan.

Put pages 14-30 (the first section IV) in an appendix.

Status and trends section (second section IV) should include the status of our genetics management (e.g., bonytail broodstock status shown on p.21 under "Genetic Characterization."). In other words, identify what we currently have to work with.

Change "tubiculated" to "tubercled."

Make table (U's and ?'s consistent with text); identify X's and N's.

Definitions of criteria on p. 32 are more succinct (and better) than those in the text.

List IMO numbers in status and trends section for comparison and add column to Table 2 on p. 35 to show IMO number.

Delete last sentence from first paragraph of p. 34.

Add citation for the population estimate of 600 at the top of p. 35.

Table 2 (p. 35) - Identify if there's a broodstock. Delete catastrophic risk column.

Table 3: revise to show need for refugia (as defined by risk criterion) and broodstock populations. Show species priority in species column. Show availability of broodstock. The Committee identified priorities by species and stock for refugia, broodstock, and augmentation/facilities. The Committee spent the greatest amount of their time discussing the revisions to this table.

Middle Green river razorbacks (p. 39) - Agree to collect as many fish on razorback bar again in spring 1999, but don't return those fish to the wild (hold males and females at Wahweap). Also, every Green River razorback collected through other field work and outside the spawning season also will be kept. Light-trapped larvae from razorback monitoring will be kept for future broodstock, also.

Change the text in section VI to be consistent with the revised table.

Identify options within local populations (5x5 crosses, half-siblings, etc.) that can be used before going to the next steps (nearest neighbor and Lake Mohave).

- Issues

The plan only identifies priorities for broodstock development; it also should identify priorities for augmentation (rivers/reaches) and for refugia populations. If this can be agreed upon, then incorporate Hawkins' comment on p. 11. This issue was addressed in the revised table.

When is it appropriate and what criteria will be used for moving from local populations, then to nearest neighbor populations, then to the Lake Mohave population (last sentence of first paragraph on p. 18)? This issue was generally addressed in the revised table.

The meaning of "low" priority for augmentation: does it means that stocking is not needed for that stock at this time (environmental groups' representative), or does it mean that stocking is an appropriate tool to use, but is a lower priority for this stock than for other stocks (water users' representative). Does low mean "no," "yes," or "maybe"?

Time-frame for developing broodstock and stocking fish. This issue was partially addressed in the revised table.

Raising Mohave razorbacks in upper basin facilities as back-up for stocking in Colorado and/or Green rivers in case we don't produce enough fish from local populations or nearest neighbor populations to meet our stocking goals.

Identify additional research needs based on unknowns, undetermineds, and question marks in the document.

- Approval - >Tom Czapla will revise the document and get it back to the Biology Committee by the end of next week. Approval method will be discussed tomorrow. Tom Pitts is still uncomfortable with the way we're addressing the low augmentation priorities. Leo Lentsch suggested that the Program Director's Office might prepare stocking assessments (not stocking plans) for the low priority augmentation stocks. Tom Pitts agreed this would be useful. >Henry agreed his office would do this.

b. Request by Tim Modde to stock 30 radio-tagged chemoreception fish (from 3 different chemoreception treatments) in the Green River and collect data on them with automatic data loggers. Tim said that the fish were from a lot already stocked in the Green River. The Committee agreed Tim could stock the 30 fish as he proposed, approximately another 30 will be used for Gunnison River stocking, and Tim will stock the remainder in the Green River (instead of their being sent to the San Juan River). The Biology Committee supports some funding in the future to prepare a final report on this (probably in FY 2000).

c. Review/Approval of Colorado Stocking Plan

Tom Nesler responded to the written comments from the environmental group representatives, stressing that Colorado believes stocking is needed to achieve recovery in a timely manner. Doug Osmundson stated that 20 squawfish per mile would equate to approximately 40% of the biomass which is available to them as forage, which seems very high, and also cautioned that the number of fish that can be supported per mile in the upper, colder reaches will be lower. Doug also recommended that we'll need to consider the large 1996 squawfish year class when we stock. Tom Nesler replied that he'd be willing to consider that between now and the time we have fish to stock. (However, in the mean time, the number of fish to be stocked per mile has a major impact on our facilities needs.) With regard to the recommendation on p. 8, Frank countered that he thinks we need to continue to use PIT tags to mark fish while we're still learning the most effective stocking methods. The Committee agreed that all squawfish will be pit-tagged. If pit-tags are affordable in the first couple of years for razorbacks and bonytails, then those will be used and we'll consider something like coded-wire nose tags later on. The Committee focused their review on Tables 1-5. Table 1 (razorback stocking) - in the Palisade to Stateline reach, just stock 12" fish. Table 2 (bonytail stocking) - The Committee agreed to switch the priorities and stock bonytail in the Yampa (below Warm Springs to avoid humpback concentrations) before the Colorado River (considered a lower genetic risk to humpbacks). Table 3 (squawfish stocking) - Doug questioned whether the Dolores River has sufficient biomass to justify stocking the same number of fishes as in the Colorado and Gunnison rivers. The Committee discussed the priority of stocking in the Colorado, Gunnison, and Dolores rivers and Doug's recommendations. >Tom Nesler will consider revisions to Table 3 based on the Committee's discussion and the need for caution with regard to over-saturating the habitat. >Tom will let the Committee know what he plans to do within a couple of weeks. Tables 1-3 should be footnoted with the year that stocking is expected to begin. The Committee approved the plan, pending approval of changes to Table 3 (and any related changes needed to Tables 4 and 5).

d. Propagation/Genetics decisions requiring Biology Committee input (expanded list to be provided by Tom Czapla prior to meeting)

Unequal family lots sizes - These are acceptable as long as we continue to target an overall Ne of at least 50 over the years that we stock.

Bonytail - Agreement has been reached to develop broodstock at Wahweap. >Utah needs to develop of table showing how they'll develop the broodstock.

Do we need a propagation ad hoc group? Tom Czapla suggested a group made up of our hatchery managers (Tom Pruitt, Wayne Gustafson, someone from Frank's shop, and someone from Colorado). The Committee agreed. The group's purpose is to outline how they'll implement the approved stocking plans. >Tom Czapla will provide staff support to the group. >The Program Director's office will send letters requesting participation in this group.

e. Status of hatchery facilities plan - Resolution of issues discussed at this meeting will bring this plan much closer to completion.


a. Ecological value of floodplain habitats to razorback suckers in the Upper Colorado River Basin. (Wydoski and Wick 1998) - Robert suggested that p. 43 should mention information gained by Paul Holden on Lake Mead. Any editorial comments should be sent to the author. At the top of p. 5, change "evidence that mature razorbacks will spawn" to may spawn. The Committee asked that the >author review the definitive statements in the conclusions and recommendations sections and modify them as appropriate where the data really suggest as oppose the data show. >Dick Wydoski should contact Bob Muth regarding this. The Committee approved the report with the understanding that the foregoing changes will be made.

b. Evaluation of size-dependent overwinter growth mortality of age-0 Colorado squawfish. (Converse, Lentsch and Valdez 1998) - Robert noted some minor editorial concerns and >will provide those to Utah. >The ISMP workgroup needs to consider how recommendation #1 (scale collection) will be implemented. The Committee approved the report with the understanding that the editorial corrections will be made.

c. Status of reports - Larry Crist suggested scheduling a special meeting in late September or early October to review the numerous reports that have recently been received or that will be received shortly. The Committee scheduled their next meeting for 8 a.m. on October 30 in Salt Lake City (>Kevin Christopherson will schedule a meeting room and post that information to the listserver). (NOTE: THIS MEETING DATE LIKELY WILL CHANGE.) If in reviewing the reports, Committee members believe several of these reports will need major revision or a second peer review before they can be considered by the Biology Committee, >they will let Larry Crist know before September 11 and he will cancel the meeting.

Bob Muth suggested that when "reconsider after major revision" on the peer review report evaluation forms, then the report should go back out for peer review before being sent to the Biology Committee. The Committee agreed that for consistency, Program coordinators need to be coordinating and tracking the peer-review process. Therefore, principal investigators need send their report and list of requested peer-reviewers to the appropriate Program coordinator, and the coordinator will send the report to those peer reviewers along with the report evaluation form and scope of work (as opposed to the principal investigator sending the report to the peer reviewers). The peer review comments will be returned to the coordinator who will send them to the Principal investigator. If more than two reviewers suggest that major revision is needed, then the report will be sent back out for peer review after revision. If only one reviewer suggests major revision, then it will be the coordinator's call as to whether the report will need to be sent out again for peer review. >The Program Director's Office will draft a protocol for this process and post it to the listserver for Biology Committee approval.

6. Tributary white paper - Tom Czapla distributed a request for proposals which the Committee discussed and approved. >The Program Director's office will send out the request for proposals and also post it to the listserver.

7. Discussion of proposal for oil and gas development in the Green and Duchesne River floodplains (see June 30 memo from Program Director's Office for details) - Although several Committee members had concerns about any actions in the floodplain that could impact recovery potential of the endangered fishes, the Committee did not believe they had enough information about the proposed project, nor did they think it was appropriate for them to take a position at this point.

8. Schedule next meeting - The date for the next meeting is under discussion.

Items for next meeting agenda:

Discussion of peer review (Utah)

Discussion of overall scope and objective of the ISMP program to provide guidance for future workgroup meeting which will develop detailed workplans

Pending Items

Ice study report

Haines and Modde squawfish winter survival and movement

IMO report