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Title: An expert panel approach to assessing potential effects of bull trout reintroduction on federally listed salmonids in the Clackamas River, Oregon

Author: Marcot, Bruce G.; Allen, Chris S.; Morey, Steve; Shively, Dan; White, Rollie.

Date: 2012

Source: North American Journal of Fisheries Management. 32: 450-465

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: The bull trout Salvelinus confluentus is an apex predator in native fish communities in the western USA and is listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). Restoration of this species has raised concerns over its potential predatory impacts on native fish fauna. We held a five-person expert panel to help determine potential impacts of reintroducing bull trout into the Clackamas River, northwest Oregon, on the viability of four anadromous salmonid populations that are listed as threatened under the ESA: spring and fall Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, coho salmon O. kisutch, and winter steelhead O. mykiss. The panel session was rigorously structured and used a modified Delphi process with structured expert elicitation, disclosure, discussion, and brainstorming. Each panelist distributed 100 score points among seven categories of potential bull trout impact (from no impact to very high impact) on extinction probabilities for the anadromous salmonids. Results were provided by individual panelists rather than as a group consensus and were summarized as means and variations in scores to express the panelists' individual uncertainty, variability among the panelists, and expected differences among the affected salmonids. Score results suggested that panelists viewed the potential impact of bull trout as very low or moderately low for spring Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and winter steelhead and mostly none to very low for fall Chinook salmon. Panelists also provided 19 possible monitoring activities and 21 possible management actions for assessing potential impacts and taking remedial action if bull trout are found to have unacceptable adverse effects. Results of the panel were used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help craft and execute a plan to reintroduce bull trout into the Clackamas River system under the ESA. This rigorous expert panel process can be used for a wide range of evaluations in situations where empirical data are sparse or ecological interactions are too complex for explicit analytic solution.

Keywords: restoration, multi-species interactions, risk assessment, threatened and endangered species

Publication Notes:

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

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Marcot, Bruce G.; Allen, Chris S.; Morey, Steve; Shively, Dan; White, Rollie. 2012. An expert panel approach to assessing potential effects of bull trout reintroduction on federally listed salmonids in the Clackamas River, Oregon. North American Journal of Fisheries Management. 32: 450-465.

 


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