ISTM Fish Monitoring Component

Project Description

The primary purpose of the ISTM project is to improve integration of existing and new efforts that are intended to address status and trend monitoring needs. As a demonstration effort, it focuses on processes and tools for the development and management of integrated regional strategic action plans or roadmaps for monitoring the status and trends of aquatic habitat, watershed health, and salmon populations (including steelhead). The Lower Columbia River (LCR) area has been chosen for this demonstration project because it is representative of the challenges faced when integrating monitoring across multiple Evolutionary Significant Units (ESU) and Distinct Populations Segments (DPS), between the states of Oregon and Washington, including the operation of the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) and Bonneville Dam, and federal and tribal management through U.S. v. Oregon and the Pacific Salmon Treaty. Although numerous entities are involved in monitoring in the LCR, the existing monitoring efforts are not well coordinated, and often lack the spatial coverage, certainty, or species coverage necessary to answer questions related to status and trends of fish populations across the ESU/DPS.

The specific goal of the Fish Monitoring component of the ISTM project is to support coordination of Viable Salmonid Population (VSP) monitoring programs to addresses key regional (priority) monitoring questions and develops study designs of sufficient quality and quantity to determine status and trend of LCR salmon and steelhead. This will provide entities tasked with monitoring salmon and steelhead populations in the Pacific Northwest with a roadmap of the steps needed to develop an integrated, scientifically sound monitoring program that meets the needs of regional decision-makers and managers. We will apply this approach to develop a specific monitoring plan for ESA listed salmon and steelhead populations in the LCR, concentrating on the monitoring of VSP parameters. VSP monitoring utilizes four primary metrics to assess salmon status: abundance, spatial structure, diversity, and productivity. The first three metrics are independent metrics to categorize the abundance of salmon, their distribution, and genetic and life history diversity. The final metric, productivity, is a time series or density dependent cohort analysis based on the abundance and diversity metrics.

We anticipate this project will ultimately lead to a transparent, scientifically credible, and cost-effective fish monitoring program in the LCR, which can be used as a model for the remainder of the Columbia Basin. The following five objectives will be accomplished to meet these goals:
1. Identify and prioritize management decisions, questions, and objectives.
2. Evaluate the extent to which existing programs align with these management decisions, questions, and objectives.
3. Identify the most appropriate monitoring design(s) to inform priority management decisions, questions, and objectives.
4. Use trade-off analysis to develop specific recommendations for monitoring based on outcomes of objectives 1-3.
5. Recommend implementation and reporting mechanisms.

Project Team

This project is lead by Jeff Rodgers (ODFW), Dan Rawding (WDFW), and Bernadette Graham-Hudson (LCFRB), with assistance from Cedric Cooney (ODFW) and Brodie Cox (WDFW). Project management is provided by Jen Bayer (PNAMP/USGS). Funding has been provided by the Bonneville Power Administration and also other partners via in kind contributions of staff time.


New Publication Resulting from the ISTM Fish Project

September 30, 2015 - 10:30am

Although the ISTM Fish project is still looking for another pilot, the team working on the initial demonstration project is still working to learn and share their results. As a component of Objective 4 of the LCR ISTM Demonstration Project, Dan Rawding and Bryce Glaser (WDFW) worked with NOAA Fisheries NWFSC staff Martin Liermann and George Pess to investigate the relative performance of five approaches for estimating total redds. These include standard design-based estimators applied to simple random, spatially balanced, and stratified sampling as well as regression (model-assisted) estimators based on a census of the entire basin conducted close to the peak occurrence of redds. Comparison of the estimators was based on simulations using known redd locations for three populations representing two species, each with multiple years of data. In their paper, published by CJFAS, they show how the performance of particular approaches can be anticipated using sampling theory and knowledge of the spatial distribution of redds, and develop this into guidance for those implementing redd sampling designs in the many small Pacific Northwest basins.

Check out this great paper here: Contact authors Martin Liermann ( and Dan Rawding ( with questions.

ISTM Fish Workgroup Completes Objective 2 and Presents New Monitoring Evaluation Tools

September 30, 2015 - 10:27am

The ISTM Fish Component Work group has completed Objectives 1 and 2. Final reports are now available, including a third report which focuses on data management aspects of the project. We are now exploring opportunities to share the ISTM Fish approach prioritization and evaluation of monitoring (and the resulting new tools) with interested fisheries organizations and collaborative partnerships throughout the PNW. The overall goal of the ISTM Fish project is to facilitate development of a strong reliable network of VSP monitoring efforts for salmon and steelhead that meet regional VSP data requirements.

2013 ISTM Fish Fact Sheet: Progress and Next Steps

2013: ISTM Fish Component Objective 2 Report: "Evaluation of the Alignment of Lower Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Monitoring Program with Management Decisions, Questions, and Objectives" Rawding, D., and Rodgers, J. PNAMP 2012-001.

2012: ISTM Fish Data Management Report: "Evaluation of the Data Collection, Storage, and Management for the Lower Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Monitoring Program". Rawding, D., Rodgers, J., Cox, B., Cooney, C., Karnowski, M., Woodard, R. and Warren, D. PNAMP 2012-002.

2010: ISTM Fish Component Objective 1 Report: “Identification and Prioritization of Management Decisions, Questions, and Objectives for Lower Columbia River Integrated Status and Trend Salmon and Steelhead Monitoring”. Rawding, D., Rodgers, J., Graham Hudson, B. PNAMP 2010-004.

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