Missouri River Independent Advisory Panels

Independent Science Advisory Panelists, Reports, Advice, Recommendations, and Agency Responses

Current Independent Science Advisory Panel Members

  • Steven M. Bartell, Ph.D. – Quantitative Ecologist/Statistician
  • Adrian H. Farmer, Ph.D. – Least Tern/Piping Plover Specialist
  • William L. Graf, Ph.D. – River Hydrologist/Geomorphologist
  • Christopher S. Guy, Ph.D. – Sturgeon Specialist
  • Gary Lamberti, Ph.D. – Aquatic/Riverine Ecologist
  • Dennis D. Murphy, Ph.D. – Conservation Biologist

To review biographical information on the panelists, click here.

How Members are Selected

When selecting science advisors, the TPSN complies with the National Academy of Science’s “Policy and Procedures on Committee Composition and Balance and Conflicts of Interest for Committees Used in the Development of Reports” (2003) and the Office of Management and Budget’s “Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review” (2005). The TPSN strives to establish a panel of science advisors who demonstrate:

  1. Expertise. Varied knowledge, experience and skill.
  2. Balance. A diversity of scientific perspectives.
  3. No Conflict of Interest. No financial or other interest that impairs the panel’s objectivity or gives an unfair competitive advantage to a person or organization.

Standing panel members are expected to commit to a three-year term, renewable upon review by the TPSN, and contingent on available funding.

Areas of Expertise

The general disciplines of expertise on the standing panel include the following areas of science:

  1. Aquatic/Riverine Ecologist: Expertise in energy flow dynamics; flora and fauna community assemblages; river/floodplain dynamics; and knowledge of biological/physical drivers and processes.
  2. River Hydrologist/Geomorphologist: Expertise in dynamics of river and associated landforms; sediment dynamics/transport; large dryland river physical processes; and flow modeling.
  3. Least Tern/Piping Plover Specialist: Ornithological expertise in least tern and piping plover population dynamics; ecological threats; habitat, energy, and security requirements; and status of population and productivity within the interior population of least tern and Great Plains population of piping plovers.
  4. Sturgeon Specialist: Ichthyologic expertise in Scaphirhynchus sturgeon population dynamics; ecological threats; habitat; food/forage; and cover/predation requirements; knowledge of the current understanding of life history needs; and status of population and productivity within the pallid sturgeon range.
  5. Quantitative Ecologist/Statistician: Expertise in biostatistical methods, analytical tools, and the interpretation of ecological data sets; mathematical modeling; and presentation of complex analysis.
  6. Conservation Biologist: Expertise in ecological community interactions with emphasis on large river form and function; restoration and recovery at the population/ landscape scale.

Ad hoc specialists may be added to the standing panel, as needed, to provide expertise not represented by standing panel members for a particular topic. These individuals would serve only for the duration of the topical study for which they are selected. The type of expertise needed may be identified by the Corps or MRRIC as they develop questions to be considered by the standing panel, or by the standing panel itself if it convenes around a topic and determines additional expertise is needed.

Independent Science Advisory Panel Reports, Advice, Recommendations and Agency Responses

Review Topics, Advice, Reports:

ISAP Preliminary Observations on “Bird Targets” White Paper

ISAP read and briefly discussed the white paper “Establishing piping plover and least tern targets for development of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Missouri River Recovery Management Plan” issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (dated 1 October 2016) and provided observations and questions.

Comments on Draft Pallid Sturgeon Condition Assessment – Issued October 12, 2016

This memo builds on and reemphasizes comments provided by ISAP during the Pallid Health Assessment Report Webinar on September 29, 2016. It reflects ISAP thoughts subsequent to webinar discussion and an ISAP phone discussion October 6. These comments address both the assessment and the “new information” process.

Evaluation of the Missouri River Recovery Management Plan (MRRMP) – Issued September 1, 2016

At the request of MRRIC, the panel evaluated the “Developmental Draft Version 5 Science and Adaptive Management Plan” (hereafter the AMP) dated May 2016, including its extensive appendices and attachments. These documents describe the most recent iteration of an evolving AMP, which along with an accompanying Environmental Impact Statement, will be an integral part of the Missouri River Recovery Management Plan (MRRMP) for management of three listed species, the piping plover, least tern, and pallid sturgeon, under the Endangered Species Act. The charge to the panel was developed by the MRRIC Science and Adaptive Management (SAM) Work Group.

Presentation on Draft Evaluation of Adaptive Management Plan v5

The panel presented their draft evaluation of Adaptive Management Plan version 5 at the August 2016 MRRIC plenary meeting.

Evaluation of Adaptive Management (AM) Governance in Draft AM Plan v4 – Issued March 11, 2016

ISAP responded to questions from the AM Ad Hoc Group seeking thoughts from the panel regarding adaptive governance.

Evaluation of Missouri River Recovery Management Plan (MRRMP) Adaptive Management (AM) Plan v3 and Pallid Level 3 Actions – Issued November 2015

The panel was asked by MRRIC to review and respond to questions regarding two documents – Adaptive Management Plan version 3 and a document presenting the proposed Pallid Sturgeon Level 3 management actions for the Lower Missouri River.

Presentation of ISAP Evaluation of Missouri River Recovery Management Plan (MRRMP) Adaptive Management (AM) Plan v3 and Pallid Level 3 Actions

The ISAP panel presented on their evaluation (above) of the MRRMP Plan v3 and Pallid Level 3 actions to the MRRIC committee at its plenary in November 2015.

Initial Thoughts on Draft Science and Adaptive Management Plan MRAM_v3_Draft_081215

The panel provided initial thoughts on the Draft Science and Adaptive Management Plan MRAM_v3_Draft_081215 at the August 2015 MRRIC plenary.

Evaluation of Science Associated with the Draft Bird AM Cycle Example – Issued June 29, 2015

ISAP evaluated the Bird AM Cycle Example (May 11, 2015), answering questions from the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee’s (MRRIC) Strategic Programmatic Assessment (SPA) Task Group entitled, “Questions for ISAP v4”.

Presentation on Preliminary Evaluation Response to Draft Lower Missouri River Pallid Alternative Implementation Framework

The ISAP panel presented their preliminary evaluation on the Draft Lower Missouri River Pallid Alternative Implementation Framework to MRRIC at its May 2015 plenary meeting.

Evaluation of Effects Analysis Draft Interim Reports (EA #6) Issued January 16, 2015

In October 2014 USACE and MRRIC asked the Independent Science Advisory Panel to review the Effects Analysis Teams’ draft interim reports also referred to as EA #6. The specific review questions posed to the ISAP are available here.

Evaluation of EA2b – Hypotheses for emergent sandbar habitat, piping plovers, and least terns and Development of Working Hypotheses Linking Management of the Missouri River to Pallid Sturgeon Population Dynamics – Final – Issued July 24, 2014

The Independent Science Advisory Panel (ISAP) reviews and evaluates the working hypothesis. On July 3, 2014 USACE provided this response.

Evaluation of EA2a – Compile and assess existing data and modeling resources that can be applied to the Effects Analysis – Final – Issued May 30, 2014

Here the Independent Science Advisory Panel (ISAP) reviews and evaluates three reports from the EA teams that summarize their efforts to “compile and assess existing data and modeling resources that can be applied to the [effects] analyses.” The basis for our assessment includes goals stated in the Effects Analysis Guidance Document and a series of questions formulated by the Adaptive Management Integration Team and the Missouri Recovery Implementation Committee’s (MRRIC’s) Science and Adaptive Management (SAM) working group.

On July 3, 2014, USACE provided a response to the ISAP regarding its review. That response is available here.

Evaluation of Draft Species Objectives and Draft Conceptual Ecological Models (CEMs) – Issued February 26, 2014

The MRRIC Independent Science Advisory Panel (ISAP) was tasked to consider a set of nine questions regarding two deliverables to the Missouri River recovery planning process – draft species objectives statements, and draft conceptual ecological models (CEMs) for the three listed species, including narrative texts and graphical presentations. These deliverables are referred to in the Critical Engagement Points document as Effects Analysis Deliverable #1. The Evaluation that follows is the final report of Task 1a of the TPSN/ISAP Call Order #1. It incorporates the results of discussion of a February 3 draft with the EA Team and SPA on February 10, 2014.

Thoughts Lessons Learned Regarding Adaptive Management – issued December 2, 2013

Based on participation in the Adaptive Management Lessons Learned Webinar and the MRRIC November meeting in Omaha, the ISAP offers the following suggestions to facilitate continued progress in the development of an adaptive management plan. The Panel seeks no formal immediate response to the following discussion. There should be opportunity for further discussion at several points in anticipated engagements.

Initial Response to 17 July 2013 Missouri River Management Plan Project Overview and Schedule – Issued July 22, 2013

This memorandum describes the ISAP review of the Missouri River Management Plan Project Overview and Schedule, Draft Preliminary Version for SPA and ISAP Review dated 17 July 2013.

A note on the relationship between the identification of species objectives and the development of the MRRP effects analysis – Issued June 27, 2013

Following a June 25, 2013 conference call with the MRRIC Strategic Programmatic Assessment (SPA) Task Group and the ISAP, the ISAP issued a clarification memo regarding its statements related to the appropriate timing and sequencing of tasks in support of adaptive Management under the Missouri River Recovery Program.

Observations on Setting Species Goals and Objectives for the Missouri River Recovery Program – Issued June 10, 2013

In this memorandum the ISAP provides advice regarding setting species goals and objectives.

Observations regarding the draft “Effects Analysis Proposal Request,” second version dated 7 June 2013 - Issued June 7, 2013

The ISAP offers here several observations on the second draft “Effects Analysis Proposal Request” dated and received 7 June, 2013, a previous version of which the panel commented on in a memo dated 14 May 2013. This second draft incorporates much feedback and has evolved into a description of the broader effects analysis task, including work to be performed by the Corps and Service in addition to assistance from outside experts, on the path to implementing adaptive management under the Missouri River Recovery Program.

A preliminary response to draft “species objectives” for pallid sturgeon, least tern, and piping plover provided by FWS, dated 3 April 2013 – Issued May 16, 2013

In this memorandum the ISAP notes that setting species objectives is an essential element in the step-down process that supports adaptive management. Importantly, data and analyses that have been generated from research and monitoring by the MRRP, along with information from other studies of the three species, can be used to develop initial estimates of species objectives.

Thoughts regarding the draft “Effects Analysis Proposal Request,” version dated 1 April 2013 – Issued May 14, 2013

In this memorandum the ISAP provides advice regarding the development of an RFP for conducting an effects analysis.

ISAP Response letter pallid CEM_final – Issued January 23, 2013

This document is the Independent Science Advisory Panel’s response to the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee (MRRIC) and USACE questions regarding the pallid sturgeon conceptual ecological model (CEM) presented on December 6, 2012. This document is part of the panel’s current task to the review and provide independent scientific advice on draft products regarding implementation of the ISAP recommendations/MRRIC proposed actions (including pallid sturgeon, least tern, and piping plover conceptual ecological models (CEMs)) as they are developed by MRRIC, the USACE, and the USFWS. This activity is authorized through September 30, 2013.

ISAP Response to MRRIC SPA Task Group Clarification Questions – Issued April 12, 2012

On March 22, 2012 the MRRIC Strategic Programmatic Assessment (SPA) Task Group sent the ISAP a set of clarification questions stemming from the ISAP final report on Spring Pulse and Adaptive Management.

ISAP Response to MRRIC SAM Work Group Questions Regarding Spring Pulse and Adaptive Management Report – Issued December 12, 2011

Co-Chair Dr. Martin Doyle provided responses to clarification questions from the MRRIC Science and Adaptive Management (SAM) work group regarding the ISAP Final Report on Spring Pulse and Adaptive Management.

Missouri River ISAP Final Report Charge 1 – Spring Pulse and Adaptive Management - Issued November 30, 2011

This report to the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee (MRRIC) assesses the efficacy of managed spring pulse releases from Gavins Point Dam on the Missouri River in achieving expected outcomes for three listed species, pallid sturgeon, least tern, and piping plover, prescribed in Biological Opinions issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2000 and 2003. The assessment is based on review and interpretation of available science and other information. The Independent Science Advisory Panel (ISAP), tasked with this review by the MRRIC, considered thousands of pages of peer-reviewed literature and agency reports, material presented to it in topical presentations and webinars, and information from agency personnel, scientists, and MRRIC committee members.

The findings presented here reflect consensus views of the panel members. The ISAP provides scientifically informed answers to discrete charge questions from the MRRIC that are intended to help improve management decisions. The ISAP largely constrained its analysis and review to the managed spring-pulse action, acknowledging that this conservation action interacts strongly with naturally occurring climatic phenomena and other management actions, including mechanical habitat creation efforts.

Spring Pulse and Adaptive Management Charge

To review and provide recommendations to the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee (MRRIC) on the expected outcomes for the Missouri River Gavins Point Dam spring pulse management action. To review the metrics, monitoring, investigations, and management actions and provide recommendations on their potential refinement (or any other appropriate solutions). In addition, the results of the review are intended to be used in developing an adaptive management plan. The charge to the ISAP is described here.

Reference Documents Provided for the Spring Pulse and Adaptive Management Review:

The following bibliography identifies the materials made available to the ISAP for its first review. (Website address to publications are provided where available.)

Bibliography for Current Topic

Spring Pulse and Adaptive Management Webinars

In March, April, and May 2011 several webinar presentations regarding Topic 1: Spring Pulse and Adaptive Management were held for the members of the Independent Science Advisory Panel to gather information from experts in the topic areas. These presentations were recorded and are now available for the public at the link above.

This page was last updated 2/21/2017.