Missouri River Independent Advisory Panel

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

Current Independent Science Advisory Panel Members

  • Steven R. Chipps, Ph.D. - Sturgeon Biology/Ecology
  • Steve Dinsmore, Ph.D. – Least Tern/Piping Plover
  • Melinda Daniels, Ph.D. – Large River Hydrology/Geomorphology
  • John Loomis, Ph.D. – Resource Economy/Sociology
  • Dennis Murphy, Ph.D. – Large River Ecology/Conservation Biology
  • John Norder, Ph.D. – Indigenous Cultural and Natural Resources Management
  • William Warren-Hicks, Ph.D. - Quantitative Ecology/Statistical Methods

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 two- or three-year term, renewable for up to three years upon review by the TPSN, with input from the Lead Agencies and MRRIC.

Areas of Expertise

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

  1. Large River Ecology/Conservation Biology. Expertise in some or all of the following: energy-flow dynamics; flora and fauna community assemblages (including aquatic invertebrates); water quality (including contaminants), river-floodplain interactions; knowledge of bio-physical drivers and processes, threats to biodiversity and preserving the biologic and genetic diversity of native biota with an emphasis on large river organisms; conservation, restoration and recovery at the species, community and ecosystem scales.
  2. Large River Hydrology/Geomorphology. Expertise in the physical dynamics and processes of large rivers and associated landforms; hydrology, eco-hydraulics, sediment dynamics/transport, and hydrologic-hydraulic modeling.
  3. Sturgeon Biology/Ecology. Expertise in Scaphirhynchus sturgeon population dynamics and/or other North American riverine sturgeons; ecological threats to sturgeons; sturgeon habitats and their use; current understanding of life-history needs (including age-0); population augmentation, genetic integrity and status of populations and productivity within the pallid sturgeon’s range.
  4. Quantitative Ecology/Statistical Methods. Expertise in biostatistical methods, experimental design, decision analysis, analytical tools, and the interpretation of ecological data sets; mathematical modeling; presentation of complex analyses for decision makers.
  5. Resource Economy/Sociology. Expertise in some or all of the following: monetizing goods and services, including social and ecosystem values, understanding quantitative tools for comparing diverse interests (including, but not limited to: agriculture, navigation, hydropower production, municipal and industrial water uses, Tribal concerns, outdoor recreation, etc.) and alternatives to meet those interests, and the study of social behaviors in relation to complex river systems.
  6. Tribal Cultural Knowledge. Expertise in Traditional Cultural Properties (TCPs), traditional ecological knowledge, cultural resource management, and natural resource management, specifically water.
  7. Least Tern / Piping Plover Expertise. Expertise in least tern and piping plover population dynamics (including source-sink metapopulations); 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. (If one person does not embody expertise related to both least terns and piping plover, the plover expert should be included in the standing panel and the least tern expert on the ad hoc panel.)

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 Lead Agencies 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 Evaluation of Draft 2019 ESA Adaptive Management Compliance Report

The ISAP was tasked with evaluating the draft 2019 ESA Adaptive Management Compliance Report for Endangered Species Act Compliance, Adaptive Management Implementation, and Fish and Wildlife Mitigation (AMCR) in a memo from the Corps on 7 February 2020. This Evaluation responds to questions about the draft AMCR posed to the ISAP at the Adaptive Management workshop held in Nebraska City, NE on March 10-13, 2020.

ISAP Evaluation of Draft Piping Plover Monitoring Plan Documents_slides

On a January 23rd, 2020 Bird Work Group Call, ISAP presented and discussed its findings on Draft Piping Plover Monitoring Plan documents. These slides accompanied the ISAP’s presentation.

ISAP Evaluation of Draft Revised Appendix D PSPAP Monitoring Plan_103020

The ISAP conducted a technical evaluation of the Draft Revised Appendix D (Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment Program (PSPAP)) of the Science and Adaptive Management Plan (SAMP) under the Missouri River Recovery Program. The ISAP presented its findings to MRRIC for discussion and questions on November 12, 2020. This document contains the findings from that evaluation.

ISAP Evaluation of Draft WRDA IRC Report to Congress 051619

ISAP reviewed a draft report to Congress from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on “the impacts of interception-rearing complex construction on the navigation, flooding control, and other authorized purposes set forth in the Missouri River Master Manual, and on the population recovery of the pallid sturgeon” as mandated in Section 1226 of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (WRDA). This review was presented to MRRIC and discussed in May 2019.

ISAP Evaluation of Fort Peck AM Framework

The ISAP reviewed the Draft Ft. Peck Adaptive Management Framework to see how the Draft Framework addresses fish-specific issues.

ISAP Evaluation of PSPAP Monitoring Plan 111120_slides

This presentation accompanied the ISAP’s Draft Revised Appendix D (Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment Program (PSPAP)) of the Science and Adaptive Management Plan (SAMP) under the Missouri River Recovery Program. The evaluation and accompanying presentation were presented to MRRIC and discussed on November 12, 2020.

ISAP Review of Draft 2018 MRRP AM Compliance Report 030619

This document is the ISAP’s review of the Missouri River Recovery Program 2018 Compliance Report (Draft), prepared largely by the Missouri River Recovery Program (MRRP) Adaptive Management (AM) Technical Team, dated January 2019. The intent of this review is to help the AM process evolve to better synthesize and focus the results of scientifically defensible investigations, modeling, and monitoring for MRRP AM decision making needs.

ISAP_2019AMCR_PPT FINAL_slides

This PowerPoint presentation accompanied the discussion of the ISAP’s evaluation of the Draft Adaptive Management Compliance Report, which took place on March 24, 2020.

ISAP_presentation_MRRIC_KC_2018_version_11_12_18

This presentation covers ISAP’s observations for MRRIC on pallid sturgeon and piping plover species monitoring plans. It was given at the November 2018 Fall Science Meeting in Kansas City, Missouri.

ISAP-BonneauBriefingLeter_12Jan2021.pdf

Memo from ISAP members to Joseph Bonneau (USACE) summarizing key takeaways from a call between ISAP members and the Pallid Sturgeon Technical Team. The memo also identifies topics and possible next steps needed to continue working on identified issues.

ISAPFortPeckAMFrameworkReview_Final_09_17_2019_slides

This presentation covers the ISAP’s evaluation of the Ft. Peck Adaptive Management Framework for the Upper Missouri River Pallid Sturgeon. It was given to the Joint Fish / Human Considerations Work Group on September 18, 2019.

Memo to Corps re: Plover Science (8 Nov 2020)

The ISAP produced this memo addressed to key Missouri River Recovery Plan science and management leaders, describing issues related to past and ongoing discussions of the Bird Work Group/Team and MRRIC generally. The memo was drafted in response to a Piping Plover Fall Science Meeting session held on November 4, 2020.

Pre-meeting Memo from ISAP to TT (12-14-20)

This memo is from a subgroup of the ISAP to the Pallid Sturgeon Technical Team (TT) regarding ISAP thoughts on several Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment Program (PSPAP) sampling design issues. The document’s intent is to prompt in-depth discussion of those issues amongst the ISAP and TT following their November 12, 2020 discussion of the ISAP’s PSPAP review.

Scientist-to-Scientist Discussion of the Bayesian Linked Population Model

Documentation of a discussion amongst ISAP members about the Bayesian Linked Population Model update presented by Mike Colvin and Sara Reynolds of Mississippi State University at the November 4, 2020 Fall Science Meeting. The objective of this document is to provide ISAP members with additional insight into the mathematics of the Bayesian Linked Population Model, including data inputs, state of development, and outputs that aid in adaptive management.

ISAP Observation for MRRIC on Monitoring Plans and Fall Science Meeting – Issued November 27, 2018

At the November 2018 Plenary, ISAP provided a summary of feedback to MRRIC on the panel’s assessment of the fish monitoring plans status, the bird monitoring workshop held in early September, and the bird and fish Fall Science Meeting webinars.

ISAP Fish Monitoring Feedback Presentation – Issued August 17, 2019

At the Fish Monitoring Webinar on August 20, 2018, the ISAP presented this summary of feedback to MRRIC based on the panel’s review and discussion of the SAMP Appendix E and Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment Program v. 2.0 (which were presented by USACE and USFWS to MRRIC at the January 9, 2018 Fish Monitoring Webinar).

ISAP Review of the MRRP Biological Assessment and Draft Biological Opinion – Issued March 27, 2018

Addendum 1: ISAP Comments on Draft Biological Opinion – Issued March 22, 2018

Addendum 2 to the ISAP Review of MRRMP Draft Biological Opinion – Issued April 4, 2018

ISAP reviewed the Draft Biological Opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (dated February 08, 2018). ISAP presented its findings and recommendations at the March 2018 Plenary in the form of a presentation (above) and Addendum 1 (above). ISAP provided further findings and recommendations on the Draft Biological Opinion in Addendum 2 (above).

Preliminary review of Proposed Monitoring Approaches in Support of Adaptive Management of Listed Species – Issued November 1, 2017

At the October/November 2017 Plenary meeting, ISAP presented its initial perceptions and recommendations (above) on the following: “Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment Program V. 2.0 (Oct. 10, 2017)”, “Overview of Effectiveness Monitoring of Management Actions in support of the Science and Adaptive Management Plan for the Missouri River Recovery Program (Oct. 8, 2017)”, “Appendix E., Attachment E.1: Implementation and Monitoring of Interception and Rearing Complexes RC Construction and Monitoring (Oct. 8, 2017)”, “Appendix E., Attachment E.2 – Implementation and Monitoring of Modifications to Existing Shallow Water Habitat Projects (Sep. 29, 2017)” , and “Process and Progress for Assessing and Revising Bid Population and Habitat Monitoring Plans (Oct. 10, 2017)”. Note: Appendix E., Attachments E.1 and E.2 were provided as supplementary material, but were not necessary for the review and discussion by ISAP.

Final Report of the Independent External Peer Review of the Draft Missouri River Recovery Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement – Issued June 21, 2017

ISAP, along with the ISETR panel, reviewed the draft environmental impact statement for the Missouri River Recovery Management Plan (MRRMP-DEIS) and provided feedback and observations, guided partially by sets of questions submitted by USACE and MRRIC.

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 1/25/2021.