Post Falls, ID, United States
Post Falls, ID, United States

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Barnowe-Meyer K.K.,Nez Perce Tribe | White P.J.,National Park Service | Waits L.P.,University of Idaho | Byers J.A.,University of Idaho
Biological Conservation | Year: 2013

Individual behavior promotes genetic structure within many mammalian populations, yet few studies have explored coarse- and fine-scale structure associated with migration. Fewer still have considered the conservation implications of such structure in at-risk populations. Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) inhabiting Yellowstone National Park are partially migratory, and strong adult fidelity to migratory strategy and breeding areas may promote social and genetic structure within this population. We used 18 nuclear DNA microsatellite loci and fecal samples from 47 individuals to quantify group divergence and pairwise relatedness of Yellowstone pronghorn. The genetics of this population are characterized by individual isolation by distance (P=0.009). Evidence for fine-scale social and genetic structure was strong, with mean relatedness between individuals declining rapidly with geographic distance (0-3km) within areas selected by both migrants and non-migrants. On average, females sampled within social groups were related at the level of first cousins (mean R=0.105±0.192SD). We found low differentiation of the population by migratory strategy (FST=0.019), moderate differentiation among some summer use areas (FST≥0.033), and an excess of heterozygotes within all migrant groups (FIS≤-0.017). Weak and inconsistent substructure was detected using spatial and aspatial Bayesian clustering methods. Our results are the first to document fine-scale social and genetic structure in pronghorn, most likely organized along matrilines. Access to a majority of the total summer range available to this population is maintained by social inheritance and individual fidelity to areas of use. The maintenance and reestablishment of migratory routes may therefore hinge on the retention of experienced individuals, the strength of natal and adult philopatry, and the accessibility of seasonal habitat to pioneering females. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Kohler A.E.,Shoshone Bannock Tribes | Kusnierz P.C.,Shoshone Bannock Tribes | Copeland T.,Fisheries Research | Venditti D.A.,Fisheries Research | And 6 more authors.
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences | Year: 2013

Salmon provide an important resource subsidy and linkage between marine and land-based ecosystems. This flow of energy and nutrients is not unidirectional (i.e., upstream only); in addition to passive nutrient export via stream flow, juvenile emigrants actively export nutrients from freshwater environments. In some cases, nutrient export can exceed import. We evaluated nutrient fluxes in streams across central Idaho, USA, using Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) adult escapement and juvenile production data from 1998 to 2008. We found in the majority of stream-years evaluated, adults imported more nutrients than progeny exported; however, in 3% of the years, juveniles exported more nutrients than their parents imported. On average, juvenile emigrants exported 22% ± 3% of the nitrogen and 30% ± 4% of the phosphorus their parents imported. This relationship was density-dependent and nonlinear; during periods of low adult abundance, juveniles were larger and exported up to 194% and 268% of parental nitrogen and phosphorus inputs, respectively. We highlight minimum escapement thresholds that appear to (i) maintain consistently positive net nutrient flux and (ii) reduce the average proportional rate of export across study streams. Our results suggest a state shift occurs when adult spawner abundance falls below a threshold to a point where the probability of juvenile nutrient exports exceeding adult imports becomes increasingly likely.

Hess M.A.,Columbia River Inter Tribal Fish Commission | Rabe C.D.,Nez Perce Tribe | Vogel J.L.,Nez Perce Tribe | Stephenson J.J.,Columbia River Inter Tribal Fish Commission | And 2 more authors.
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2012

While supportive breeding programmes strive to minimize negative genetic impacts to populations, case studies have found evidence for reduced fitness of artificially produced individuals when they reproduce in the wild. Pedigrees of two complete generations were tracked with molecular markers to investigate differences in reproductive success (RS) of wild and hatchery-reared Chinook salmon spawning in the natural environment to address questions regarding the demographic and genetic impacts of supplementation to a natural population. Results show a demographic boost to the population from supplementation. On average, fish taken into the hatchery produced 4.7 times more adult offspring, and 1.3 times more adult grand-offspring than naturally reproducing fish. Of the wild and hatchery fish that successfully reproduced, we found no significant differences in RS between any comparisons, but hatchery-reared males typically had lower RS values than wild males. Mean relative reproductive success (RRS) for hatchery F1 females and males was 1.11 (P = 0.84) and 0.89 (P = 0.56), respectively. RRS of hatchery-reared fish (H) that mated in the wild with either hatchery or wild-origin (W) fish was generally equivalent to W × W matings. Mean RRS of H × W and H × H matings was 1.07 (P = 0.92) and 0.94 (P = 0.95), respectively. We conclude that fish chosen for hatchery rearing did not have a detectable negative impact on the fitness of wild fish by mating with them for a single generation. Results suggest that supplementation following similar management practices (e.g. 100% local, wild-origin brood stock) can successfully boost population size with minimal impacts on the fitness of salmon in the wild. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Vonholdt B.M.,University of California at Los Angeles | Stahler D.R.,University of California at Los Angeles | Stahler D.R.,Yellowstone Center for Resources | Bangs E.E.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | And 6 more authors.
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2010

The successful re-introduction of grey wolves to the western United States is an impressive accomplishment for conservation science. However, the degree to which subpopulations are genetically structured and connected, along with the preservation of genetic variation, is an important concern for the continued viability of the metapopulation. We analysed DNA samples from 555 Northern Rocky Mountain wolves from the three recovery areas (Greater Yellowstone Area, Montana, and Idaho), including all 66 re-introduced founders, for variation in 26 microsatellite loci over the initial 10-year recovery period (1995-2004). The population maintained high levels of variation (HO = 0.64-0.72; allelic diversity k = 7.0-10.3) with low levels of inbreeding (FIS < 0.03) and throughout this period, the population expanded rapidly (n 1995 = 101; n2004 = 846). Individual-based Bayesian analyses revealed significant population genetic structure and identified three subpopulations coinciding with designated recovery areas. Population assignment and migrant detection were difficult because of the presence of related founders among different recovery areas and required a novel approach to determine genetically effective migration and admixture. However, by combining assignment tests, private alleles, sibship reconstruction, and field observations, we detected genetically effective dispersal among the three recovery areas. Successful conservation of Northern Rocky Mountain wolves will rely on management decisions that promote natural dispersal dynamics and minimize anthropogenic factors that reduce genetic connectivity. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Stenglein J.L.,University of Idaho | Waits L.P.,University of Idaho | Ausband D.E.,University of Montana | Zager P.,316 16th Street | MacK C.M.,Nez Perce Tribe
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2010

Traditional methods of monitoring gray wolves (Canis lupus) are expensive and invasive and require extensive efforts to capture individual animals. Noninvasive genetic sampling (NGS) is an alternative method that can provide data to answer management questions and complement already-existing methods. In a 2-year study, we tested this approach for Idaho gray wolves in areas of known high and low wolf density. To focus sampling efforts across a large study area and increase our chances of detecting reproductive packs, we visited 964 areas with landscape characteristics similar to known wolf rendezvous sites. We collected scat or hair samples from 20 of sites and identified 122 wolves, using 8-9 microsatellite loci. We used the minimum count of wolves to accurately detect known differences in wolf density. Maximum likelihood and Bayesian single-session population estimators performed similarly and accurately estimated the population size, compared with a radiotelemetry population estimate, in both years, and an average of 1.7 captures per individual were necessary for achieving accurate population estimates. Subsampling scenarios revealed that both scat and hair samples were important for achieving accurate population estimates, but visiting 75 and 50 of the sites still gave reasonable estimates and reduced costs. Our research provides managers with an efficient and accurate method for monitoring high-density and low-density wolf populations in remote areas. © 2010 The Wildlife Society.

Stenglein J.L.,University of Idaho | Waits L.P.,University of Idaho | Ausband D.E.,University of Montana | Zager P.,316 16th Street | MacK C.M.,Nez Perce Tribe
Journal of Mammalogy | Year: 2011

Studying the ecology and behavior of pack animals often requires that most, or all, of the pack members are sampled. A unique opportunity to sample all gray wolf (Canis lupus) pack members arises during the summer months when reproductive packs localize in rendezvous sites. We collected 155296 scat and hair samples from each of 5 wolf rendezvous sites in central Idaho to evaluate intrapack relationships and determine the efficacy of noninvasive genetic sampling (NGS) for estimating pack size and family relationships. We detected 65 wolves (520 wolves per pack) with NGS, and the pack counts from NGS were the same or higher for adults and the same or slightly lower for pups compared with the counts from observation and telemetry. The wolves in each pack were closely related to one another, and all packs included at least 2 years of offspring from the current breeding pair. Three of the packs had additional breeding adults present. In 1 pack pups were produced by a parentoffspring pair and a pair of their inbred full siblings, indicating multiple cases of inbreeding. This targeted NGS approach shows great promise for studying pack size and wolf social structure without the use of radiotelemetry or direct observations. © 2011 American Society of Mammalogists.

Ward D.L.,HDR | Clemens B.J.,Oregon State University | Clugston D.,U.S. Army | Jackson A.D.,Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation | And 3 more authors.
Fisheries | Year: 2012

The Pacific lamprey (Entosphenus tridentatus) is in decline in the Columbia River Basin, and translocating adult lamprey to bypass difficult migration corridors has been implemented since 2000. We describe and report results from two current translocation programs, provide context for use of translocation, and discuss potential benefits, risks, and uncertainties. Both translocation programs appear to have increased the number of spawning adults and the presence of larvae and juveniles; however, any subsequent increase in naturally spawning adults will require at least one, and likely more, generations to be realized. It was seen that the number of adults entering the Umatilla River increased beginning four years after the first translocations. Potential benefits of translocation programs are increased pheromone production by ammocoetes to attract adults, increased lamprey distribution and abundance in target areas, increased marine-derived nutrients, and promotion of tribal culture. Potential risks include disruption of population structure and associated genetic adaptations, disease transmission, and depletion of donor stocks.

Barnowe-Meyer K.K.,Nez Perce Tribe | White P.J.,National Park Service | Byers J.A.,University of Idaho
Western North American Naturalist | Year: 2011

Spring and summer-autumn nutrition are the prime determinants of reproductive investment in most largeherbivore populations, though winter severity is known to affect reproductive rates in some situations. To evaluate the effects of a long-term decline in winter habitat quality, a diet shift away from sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) during winter, and differential habitat selection during spring-autumn on pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) reproduction, we assessed female and fawn condition, maternal investment, and early fawn survival in migrant and nonmigrant portions of the Yellowstone pronghorn population in Montana and Wyoming during 19992001. Mean female mass at capture in late winter (46.81 kg, SE = 0.66), pregnancy rate (0.94, SE = 0.03), date of birthing (median = 1 June), litter size (1.90, SE = 0.07), ratio of litter mass to maternal mass (0.134, SE = 0.005), fawn mass at birth (3.08 kg, SE = 0.07), and fawn survival to August (0.15, SE = 0.04) were within the ranges reported for populations elsewhere, and birth dates were uncorrelated with female mass and indexed condition the preceding winter. However, fawn age at death (median = 7 days) was correlated with indexed fawn condition at birth, and indexed fawn condition and age at death were significantly greater for migrants occupying higher-elevation interior areas during the summer than for nonmigrants occupying the winter range year-round. Winter habitat conditions did not appear to substantially limit reproductive rates in this population during the study period. Our data suggest that spring and possibly summer nutrition may be higher for migrants than for nonmigrants, resulting in higher perinatal mass in migrant fawns and reduced neonatal mortality. © 2011.

News Article | October 12, 2016

Early this month, a federal judge forced discussion of a radical step to save endangered salmon: taking out four somewhat large hydroelectric dams on the Lower Snake River in Washington State. These four dams include Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite Dams. They are fairly old dams and were not optimized for salmon survival. They were built primarily for navigation of barge and various river traffic, for low-carbon power, and to lesser degrees for flood control and irrigation. And despite millions of dollars spent on fish passage improvements, adult salmon still die in the reservoirs behind the dams, especially as the water can get quite warm sitting there during the summer. In addition, the Snake River is the gateway to thousands of square miles of pristine, high-elevation habitat in Idaho, Washington and Oregon, essential for salmon survival in a warming climate. Significantly, the necessity of these dams for navigation has fallen since the region’s rail system has dramatically improved and truck transport can handle the rest. But it’s the power generation of these dams that gives us an environmental conundrum. Which is more important, salmon or carbon emissions? Ice Harbor Dam produces 1.7 billion kWhs/yr, Lower Monumental 2.3 billion kWhs/yr, Little Goose 2.2 billion kWhs/yr and Lower Granite 2.3 billion kWhs/yr, which total about 4% of the State’s electricity generation. For comparison, the nearby nuclear power plant at Columbia Generating Station produces over 9 billion kWhs/yr. Grand Coulee Dam, the largest electricity generating station in the State, and the second largest on the nation, produces 20 billion kWhs/yr. So the electricity lost by taking out these dams can be replaced by other sources, but if you care about the environment, it matters what you build to replace this power: - a single large nuclear plant like those being built in Georgia, - a small modular nuclear plant with 12 modules from companies like NuScale, - five solar plants the size of the biggest solar plant in the country, or - seven thousand MW wind turbines, as many as presently exist in the entire State. Even though a small modular nuclear plant would replace both the low-carbon power and the grid flexibility of these dams, natural gas is the obvious choice for the utility. Regulators are eager to approve gas plants, natural gas fuel costs are low, and the initial construction costs for gas are the lowest of any energy source. Most importantly though, like hydroelectric and small modular reactors, natural gas is a source that can be cycled up and down rapidly to buffer the increasing amount of renewables coming onto the grid. Dams presently provide almost all of that flexibility in the Pacific Northwest so losing these dams necessitates a replacement that can also cycle quickly. Elsewhere in the region, Washington State’s last coal plant is shutting down in 2025, which will result in almost a 50% drop in energy sector emissions overnight. But replacing these Snake River dams with natural gas would completely offset that reduction in emissions. The Bonneville Power Administration says it would replace these Lower Snake River dams with two modern gas turbines. Such a replacement would cost an additional $274 million to $372 million each year, and would increase carbon emissions by almost 3 million tons per year. U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon sided with the State of Oregon, the Nez Perce Tribe, fishing groups, and environmentalists, saying that federal plans for protecting fish were not adequate, and ordered the agencies to prepare a new plan by early 2018. Moreover, Simon stated that federal agencies had "done their utmost" to avoid even considering breaching the Snake River dams, against the court’s previous suggestions to do so. While Simon said he wouldn't dictate what options agencies should consider, he said a proper analysis under federal law "may well require" considering breaching, bypassing or removing one or more of the four Lower Snake River dams. "Scientists tell us that removing the four Lower Snake dams is the single most important action we could take to restore salmon in the entire Columbia-Snake river basin," said Sam Mace of Save Our Wild Salmon. But Terry Flores, executive director of Northwest River Partners, representing public utilities, port districts and farm groups, disagrees, saying "We think those dams need to stay in place because of the multiple benefits they provide. They provide clean, carbon-free energy. We think they're an important part of the Northwest economy and the environment.” Taking out dams might sound easy, but there are some tricky issues. We have not yet decommissioned a huge hydroelectric dam, so it’s not easy to claim it will go as planned. Many positive effects like increased quality and quantity of fish species are offset by some adverse effects like decrease in mussel and other invertebrate species downstream. The relative dominance of good and bad depends strongly on how well the plan is designed and carried out. As a geologist, I have long worried about what to do with the huge sediment wedges behind the large dams. There are many upstream and downstream issues that have to be handled very well in order not to suffocate everything downstream and to protect the habitat upstream from gullying. Big dams must be decommissioned in stages in order to allow the sediments to be slowly eroded, hoping that most will not migrate downstream for decades. An excellent discussion of dam removal can be found at the U.S. Forest Service website and by Gordon Grant. Whatever is decided about the Lower Snake River dams, we can do it right if we want. Dr. James Conca is a geochemist, an energy expert, an authority on dirty bombs, a planetary geologist and professional speaker. Follow him on Twitter @jimconca and see his book at

News Article | February 21, 2017

A clay model of the head of Kennewick Man, is shown in this undated file photo, based on a 9,300-year-old skull found in July 1996 in a park along the Columbia River in south-central Washington, is shown at Columbia Basin College, in Richland, Wash. The likeness was made by sculptor Tom McClelland and anthropologist Jim Chatters. —After a 20-year legal battle between scientists and Native American groups, the 9,000-year-old remains of the Kennewick Man have finally been laid to rest. The first part of the ancient man's remains, which turned out to be one of the oldest and most complete ever found in North America, was discovered in 1996 on the banks of the Columbia River in Kennewick, Wash. The remains were excavated for study by scientists, who thought that the Kennewick Man, as he came to be called, might be a descendant of people who migrated from Asia into North America even before the populations that were the ancestors of modern Native Americans came to the continent. Many local Native American tribes disagreed, claiming that the remains belonged to one of their ancestors. This claim launched a court battle in an attempt to get the Kennewick Man, whom the tribes refer to as the Ancient One, reburied according to their religious customs, as would be required by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Genetic tests in the early 2000s, however, led scientists to conclude that Kennewick Man was more closely related to people from Japan and Polynesia, causing the local tribes to lose federal cases in 2002 and 2004. But DNA technology has improved a great deal since then, and in 2015, a new genetic analysis found that the scientists' initial conclusions about Kennewick Man's ancestry had been incorrect. Researchers then tried to determine which Native American groups he was most similar to, as the Christian Science Monitor's Pete Spotts reported at the time: Of the small number of samples available, Kennewick Man was closer to native American groups from the Northwest. Among those, the closest link was with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, one of five tribal groups in the region involved in efforts to repatriate the remains. The researchers offer two scenarios that could have led to the genetic differences that exist between Kennewick Man and the Colville tribes. They could have split from a common group about 700 years before Kennewick Man lived. Or the Colville group could be direct descendants, with an additional influx of other genes working their way into the genomes of the Colville group during the past 8,500 years. The team's results didn't allow them to pick an out-and-out winner among these two scenarios, says Rasmus Nielsen, a geneticist from the University of California at Berkeley and another member of the team. But, he adds, there is enough evidence to suggest that the second scenario may be the right one. "We always knew the Ancient One to be Indian," Aaron Ashley, a board member of the Umatilla tribe, told The Los Angeles Times. "We have oral stories that tell of our history on this land, and we knew, at the moment of his discovery, that he was our relation." In light of the new DNA analysis, Sen. Patty Murray (D) of Washington state introduced a bill in 2015 to repatriate the remains. The bill was signed into law by then-President Barack Obama. On Saturday, more than 200 members of the Umatilla, Yakama Nation, Nez Perce Tribe, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, and the Wanapum Band of Indians, met at a secret burial location on the Columbia Plateau, according to The Seattle Times. The Ancient One was laid to rest with songs "very close" to what would have been sung during Kennewick Man's time, Chuck Sams, the communications director for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, told the Times. "A wrong had finally been righted," Mr. Sams told the Seattle Times. He also pointed out that over 100,000 sets of Native American remains still belong to collections across the United States. In the 20 years since the skeleton was discovered, a great deal has been learned about the Kennewick Man. Researchers determined that he weighed 163 pounds at the time of his death, and stood approximately 5 feet, 7 inches tall. He was right-handed, and appeared to have subsisted on a diet of fish or marine mammals, though he hunted various land animals as well. Before his death, at about age 40, there is evidence that Kennewick Man survived two major injuries, including a projectile point embedded in his hip bone. And for now, it seems, his story has come to a close. "The return of our ancestor to Mother Earth is a blessing for all Yakama people," reads a statement from the Yakama Nation. "The Ancient One (also known as the 'Kennewick Man') may now finally find peace, and we, his relatives, will equally feel content knowing that this work has been completed on his behalf."

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