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Review of the Draft Research and Restoration Plan for Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon
variations in the abundance of salmon. This should include coverage of such items as the stock-recruit relationship, the use of the stock-recruit relationship as the foundation for discovering environmental correlates of mortality and other dynamic rates, the value of separating marine and freshwater sources of mortality, using the spatial scale of analysis as a variable in meta-analyses to discover density-dependent and density-independent environmental correlates of mortality, discussion of the roles of density-dependent and density-independent mortality in generating stability and variability in salmon abundance, and examples of processes that might act on each life stage to regulate population size and produce variability in abundance.
Perhaps the biggest difficulty the committee had with the draft plan is the lack of clear connections between the front sections (the setting forth of principles, criteria, and the intellectual model that the plan is based on) and the back sections (the areas that the requests for proposals [RFPs] will focus on). In other words, the plan does not transparently describe the process that the AYK SSI used to get from the principles to the research questions. In the next chapter, this report provides an example of how such a connection might be made, focusing on smolt survival.
Finally, several sections lack sufficient specificity to be easily understood. One important example is the relationship between the SSI’s research program and the research programs of other organizations. Evidently, the SSI has a vision of how this relationship should evolve. In talking to the authors of the draft plan, it is clear that they have thought at considerable length about how their vision should be implemented. However, it is unclear from the plan itself whether, for example, the SSI will support research that also is being conducted by other programs (for example, ADF&G) or whether its support will be focused elsewhere, relying on those programs to fill in the gaps.
Another related example concerns the relatively modest amount of money that is available to support the AYK SSI research and restoration plan. The SSI is obviously well aware of that limitation, but just how the program will adapt to it is not clear. The goal of the plan is, “by 2012, assemble existing information, gain new information and improve techniques for understanding the trends and causes of variation in salmon abundance and human use of salmon that support sustainable use and restoration through a collaborative and inclusive process.” The year 2012 is only 7 years away from the date of the draft plan (2005), and many of the processes that influence salmon abundance operate at periods much