• Research, monitoring and evaluation: continually improving results for fish

    April 2016: Read about the recent article in the journal of the American Fisheries Society on Intensively Monitored Watersheds. The peer-reviewed research is one of many published each year in scholarly journals assessing the progress of federal agency programs to protect fish in the Columbia River Basin.

    Hundreds of projects to improve fish habitat, fish passage and fish health are underway throughout the Northwest.  Because these projects are focused on results, they all include some monitoring component to help ensure that they are achieving their intended biological objectives.  Collectively, these efforts are identified as research, monitoring and evaluation (RME).


    The agencies incorporate the findings from the RME into future projects.  In this way, the agencies continually improve their actions for fish, refining existing actions and adding new ones.  This process is known as adaptive management.  (See box, right.)


    Forums such as the Pacific Northwest Aquatic Monitoring Partnership (PNAMP) and Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority (CBFWA) help project managers and researchers coordinate their individual activities and learn from their results.



     Bureau of Reclamation stream surveys

  • Categories of research and monitoring

    RME includes three basic categories of actions:

    status monitoring, to track the health of fish and watersheds;

    action effectiveness, to help identify whether actions are achieving the targeted biological objectives for fish; and

    critical uncertainties research, to find answers to key questions that are judged to have an important impact on the success of projects and/or the health of fish. Critical uncertainties studies ad­dress major and important “unknowns” that affect policy and management decisions in fish recovery. One example is the question of whether and when it is best to transport ju­venile fish around dams rather than leaving them in-river to migrate.





    Adaptive management uses RME to guide decisions

    Adaptive management is the process of adjusting management actions and/or directions based on new information. Because adaptive management uses program results to help design and implement new actions, monitoring, evaluation and feedback are the foundation of its design. Stakeholder participation and input is a key part of the process. 



    Adaptive Management Decision Framework 

    (NOAA Fisheries; 2007)