Endangered Species
Mountain-Prairie Region
PEER REVIEW

About the Document:

Pending Action:  Colorado River Cutthroat Trout 12-Month Finding

Document to be Reviewed:  Hirsch, C.L., S. E. Albeke, and T. P. Nesler.  2006.  Range-wide status of Colorado River cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki pleuriticus): 2005.  Colorado River cutthroat trout Conservation Team Report.  Colorado Division of Wildlife, Fort Collins

Document Description:  An assessment of Colorado River cutthroat trout throughout their entire range including an analysis of historic range, current distribution, genetic status, population size and general population health.

Estimated Peer Review Timeline:

Peer review initiated by:  November 2006

Peer review to be completed by:  January 8, 2007

About the Peer Review Process: 

In accordance with the peer review requirements of the Office of Management and Budget's Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review, scientific information influential to a final agency action shall be peer reviewed.  This will ensure and maximize the quality of the information disseminated by the agency.  In order to comply with this policy and ensure that we consider the best scientific and commercial information available, as required by the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, it is sometimes necessary to initiate independent peer reviews of key information likely to be important to an upcoming decision.  Thus, as we prepare our 12-month status review for the Colorado River cutthroat trout, we propose to initiate an independent scientific review of the Hirsch et al. 2006 Report.

The Service, in coordination with States, will select independent scientific peer reviewers considering the following criteria: 

·          Expertise:  The reviewer should have knowledge, experience, and skills in one or more of the following areas:  cutthroat trout biology; population dynamics, genetics and extinction risk analysis.

·         Independence:  The reviewer should not be employed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Academic and consulting scientists should have sufficient independence from the Service or Department if the government supports their work.

·         Objectivity:  The reviewer should be recognized by his or her peers as being objective, open‑minded, and thoughtful.  In addition, the reviewer should be comfortable sharing his or her knowledge and perspectives and openly identifying his or her knowledge gaps. 

·         Advocacy:  The reviewer should not be known or recognized for an affiliation with an advocacy position regarding the protection of this species under the Endangered Species Act.

·         Conflict of Interest:  The reviewer should not have any financial or other interest that conflicts or that could impair his or her objectivity or create an unfair competitive advantage.  If an otherwise qualified reviewer has an unavoidable conflict of interest, the Service may publicly disclose the conflict.

We anticipate sending the document to the peer reviewers this fall with responses requested approximately 30 days later.  We will not provide financial compensation to peer reviewers.  We will solicit reviews from at least five qualified experts. 

The Service will provide each peer reviewer with information explaining his or her role and instructions for fulfilling that role, and the Hirsh et al. 2006 Report.  The purpose of seeking independent peer review is to ensure use of the best scientific and commercial information available and to ensure and to maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of the information upon which the 12-month Finding is based.  Peer reviewers will be asked not to provide advice on policy.  Instead, the charge to the reviewers will be to focus their review on identifying and characterizing scientific uncertainties.  Additionally, peer reviewers will be asked to consider the following questions and to provide any other relevant comments, criticisms, or thoughts: 

1.      Is the description and analysis of the population trends, population health, genetic status, and historic and current distribution of the species accurate and scientifically supported?

2.      Does the report provide accurate and adequate review and analysis of the factors affecting the species (habitat loss and modification, over utilization, disease, predation, regulatory mechanisms, and genetic fitness)?

3.      Are there any significant oversights, omissions or inconsistencies in the report?

4.      Are the conclusions logical and supported by the evidence provided?

Peer reviewers will provide individual, written responses to the Service.  Peer reviewers have been  advised that their reviews, including their names and affiliations, will be included in the administrative record; and, their reviews will be available to the public.

About Public Participation:

The Service has received the following peer reviews: 

Members of the public can review the document and provide comments on either Hirsh et al. 2006 or our peer review process during the public comment period for the Colorado River cutthroat trout Status Review.  This public comment period is from November 7, 2006 to January 8, 2007.

Contact:

For more information, please contact Al Pfister, Western Colorado
Project Leader at 970-243-2778, extension 29 or Al_Pfister@fws.gov.

Last updated: May 18, 2011