Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee (MRRIC) and Adaptive Management

Science Center Objects

This project centers on assimilation of data, interpretation of results, updating quantitative models, and providing policy-neutral, high-quality information to the agencies and stakeholders in the Missouri River Basin. 

The Issue: The Missouri River has been profoundly altered from its pre-development condition. Over the past 15 years the Missouri River Recovery Program (MRRP) has expended more than $770 million in management activities driven mainly by the objective of removing threats of jeopardy to three threatened or endangered species. To provide additional input to the MRRP, the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee (MRRIC) was established in the 2007 Water Resources Development Act “to make recommendations and provide guidance on a study of the Missouri River and its tributaries and on the existing Missouri River recovery and mitigation plan.” One of the first actions of MRRIC was to establish an Independent Science Advisory Panel (ISAP), which issued a report in 2011 (Doyle and others, 2011) supporting development of a new adaptive management plan and urging that it be preceded by an Effects Analysis (EA). The charge to the subsequently launched EA teams followed the structure introduced by Murphy and Weiland (2011) to perform a sys­tematic evaluation of how Federal agency actions may harm a listed species.

Lower Missouri River basin conceptual ecological model for exogeneously-feeding pallid sturgeon larvae

Lower Missouri River basin conceptual ecological model for exogeneously feeding pallid sturgeon larvae

(Public domain.)


Addressing the Issue: Dr. Robert Jacobson was enlisted to lead the pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus) EA team, consisting of Federal, State, and University experts in pallid sturgeon and the Missouri River. The EA team wrote a series of 5 reports that became the foundation for the new science and adaptive management plan (Missouri River Science and Adaptive Management Plan, MRSAMP) as well as providing the basis for new environmental impact statement and record of decision signed in October 2018. Post record of decision, the MRRP transitioned into implementation of the MRSAMP, and the EA effort transitioned into the Missouri River Technical Team. Dr. Jacobson continues to serve on the Technical Team and coordinates efforts of sturgeon experts. The Team is charged with assimilation of data, interpretation of results, updating quantitative models, and providing policy-neutral, high-quality information to the agencies and implementation teams. The Team integrates information coming from MRRP monitoring, assessment, and research, as well as information that arises from outside of the MRRP through various other sources. Current activities of the Team related to pallid sturgeon include continued development and deployment of the integrative population model, optimization of population monitoring (also known as Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment Project, v. 2.0), consultation with agencies on flow management of Fort Peck Dam, Montana, and drafting of the annual adaptive management report.


Next Steps/Future Steps/Results: The pallid sturgeon group of the Technical Team will complete PSPAP v.2.0 simulations for design, provide pilot sample design, assess performance and adjust as needed. Relying on a broad set of technical experts associated with Federal and State agencies, the private sector, and academia, the group will continue efforts in integrative population modeling, population assessment designs, and data management. The Technical Team is slated to exist in its present form through 2020 as it helps to pilot-test how science can be integrated with decision making in the MRRP. After 2020 it may transition to a structure that will provide more sustainable support for the MRRP over the long term.


Related USGS Publications can be found under the Publications tab.


Non-USGS Pubs: 

Doyle, M., Murphy, D., Bartell, S., Farmer, A., Guy, C.S., Palmer, M., and Turner, R., 2011, Final report on spring pulses and adaptive management: Missouri River Recovery Program Independent Science Advisory Panel: U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution, 58 p.

Murphy, D.D., and Weiland, P.S., 2011, The route to best science in implementation of the Endangered Species Act's consultation mandate: The benefits of structured effects analysis: Environmental Management, v. 47, no. 2, p. 161–172, 10.1007/s00267-010-9597-9.