Scientific Peer Review

The Office of Management and Budget published in the Federal Register on January 14, 2005, an information quality bulletin that specifically addressed peer review of scientific information within the federal government. This Bulletin directs all federal agencies to develop agency-specific systems for scientific peer review that would be consistent with guidance contained in the bulletin. The Bulletin is available at the following address: www.whitehouse.gov/omb/fedreg/2005/011405_peer.pdf. This Bulletin identifies two categories of information that it addresses:

Influential Scientific Information: scientific information that will have or does have a clear and substantial impact on important public policies or private sector decisions. The term "influential" should be interpreted consistently with OMB's government-wide information quality guidelines and the information quality guidelines of the agency. Information dissemination can have a significant economic impact even if it is not part of a rulemaking. For instance, the economic viability of a technology can be influenced by the government's characterization of its attributes. Alternatively, the Federal government's assessment of risk can directly or indirectly influence the response actions of state and local agencies or international bodies.

Highly Influential Scientific Assessment: a scientific assessment is considered ''highly influential'' if its dissemination could have a potential impact of more than $500 million in any one year on either the public or private sector; or that the dissemination is novel, controversial, or precedent-setting; or that it has significant interagency interest. One of the ways information can exert economic impact is through the costs or benefits of a regulation based on the disseminated information.

Department of the Interior offices and bureaus have created web sites providing the public with information about planned agency actions that meet the Office of Management and Budget's requirements for scientific peer review. The Department's website provides links to the office and bureau websites at the following address: http://www.doi.gov/ocio/iq_1.html.

National Park Service Peer Review Agenda

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review, dated December 16, 2004, outlines a systematic process of peer review planning and public notice regarding influential scientific information and highly influential scientific assessments.

NPS scientific and scholarly activities are conducted to inform decision-making by individual park and office managers about specific park management actions, about scientific issues associated with inventory and monitoring in small groups of parks, or about bureau programs. In most cases, these decisions relate to planning, resource stewardship, or visitor use management in individual parks; specific park regulations; and other park-specific activities. In some cases, the decisions relate to guidance developed for NPS assistance programs, such as regarding national landmark or historic structure recognition or various types of conservation assistance. Scientific and scholarly activities commissioned to inform a specific park management action may not rise to the threshold that NPS uses to define "influential scientific information."

April 1 through September 30, 2009.

Within the April 1 through September 30, 2009 time period, NPS scheduled the following scientific information materials to receive peer review as influential scientific information:

1. Submitted April 16, 2009, John G. Dennis 202-513-7174

Synthesis Report Regarding Healthy Recreation in Parks:

Title of Report: Evaluation of National Park Service Health and Recreation Pilot Projects

Subject: Findings from pilot studies of user response to National Park Service and partner programs and information regarding healthful outdoor recreation opportunities found in seven units of the National Park System.

Purpose of Report: Provide a synthesis of knowledge obtained from the seven pilot studies.

Agency Contact: John Dennis 202-513-7174

Expected Result of Dissemination: This report is expected to provide influential scientific information.

Planned Time Frame for the Peer Review: The peer review will be conducted during the period April 6 through May 8, 2009.

Mechanism for the Peer Review: The peer review will involve three reviewers who will review the report independently and provide individual and independent comment letters to the Peer Review Manager. The Peer Review Manager will prepare a consolidated analysis that will be submitted to the authors of the report for action. The Peer Review Manager will provide to the Project Manager a summary report of the outcome of the peer review.

Opportunity for Public Comment: The review process will afford no opportunities for receiving public comments on the scientific information being reviewed. Public comments will not be provided to the peer reviewers.

Planned Number of Peer Reviewers: Three.

Primary Disciplines or Expertise Needed for the Review: Active living, public health, recreation research.

Process for Selecting Peer Reviewers: The peer reviewers were selected by the peer review manager, who is a university cooperator with, and funded by, the National Park Service. The peer review manager has identified the peer reviewers through consulting fellow scientists.

Availability of the Document Being Peer Reviewed: The document is not being made public during the peer review process.

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2. Submitted April 29, 2009, John C. Vimont 303-969-2808

Rocky Mountain Atmospheric Nitrogen and Sulfur Study Report:

Title of Report: RoMANS - Rocky Mountain Atmospheric Nitrogen and Sulfur Study Report

Subject: The RoMANS study was designed to respond to the need for more information concerning nitrogen and sulfur deposition at Rocky Mountain National Park, including characterization of the deposition levels, mechanisms involved, and the emission sources responsible for the deposited materials. In particulate form, nitrogen and sulfur compounds also contribute to visibility impairment, which is an additional issue investigated by the RoMANS study. Purpose of Report: Provide information on sources of various contributors to deposition and visibility impairment which can be used to focus on the most effective emission reductions.

Agency Contact: John Vimont 303-969-2808

Expected Result of Dissemination: This report is expected to provide influential scientific information.

Planned Time Frame for the Peer Review: The peer review will be conducted during the period April 29 through May 31, 2009.
Mechanism for the Peer Review: The peer review will involve three reviewers who will review the report independently and provide individual and independent comment letters to the Peer Review Manager. The Peer Review Manager will prepare a consolidated analysis that will be submitted to the authors of the report for action. The Peer Review Manager will provide to the Project Manager a summary report of the outcome of the peer review.

Opportunity for Public Comment: The review process will afford no opportunities for receiving public comments on the scientific information being reviewed. Public comments will not be provided to the peer reviewers.

Planned Number of Peer Reviewers: Three.

Primary Disciplines or Expertise Needed for the Review: Atmospheric Measurements/Deposition, Source Attribution, and Atmospheric Visibility.
Process for Selecting Peer Reviewers: The peer reviewers were selected by the peer review manager, who is a NOAA scientist, and funded through an interagency agreement with the National Park Service. The peer review manager has identified the peer reviewers through consulting fellow scientists.

Availability of the Document Being Peer Reviewed: The document is not being made public during the peer review process.

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October 1, 2009 through March 31, 2010

The NPS did not produce any influential scientific information ready for peer review during the October 1, 2009 through March 31, 2010 time period.

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April 1 through September 30, 2010

1. Submitted June 4, 2010, Elaine Leslie 970 267-2135

Report Regarding the Genetics of Department of the Interior Bison Herds

Title of Report: Bison Conservation Initiative: Genetics Workshop Report and Recommendations

Subject: The report is the result of a meeting of Department of the Interior scientists, conservation biologists and population geneticists in September, 2008. That meeting and subsequent correspondence among the participants have resulted in scientific recommendations on the use of genetic testing in informing decisions regarding the movement and management of 12 bison herds that occur in National Park System and National Wildlife Refuge System units.

Purpose of Report: Provide a summary of genetic information on the Department of the Interior bison herds and recommendations on movement and breeding of animals within and among those herds.

Agency Contact: Jerry Mitchell 970 225-3521

Expected Result of Dissemination: This report is expected to provide influential scientific information.

Planned Time Frame for the Peer Review: The peer review will be conducted during the period June 7 through July 9, 2010.

Mechanism for the Peer Review: The peer review will involve three reviewers who will review the report independently and provide individual and independent comment letters to the Peer Review Manager. The Peer Review Manager will prepare a consolidated analysis that will be submitted to the authors of the report for action. The Peer Review Manager will provide to the Project Manager a summary report of the outcome of the peer review.

Opportunity for Public Comment: The review process will afford no opportunities for receiving public comments on the scientific information being reviewed. Public comments will not be provided to the peer reviewers.

Planned Number of Peer Reviewers: Three.

Primary Disciplines or Expertise Needed for the Review: Population genetics, wildlife biology, resource management.

Process for Selecting Peer Reviewers: Names of possible peer reviewers were suggested by the first author of the report, who is a wildlife geneticist with the National Park Service. The peer review manager has identified the peer reviewers through consulting fellow scientists.

Availability of the Document Being Peer Reviewed: The document is not being made public during the peer review process.

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October 1, 2010 through March 31, 2011

1. Submitted October 29, 2010, Jerry M. Mitchell 970 225-3521

Peer Review Report

Bison Conservation Initiative: Genetics Workshop Report and Recommendations

Nature of the review: The report is the result of a meeting of Department of the Interior scientists, conservation biologists, and population geneticists in September, 2008. That meeting and subsequent correspondence among the participants have resulted in scientific recommendations on the use of genetic testing in informing decisions regarding the movement and management of 12 bison herds that occur in National Park System and National Wildlife Refuge System units. A report was written by principal authors Peter Dratch, of the National Park Service, and Peter Gogan, of the U.S. Geological Survey. The report is believed to have influential scientific information, and a peer review was conducted.

Peer Review Manager: Jerry M. Mitchell, Chief, Biological Resource Management Division, National Park Service, 1201 Oakridge Drive, Fort Collins, CO 80525

Peer Reviewers:
Fred Allendorf, Professor, University of Montana
Kyran Kunkel, Senior Fellow, World Wildlife Fund
Stephen O'Brien, Chief, National Cancer Institute Laboratory of Genomic Diversity

Confidentiality and conflict of interest documentation is on file in the office of the Peer Review Manager.

Findings and Conclusions of the review: Comments were received from all reviewers, but comments can be categorized as suggesting, contributing to, and/or substantiating the thesis, analysis and conclusions. Additions were made with the benefit of the comments received; wholesale reassessment and rewrite were not indicated. All comments received from peer reviewers, and responses by the principal authors, are included below.

The objectives and structure of the peer review: The subject report (Bison Conservation Initiative: Genetics Workshop Report and Recommendations) has an objective of providing summary genetic information on Department of the Interior bison herds, and recommendations on movement and breeding of animals within and among those herds. The objective of the review was to confirm and strengthen the summary information and recommendations. The workshop report was provided to the peer reviewers, with general instruction and a request to review the technical information related to genetics, population genetics and wildlife biological matters, but the breadth of the review was not constrained by the Peer Review Manager.

All peer reviewer comments are documented below, along with the explanations (in italics) of how peer review comments were addressed by the authors. Upon completion of the peer review, comments were compiled by the Peer Review Manager and provided to the principal authors, who were asked to consider and document responses to the peer review comments.

Comment: The purpose of this document is clear, as are the overall objectives. The only unclear element was how much the Canadian herds were being considered in this review.

Response: The Canadian herds were only considered as context for management of US DOI herds, as only one scientist from Parks Canada attended the meeting and one bison biologist from the Canadian Fish and Wildlife Service made a presentation by phone. The Report introduction was modified to make explicit that it addresses plains bison herds managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Comment: For the most part the appropriate literature was reviewed. I was especially impressed with the appendices that outlined the history of each herd. The only part that was missing was the history of some of the early herds (i.e., NY Zoological Society / American Bison Association, Conrad Herd - Kalispell Montana, etc; see last section for more details).

Response: The focus here is the DOI herds and that is why their histories, as provided by staff of the Parks and Refuges, are included. The history of other early bison herds was covered in the references (Coder, 1975, etc).

Comment: In general this is a well put together document that has a clear goal of outlining a management plan for DOI bison herds. The critical management objectives are to decrease or prevent the spread of cattle ancestry in the existing bison herds and to maintain genetic diversity. I have only one major concern with this document and several minor ones listed below. I hope these comments help improve the document and the ultimate management of DOI herds.

Many of the conclusions are well supported but one important option (outlined in section 7 below) should be considered. One option that I would like considered is the extermination of existing herds that had high levels of introgression with cattle, and re-founding these herds with animals from the Pelican Valley of Yellowstone National Park. In fact, an extreme position may be to eliminate all herds that have introgression and re-colonize with animals from one of the non-introgressed herds. While this would be politically unpalatable, I wonder if in 100 years from now it would produce the best results. The trade-off here would be loss of genetic variation (native bison alleles) not currently represented in Yellowstone for the gain of removing cattle ancestry from the herds. However, given the extreme bottlenecks that most of these herds went through during founder events, I would guess that most of the unrepresented alleles (i.e., ones not found in YNPPelican) are from cattle.

Response: Compared to commercial herds, and even some state park bison herds, the amount of detected cattle ancestry in the 12 DOI bison herds is very low. As the reviewer noted, it would be politically untenable to eliminate herds managed on reserves for decades because of a new molecular technology that determines they are not pure. Moreover, as the reviewer points out, eliminating all of those herds would also eliminate some of the genetic variation (private alleles) detected in plains bison. Some Yellowstone bison have been through a quarantine facility for Brucellosis and are now at Turner's Flying D Ranch. Isolating the Pelican Valley herd would have been speculative and, as the option is not realistic, the report therefore was not altered to reflect it.

Comment: As I reviewed this document I kept wondering things like: Why invest money in managing the existing bison herd at Neil Smith (Iowa) when it was initiated with animals from the National Bison Range that likely had cattle introgression from at least six different sources? Would we be better off eliminating this herd now, and seeding it with bison from YNP (especially those that were destined for culling when they leave the park in the winter)? At least we would know that we are spending limited conservation dollars for bison and not for some domestic/wild hybrids.

Response: It is for the individual agencies to decide whether to eliminate herds which will never make a significant contribution to metapopulations. The report was not changed to make herd specific recommendations. The purpose of this report is to make clear where there is redundancy between herds and suggest genetic criteria for management decisions.

Comment: This information is very nicely presented. The objectives are clear. One concern was that from the introduction I thought wood bison would also be considered (pg 1) and they are not.

Response: None of the DOI herds contain wood bison. The introduction has been edited to make clear that the charge of the workshop was focused on genetics of plains bison herds managed by U.S. federal agencies.

Comment: Also, I had a hard time understanding if the recommendation of herd sizes being 1000 individuals was a true recommendation (from simulations) or a pre-conceived assumption.

Response: The recommendation of 1000 individuals was a starting point derived from John Gross, who was a workshop participant, in order to preserve 90% of detected allelic variation over two centuries, and is now cited (Gross et. al. 2006). The report now makes the source of the 1000 bison starting point explicit.

Comment: This is a very important planning document. It will help guide the future genetic management of bison. I put together the following figure to try to understand bison ancestry and determine the value of maintaining herds that likely contained animals with high levels of cattle introgression (data from the appendix)

Response: The figure suggested is valuable in showing herd origins, and has now been included in the document, with the permission and naming of the author.

Comment: In the background section it is noted that bison populations can generally be considered of sufficient size for genetic purposes when the population size is around 1000 animals or more. Later this becomes a recommendation. I had trouble discerning if this was an assumption of the workshop, an objective, or a recommendation. I would also like to see the background on this recommendation. Why 1000, and not 500 or 5000?

Response: The recommendation of 1000 individuals was a starting point derived from John Gross who was a workshop participant, in order to preserve 90% of detected allelic variation over two centuries, and is now cited (Gross et al 2006 as well as the IUCN report, Boyd et al 2010) in the report.

Comment: Why was the 2% threshold for cattle ancestry used? Is this a function of what is currently feasible to detect or a function of what is seen as biologically palatable by some group? Why not 0% or 10%?

Response: The 2% threshold for cattle ancestry was chosen as a starting point of the discussion because it is substantially above the levels found in DOI herds, and yet below the amount of detected introgression for most commercial and other conservation herds. The group did in fact change the threshold to 0% for some herds, recommending that those DOI herds with no detected cattle ancestry not be mixed with other herds. The report now reflects that the threshold may be modified in light of the application of SNPs and other high resolution markers.

Comment: Background Section (page 3): The history of Canadian bison is presented here, leading one to believe that this document is about the herds in both the U.S. and Canada, and possibly about wood bison, when in fact it is only about plain bison in the U.S.

Response: The Canadian herds and the wood bison herds were only considered as context for management of US DOI herds, which are all plains bison. That was the focus of the workshop. The introduction has been edited to make that clear.

Comment: Table 1. (Page 8) Both the Wichita Mountains NWR and Wind Cave National Park are derived from the New York Zoological Society. Yet the former has introgression while the latter may not. Why is this? While WMNWR has longhorns in the NWR, it was noted in the document that natural crosses don't usually occur. So how did the introgression arise at WMNWR but not at Wind Cave? This is important, because it is critical to discern if the NY Zoological animals were non-introgressed.

Response: The reason is limitation of the resolution of the molecular tests and/or the number of bison tested in the original table. The report has been changed so it now reflects more high resolution tests (SNPs), which suggested cattle ancestry for Wind Cave bison, making all descendents of the New York Zoo Society bison consistent. Also, Appendix D indicates bison moved from Ft. Niobrara to Wichita Mountains.

Comment: Table 1 (Page 8) It would be helpful to have a column which counts the number of source populations used for the herd.

Response: The number of source populations would clutter the table and could be misleading since some herds involved in transfers come from the same original source, so we have not added a column to the table. Instead we adopted the graphic (Appendix D) which shows the relationship of source populations.

Comment: Page 9. "No herd can be absolutely assured to have no cattle ancestry." Why is this true? I assume the Pelican River Herd in Yellowstone National Park could be without cattle ancestry.

Response: This assumes that there is no genetic exchange between the Pelican Valley herd and the northern herd of the Yellowstone bison populations. It is known that Charles Goodnight provided three bulls from his Texas ranch to the northern herd. It is not known whether these bulls had cattle ancestry (although could only have occurred by the F2 generation because early hybridization only produced females (Boyd 1908, Hedrick, 2010). More high resolution tests and more extensive sampling in Yellowstone should answer the question as to whether Pelican Valley bison have some cattle ancestry.

Comment: Page 9, Last paragraph. Why do the herds with low levels of cattle ancestry have important genetic value? Couldn't the unique genetic variation be solely due to cattle introgression?

Response: It is possible to sort sources of variation both mtDNA haplotypes and microsatellite alleles that characterize cattle or bison, and thus identify variation that was preserved in the bottleneck that occurred during the sharp decline of North American bison. Some herds, such as Wind Cave, have had value because those groups that are starting large free-ranging populations for ecological restoration with major land investment want to use bison that have alleles that are unique to bison. This begs the question as to whether animals which have retained some cattle genes for a century have done so because they confer a selective benefit under changing conditions. The report makes clear that different herds have different amounts of variation that is attributable to bison.

Comment: Page 10 - I am unclear as to why the NBR Herd is of particular interest. At least 7 other herds have contributed to this herd. This document provides no information on the majority of these source herds. If the 7 herds were pure bison, then this statement is true. If there was a high level of introgression in these herds then NBR is one of the least valuable herds.

Response: The herd is of interest because of its origin. It came from northern Montana where there is interest in restoring free-ranging bison, and that is why it is detailed in the report. Also because unlike all the other DOI herds where we are likely detecting cattle crosses from the time soon after the founding herd was created, it was recent cattle hybridization which was detected and reversed. This suggests a mechanism if removal of cattle genes is seen to be warranted with the application of high resolution individual testing. For that reason some details on the NBR herd remain in the report.

Comment: Page 10. I really like the emphasis on the need for higher resolution DNA testing. And on understanding substructure within YNP (Page 11)

Response: The final report has been modified and the use of higher resolution given more emphasis, as these tests were conducted after the workshop. Because these tests are important in supporting the recommendations, preliminary results are included from Wind Cave and Yellowstone National Parks.

Comment: I would like to see more concrete recommendations to help coordinate management of herds. One recommendation is to maximize the number of breeding males. It would be helpful to have a table that recommended how to do this (coordination meetings, common software, specifics of the software, common genetic tests, etc).

Response: That level of management detail is beyond the charge of this report and was not discussed at the workshop. It would be appropriate for the next management steps on the agenda of the Bison Conservation Initiative.

Comment: I am concerned that the small population section (pg 12) has competing elements and no discussion on how to balance a necessary trade-off. In the summary section of the document it is noted that it is critical to "minimize selection for docility and other traits related to domestication", yet in the small population section there is a suggestion to minimize the natural sexual selection that occurs in herds where a small number of males can dominate the breeding system. It seems that the stock approach to maintaining the maximum effective population size by maximizing the number of breeding males will undoubtedly reduce the sexual selection. What is the recommendation when these two forces (sexual selection versus maximizing the number of breeders) compete? At what herd size does the recommendation from maximization of the number of breeders switch to allowing for sexual selection (500, 1000)?

Response: The trade-off between sexual selection (allowing the best bulls to be successful) and loss of genetic variation is inherent to small population sizes. These recommendations are cautionary and directed to managers of small herds to make sure that they do not repeatedly use the same bulls. That reinforces the importance of establishing metapopulations, where sexual selection can occur within each subpopulation, but variation is preserved across them. When there are 1000 animals in a single breeding population, that is much less likely to be a problem, and this is now stated in the report.

Comment: I like the section on research recommendations. It seems critical that the following three topics are studied before any management recommendations on DOI herd management can be made:
a) Develop and apply a SNP panel to better detect cattle introgression in each of the herds (as noted in this section).
b) Examine historical skulls of bison to better understand natural substructure and genetic variation (as noted in this section).
c) Better examine gene flow between the Northern Herd in Yellowstone National Park (which had animals from Texas that may have been introgressed with cattle) and the Pelican Herd in Yellowstone National Park.

Response: It is encouraging that the research recommendations were favored by a genetics researcher. Two of the three are already in early stages: development and application of SNPs to cattle, and genetic comparison of Yellowstone herds.

Comment: Page 14. The first sentence of the conclusions notes the importance of the herds in Canada, yet this document does not deal with these herds. Either remove, or better yet, add information on the Canadian populations.

Response: This point is well taken. While the Canadian bison herds are important, they were not dealt with in enough detail at the workshop to warrant mention in the conclusion. Reference to Canadian herds in the conclusion has been removed.

Comment: Appendix: Are the Western Montana animals that were used to found the YNP northern herd the same as the Conrad Herd animals from Kalispell Montana; Ravalli Montana (Denison); or the NBR Herd? Similarly, is the Texas Herd mentioned here the same as the Goodnight Herd?

Response: We don't know the source of the Montana animals used to augment the remnant Yellowstone herd. We do know that the current Texas State Herd descends from the Goodnight herd.

Comment: P 9 - Provide more details (lit too) on rational/justification for <2% goal for introgression.
Response: The 2% threshold for cattle ancestry was chosen only as a starting point of the discussion because it is substantially above levels found in the DOI herds, and yet below the amount of detected introgression for most commercial and other conservation herds. It was not intended as a fixed standard, and may well have to be reexamined as SNPs or other high resolution cattle introgression markers come into general use for individual bison and herd genetic testing.

Comment: P 9 - Provide further discussion of issue of impact of removing individuals with cattle intro based on nuclear and snps, how do we assess tradeoffs of selection vs. cattle introgression.

Response: This discussion went as far as it could without making an explicit statement that selection for individual neutral cattle alleles, and removal of bison with these neutral markers is misguided. That was not a conclusion of the meeting and could be counterproductive in developing a common framework for all DOI bureaus. A scientist who participated in the workshop made it clear that selection on the basis of neutral markers is counter-productive (Hedrick 2009).

Comment: If snps shows introgression in herds formerly shown to have no introgression, what are implications of that to management of those herds and to the 2% threshold? Would it potentially change the threshold? Again, more discussion of rationale for that threshold would be valuable.

Response: What the commenter suggests has subsequently occurred: preliminary analysis of herds with SNPs shows that some herds that formerly showed no introgression do have cattle ancestry (Wind Cave and Grand Teton). That the 2% threshold was a starting point is now reflected in the report, and it certainly could be re-examined when SNP data for most DOI herds is available. Any threshold will not eliminate the larger issue, that of putting "pure" bison, as determined by the best available molecular tests, at a premium.

General Comment: This report gives a detailed assessment of the demographic and genetic status of DOI manage bison populations in USA and Canada and makes several recommendations for management and possible additional science research that would contribute to Bison Population stabilization and continuance. By in large the report is clear comprehensive and well written and reasonable. The recommendations make sense to me and should be useful guideline in implementing management programs of existing and future free ranging bison populations.

There is particular attention paid to assessing admixture from cattle and also in maintaining outbred populations with appreciable genetic diversity in the face of historical information of small population bottleneck origins for most populations. I applaud the National Park Service for initiating this workshop and report as it brought to the table advice from several knowledgeable and experienced conservation genetic practitioners as well as scientists who developed the limited data available around these populations.

There are a few significant weaknesses or omissions in the report that I think should be added if the report is to undergo internal editing. These are:

Comment: The detail around the robustness of the genetic data upon which Table 1 is based in quantifying cattle admixture and overall genic (sic) variation is lacking. It is not easy for this reviewer to assess how good a negative for cattle introgression should be trusted, nor was any rough quantitative estimation of how much introgression seen in a sample of how many individuals. For example the citation for the average heterozygosity in this table Footnotes "c and d" have nothing to do with bison, making me wonder where the real data are. Addressing and including these precise details would make the genetic inferences easier to evaluate. A few pages or tables of the details here seem useful.

Response: Table I represents a summary of the data on introgression and variation from several authors, using different methods. The papers and communications on the data are all cited in the explanation of the table and the references, and the sample sizes are in those papers. The table has since been modified to include recent unpublished analysis using SNPs that suggests, as herd movement records would infer, that there has been a history of cattle introgression in all herds with the possible exception of Yellowstone. The footnotes are for managers without genetics training to demonstrate that these are standard measures of genetic variation, and have therefore been retained.

Comment: Nowhere is there any attempt to address the habitat requirements for bison populations of varying sizes, nor the ecological constraints that influence this. Though I am a geneticist I do appreciate that habitat assessment and establishing minimum size areas, adequate flora, prey and in this case predator abundance and other environmental aspects dictate those habitats that are optimal for how many animals I'd like to see a Table of the 12 DOI population areas with a dozen parameters to compare from area, number bison, year established, predators, plant cover etc), Without this assessment, the goal of populations of 1000 bison seems amateurish and perhaps premature.

Response: Habitat requirements for bison were beyond the scope of the workshop and the report, beyond the consensus provided by range managers, with few exceptions such as Yellowstone, that the NPS units and FWS refuges with bison do not have adequate acreage currently to maintain 1000 individuals. These sites must be expanded or a metapopulation strategy involving regular exchange between particular herds must be established to conserve genetic variation over centuries. A workshop devoted to range and habitat for bison is planned and could provide such detail, but there is no further information on habitat requirements in this workshop report.

Comment: The conclusion that the herds are "Not affected by inbreeding" is hardly supported by any real data that was presented. What fitness components were assessed and what were the results and citation?

Response: The lack of obvious inbreeding effects in the DOI herds is a direct contrast to those seen in the Texas State Bison herd, which showed both the molecular and reproductive effects - much as was demonstrated in the Florida panther. And like the panther, bringing in other unrelated animals quickly reversed the effects. The text now reflects this comparison rather than suggesting there are no inbreeding effects.

Comment: I get the impression that most cattle introgression came with the intentional cross breeding of the founder populations a century ago and that effective inter crossing in the wild today is very rare. If that is so, then is there too much emphasis on detecting cattle introgression today? Also, if it is all based on 14 STRs, that seems a bit weak. What about mtDNA lineages; comparing both STRs and MtDNA can be very useful in quantifying admixture (e.g . see Luo et al. Curr Biol 18:592-596, 2008).

Response: The reviewer correctly concludes that in the DOI bison herds all of the detected cross-breeding, with the exception of that detected and reversed at the National Bison Range, is a historical artifact of the early conservation of plains bison. The emphasis on it today is because of the choice of founder stock for ecological restoration of bison. The data provided in the reviewer draft is based on mtDNA and 14 STRs (autosomal microsatellites), and while it could be stronger, it is now supported by recent work with inferences on the relationship between the two types of markers (Hedrick 2010) and application of SNPs to bison (Decker et al 2009, Pertoldi et at 2010), which further support introgression in DOI herds where it was previously inferred .

Comment: In sum I thought detail of history, background and origins of the 12 DOI managed populations and their rescue was excellent. This really does sound like a conservation success story. However, the rigor of the genetics data upon which the recommendations are based is unapparent and could be improved by a bit more hard data and detail. This would help defend better both the recommendations and the importance of developing finer grain genetic tools for assessing diversity and admixture (high density SNP arrays will do but need to be n\validated in Bison first).

Response: While this is a workshop report and not a genetics research paper, we have revised the report to add some of the data on which the recommendations are based, as well as the most current references to the new methods now being applied to bison. High density SNPs arrays developed in cattle have been validated in bison, are currently being applied to some DOI bison herds, and the utility of developing bison SNPs is being evaluated.

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2. Submitted by: Bruce Peacock on October 29, 2010

Comprehensive Survey of the American Public Peer Review

Title of Report: National Park Service Comprehensive Survey of the American Public 2008-2009, National Technical Report

Subject: Findings from a national telephone survey of 4,000 U.S. households in all 50 states and the District of Columbia describing the opinions and behavior of recent visitors and non-visitors regarding national parks.

Purpose of Report: Describe survey methods and findings for the nation as a whole and (where available) for each of the seven administrative regions of the National Park Service.

Agency Contact(s): Bruce Peacock (970-267-2106)

Expected Result of Dissemination: This report is expected to provide influential scientific information.

Planned Time Frame for the Peer Review: The peer review will be conducted from November 1 through November 30, 2010.

Mechanism for the Peer Review: The peer review will involve two reviewers who will review the national technical report independently and provide individual and independent comment letters to the Peer Review Manager. These will be independent reviewers that are not employed by the National Park Service and not associated with the preparation of the report or the underlying research. The Peer Review Manager will prepare a consolidated analysis that will be submitted to the authors of the report for action. The Peer Review Manager will provide to the Project Manager a summary report of the outcome of the peer review.

Opportunity for Public Comment: The review process will afford no opportunities for receiving public comments on the scientific information being reviewed. Public comments will not be provided to the peer reviewers.

Planned Number of Peer Reviewers: Two.

Primary Disciplines or Expertise Needed for the Review: Survey research methods, statistical analysis, recreation research.
Process for Selecting Peer Reviewers: The peer reviewers were selected by the peer review manager, who is a university cooperator with, and funded by, the National Park Service. The peer review manager has identified the peer reviewers through consulting fellow scientists.

Availability of the Document Being Peer Reviewed: The document is not being made public during the peer review process.
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 April 1, 2011 through September 30, 2011

 

The NPS did not produce any influential scientific information ready for peer review during the April 1, 2011 through September 30, 2011 time period

 

October 1, 2011 through March 31, 2012

 

The NPS did not produce any influential scientific information ready for peer review during the October 1, 2011 through March 31, 2012 time period

 

April 1, 2012 through September 30, 2012

 

1. Submitted by:Alan C. Ellsworth on 12 September 2012

 

Peer Review Plan

 

Peer Review of Report Regarding Use of Fintrol (Antimycin A) for Restoration of Native Fish Populations

 

Title of Report:Standard Operating Practices for the Use of Fintrol (Antimycin A) for Restoration of Native Fish Populations

 

Subject:Procedures to insure safe, legal, and appropriate use of Fintrol in waters.

 

Purpose of Report:Provide direction for aquatic resource professionals wishing to manage fish populations through use of Fintrol (Antimycin A).

 

Agency Contact(s):Alan Ellsworth (202.513.7181)

 

Expected Result of Dissemination:This report is expected to provide influential scientific information.

 

Planned Time Frame for the Peer Review:The peer review will be conducted from 12 September 2012 through 12 October 2012.

 

Mechanism for the Peer Review:The peer review will involve three reviewers who will review the report independently and provide individual and independent comment letters to the Peer Review Manager.These will be independent reviewers who are not employed by the National Park Service and not associated with the preparation of the report or the underlying research.The Peer Review Manager will prepare a consolidated analysis that will be submitted to the authors of the report for action.The Peer Review Manager will produce a summary report of the outcome of the peer review.

 

Opportunity for Public Comment: The review process will afford no opportunities for receiving public comments on the scientific information being reviewed.Public comments will not be provided to the peer reviewers.

 

Planned Number of Peer Reviewers:Three.

 

Primary Disciplines or Expertise Needed for the Review:Fish Biostatistics, Fish Population Restoration, Environmental Contaminants.

 

Process for Selecting Peer Reviewers:The peer reviewers were selected by the peer review manager, who is a National Park Service water resources professional.The peer review manager has identified the peer reviewers through consulting fellow water resource managers.

 

Availability of the Document Being Peer Reviewed:The document is not being made public during the peer review process.

 

 

October 1, 2012 through March 31, 2013

 

Peer Review Report

 

1.     Peer review manager's report for:

 

Natural Resource Report NPS/NRSS/WRD/NRR-2012/594:Standard Operating Practices for the Use of Fintrolģ (Antimycin A) for Restoration of Native Fish Populations, by Moore, S., M. Kulp, B. Rosenlund, J. Brooks, and D. Propst

 

Name of Peer Review Manager:

 

Alan Ellsworth, NPS Water Resources Division, Environmental Protection Specialist and Water Resources Liaison

1201 Eye St. NW, Room 1162

Washington, DC 20005

Phone: 202.513.7181

 

Names, affiliations, and contact information for external peer and management reviewers:

 

S. Bradford Cook, Ph.D.

Professor and Interim Chair

Department of Biology

Tennesse Technological University

Cookeville, TN 38505

(931) 372-3194

 

Jim Long, Ph.D.

Assistant Unit Leader-Fisheries and Adjunct Assistant Professor

OK Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

007 Agriculture Hall

Oklahoma State University

Stillwater, OK 74078

(405) 744-6342

 

Tom Steeger, Ph.D.

Senior Science Advisor

Environmental Fate and Effects Division

Office of Pesticide Programs

U. S. Environmental Protection Agency

Ariel Rios Building

1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20460

(703) 305-5444

 

Peer Review Results:

 

Major review comments addressed and areas of the report that were revised during the peer review included:

 

Reviewers' comments were primarily focused on grammatical edits. The authorís corrections improved readability and consistency of the final product.

 

Comments regarding need to clarify product application and detoxification procedures described in the manual resulted in changes made by the primary author to improve clarity.

 

A perceived focus on NPS-only procedures was corrected by the primary author to ensure the approach would be transferrable.

 

Comments pertaining to how legislative (Endangered Species Act; Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act; Clean Water Act) compliance would be achieved were addressed by the primary author.

 

All reviewers' comments are available on file in track changes, Microsoft Word format.

 

Date that peer review comments were returned to contributor:

 

Long, 26 September 2012; Steeger, 4 October 2012; Cook, 17 September 2012

 

Peer Review Managerís Conclusion:

 

Peer and management review comments have been adequately incorporated into the final manuscript.

 

Approval date:

 

Peer review manager accepted revised manuscript: 30 November 2012

 

April 1, 2013 through September 30, 2013

 

The NPS did not produce any influential scientific information ready for peer review during the April 1, 2013 through September 30, 2013 time period

 

October 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014

 

1.Submitted by:David Graber on 20 December 2013

 

Peer Review Plan

 

Peer Review of Draft Report regarding results from two visitor surveys (Shuttle Bus Survey and Auto Touring Survey) conducted in the Nisqually Corridor of Mount Rainier National Park (MORA) during Summer 2011:

 

Title of Report:Visitor Survey Report to Support Development of Visitor Facilities Zone Indicators & Standards.

 

Subject:The report presents results from two visitor surveys (Shuttle Bus Survey and Auto Touring Survey).

 

Purpose of Report:Provide park managers with information to inform development of an integrated, coordinated approach to solving transportation problems in MORA and establishing a user capacity and long-term monitoring program for the park.

 

Agency Contact(s):David Graber (voice: 559.565.3173; email: david_graber@nps.gov).

 

Expected Result of Dissemination:This report is expected to provide influential scientific information.

 

Planned Time Frame for the Peer Review:The peer review will be conducted from 1 December 2013 through 15 January 2014.

 

Mechanism for the Peer Review:The peer review will involve two reviewers who will review the report independently and provide individual and independent comments to the Peer Review Manager.These will be independent reviewers who are not employed by the National Park Service and not associated with the preparation of the report or the underlying research.The Peer Review Manager will prepare a consolidated analysis that will be submitted to the authors of the report for action.The Peer Review Manager will produce a summary report of the outcome of the peer review.

 

Opportunity for Public Comment: The review process will afford no opportunities for soliciting public comments on the scientific information being reviewed.

 

Planned Number of Peer Reviewers:Two.

 

Primary Disciplines or Expertise Needed for the Review:Outdoor visitor recreation in general, and survey research in particular.

 

Process for Selecting Peer Reviewers:The peer reviewers were selected by the peer review manager, who is a National Park Service senior scientist.The peer review manager has identified the peer reviewers through consulting NPS scientists.

 

Availability of the Document Being Peer Reviewed:The document is not being made public during the peer review process.