Research is at the heart of what we do
More than 20 years of experience conducting research in the field of natural resource conservation
Since founded in 1999, scientists working with RTR have developed and implemented a myriad of field research projects. Most of our research endeavors have focused on gaining a better understanding of the mortality factors faced by species of conservation concern and evaluating management actions implemented to improve the survival of those species. Our research projects often utilize the latest technologies, including Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags, telemetry (radio, sonic, satellite) tags, ultrasound and DIDSON imagery, and the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to collect data. Our experience as scientists and technologists has shown us that we can improve the traditional process of conducting field research, most notably by integrating innovative technologies into our studies to meet the real-time information needs of today’s decision-makers.
- Mark-recapture survival studies
- Estimating animal abundance and population trajectories
- Behavioral and morphological assessments
- Hydroelectric dam passage investigations
- Studies of predator-prey dynamics
- Habitat studies
- Remote sensing and other non-invasive survey techniques
During our tenure, scientists working with RTR have published well over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and have written many more unpublished technical reports (list of publications available upon request). We pride ourselves on making the information we collect not only available to our clients and their constituents, but also to the scientific community at large.
Our experience doing field research, when coupled with our technology know-how, allows us to meet a wide spectrum of our client’s needs. We are adept at providing a range of services, including study design and boots-on-the-ground research to data system design/management and state-of-the-art statistical modelling. We can provide a breath of services, in whole or in part, depending on the needs of each client. With us, you get a partner that is knowledgeable, flexible, and approachable on all fronts.
Biological Studies in the Snake and Columbia Basins
RTR (prime contractor) and its partners were one of three vendors selected to provide biological and environmental services to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Walla Walla District as part of a 5-year Multiple Award Task Order Contract of Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (MATOC IDIQ). As part of this contract, 25 Task Orders (TO’s) were issued of which RTR was awarded the majority (14 TO’s), totaling over 6 million in funding. This work included studies on Pacific lamprey and adult salmonid passage at hydroelectric dams, juvenile salmonid survival investigations, avian predation research and management implementation, as well as numerous other studies involving fish of conversation concern in the Columbia River basin.
Avian Predation in the Columbia River Basin
Over the past three decades, RTR and its partner (Oregon State University) have been the principal investigators of avian predation on ESA-listed juvenile salmonids in the Columbia River basin. Funding for these studies has come from many different agencies, but primarily from the federal government (i.e., U.S, Army Corps of Engineers, Bonneville Power Administration, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, NOAA Fisheries). Our early work on these studies quantified the number and percentage of out-migrating juvenile salmonids that succumbed to bird predation in the Columbia River basin and elsewhere along the Pacific Coast of North America. After identifying the bird species and colonies posing the greatest threat to salmonid survival, we worked with the resource management agencies to develop and implement management plans to reduce bird predation on salmonid smolts. Currently, we are conducting research, monitoring, and evaluation of these plans to inform adaptive management to maximize the benefits to salmonid survival in managing birds, while at the same time, not putting the managed bird populations at risk.
Central Valley PIT Tag Array Feasibility Study
RTR (prime contractor) and its partner (Biomark) investigated the feasibility and efficacy of using Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tag detection arrays at key locations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to estimate the numbers and run timing of juvenile salmonids moving through that system. The locations of interest in the Central Valley were deeper in water depth than most sites previously monitored, and in some cases, were subject to tidal influence that reversed the direction of flow. To monitor the deeper locations as part of this study, our partner developed a PIT-tag antenna housed in a hydrofoil that was deployed vertically from a barge. Multiple hydrofoils were then deployed side-by-side to increase the horizontal sample volume. In addition, a traditional bottom-mounted antenna was positioned under each hydrofoil barge. The combination of hydrofoil and bottom-mounted antennas allowed us to evaluate the efficacy of each deployment approach to monitor PIT-tagged juvenile fish in water deeper than 3m.
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