Recovery Glossary

The following terminology is used consistently in recovery planning and implementation processes. It provides a broad introduction to the technical language and will help facilitate your review of recovery materials.

abundance: In the context of salmon recovery, abundance refers to the number of adult fish returning to spawn, measured over a time series.

adaptive management: Adaptive management in salmon recovery planning is a method of decision making in the face of uncertainty. A plan for monitoring, evaluation, and feedback is incorporated into an overall implementation plan so that the results of actions can become
feedback on design and implementation of future actions.

anadromous fish: Species that are hatched in freshwater, migrate to and mature in salt water, and return to freshwater to spawn.

baseline monitoring: In the context of recovery planning, baseline monitoring is done before implementation, in order to establish historical and/or current conditions against which progress (or lack of progress) can be measured.

biogeographical region: an area defined in terms of physical and habitat features, including topography and ecological variations, where groups of organisms (in this case salmon and steelhead) have evolved in common.

broad sense recovery goals: Goals defined in the recovery planning process, generally by local recovery planning groups, that go beyond the requirements for delisting, to address, for example, other legislative mandates or social, economic, and ecological values.

compliance monitoring: Monitoring to determine whether a specific performance standard, environmental standard, regulation, or law is met.

delisting criteria: Criteria incorporated into recovery plans that define both biological viability (biological criteria) and alleviation of the causes for decline (threats criteria based on the five listing factors in ESA section 4[a][1]), and that, when met, would result in a determination that a species is no longer threatened or endangered and can be proposed for removal from the Federal list of threatened and endangered species. These criteria are a NOAA Fisheries' determination and may include both technical and policy considerations.

distinct population segment (DPS): A listable entity under the ESA that meets tests of discreteness and significance according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries policy. A population is considered distinct (and hence a “species” for purposes of conservation under the ESA) if it is discrete from and significant to the remainder of its species based on factors such as physical,
behavioral, or genetic characteristics, it occupies an unusual or unique ecological setting, or its loss would represent a significant gap in the species’ range.

diversity: All the genetic and phenotypic (life history, behavioral, and morphological) variation within a population. Variations could include anadromy vs. lifelong residence in freshwater, fecundity, run timing, spawn timing, juvenile behavior, age at smolting, age at maturity, egg size, developmental rate, ocean distribution patterns, male and female spawning behavior, physiology, molecular genetic characteristics, etc.

endangered species: A species in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

effectiveness monitoring: Monitoring set up to test cause-and-effect hypotheses about recovery actions: Did the management actions achieve their direct effect or goal? For example, did fencing a riparian area to exclude livestock result in recovery of riparian vegetation?

ESA recovery plan: A plan to recover a species listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The ESA requires that recovery plans, to the extent practicable, incorporate (1) objective, measurable criteria that, when met, would result in a
determination that the species is no longer threatened or endangered; (2) site-specific management actions that may be necessary to achieve the plan's goals; and (3) estimates of the time required and costs to implement recovery actions.

evolutionarily significant unit (ESU): A group of Pacific salmon or steelhead trout that is (1) substantially reproductively isolated from other conspecific units and (2) represents an important component of the evolutionary legacy of the species.

extinct: No longer in existence. No individuals of this species can be found.

extirpated: Locally extinct. Other populations of this species exist elsewhere. Functionally extirpated populations are those of which there are so few remaining numbers that there are not enough fish or habitat in suitable condition to support a fully functional population.

factors for decline: Five general categories of causes for decline of a species, listed in the Endangered Species Act section 4(a)(1)(b): (A) the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or human-made factors affecting its continued existence.

functionally extirpated: Describes a species that has been extirpated from an area; although a few individuals may occasionally be found, there are not enough fish or habitat in suitable condition to support a fully functional population.

hyporheic zone: Area of saturated gravel and other sediment beneath and beside streams and rivers where groundwater and surface water mix.

implementation monitoring: Monitoring to determine whether an activity was performed and/or completed as planned.

independent population: Any collection of one or more local breeding units whose population dynamics or extinction risk over a 100-year time period is not substantially altered by exchanges of individuals with other populations.

indicator: A variable used to forecast the value or change in the value of another variable.

interim regional recovery plan: A recovery plan that is intended to lead to an ESA recovery plan but that is not yet complete. These plans might address only a portion of an ESU or lack other key components of an ESA recovery plan.

intrinsic potential: The estimated relative suitability of a habitat for spawning and rearing of anadromous salmon species under historical conditions inferred from stream characteristics including channel size, gradient, and valley width.

intrinsic productivity: The expected ratio of natural-origin offspring to parent spawners at levels of abundance below carrying capacity.

kelts: Steelhead that are returning to the ocean after spawning and have the potential to spawn again in subsequent years (unlike most salmon, steelhead do not necessarily die shortly after spawning).

large woody debris (LWD): A general term for wood naturally occurring or artificially placed in streams, including branches, stumps, logs, and logjams. Streams with adequate LWD tend to have greater habitat diversity, a natural meandering shape, and greater resistance to flooding.

legacy effects: Impacts from past activities that continue to affect a stream or watershed in the
present day.

limiting factor: Physical, biological, or chemical features (e.g., inadequate spawning habitat, high water temperature, insufficient prey resources) experienced by the fish that result in reductions in viable salmonid population parameters (abundance, productivity, spatial structure, and diversity). Key limiting factors are those with the greatest impacts on a population’s ability to reach a desired status.

locally developed recovery plan: A plan developed by state, tribal, regional, or local planning entities to address recovery of a species. These plans are being developed by a number of entities throughout the region to address ESA as well as state, tribal, and local mandates and recovery needs.

maintained status: Population status in which the population does not meet the criteria for a viable population but does support ecological functions and preserve options for species' recovery.

major population group (MPG): A group of salmon populations that are geographically and genetically cohesive. The MPG is a level of organization between demographically independent populations and the ESU or DPS.

major spawning area (MaSA): A system of one or more branches that contain sufficient spawning and rearing habitat to support more than 500 spawners.

management unit: A geographic area defined for recovery planning purposes on the basis of state, tribal, or local jurisdictional boundaries that encompass all or a portion of the range of a listed species.

metrics: A metric is something that quantifies a characteristic of a situation or process; for example, the number of natural-origin salmon returning to spawn to a specific location is a metric for population abundance.

minor spawning area (MiSA): A system of one or more branches that contains sufficient spawning and rearing habitat to support 50 – 500 spawners.

morphology: The form and structure of an organism, with special emphasis on external features.

natural-origin fish: Fish that were spawned and reared in the wild, regardless of parental origin.

parr: The stage in anadromous salmonid development between absorption of the yolk sac and transformation to smolt before migration seaward.

phenotype: Any observable characteristic of an organism, such as its external appearance, development, biochemical or physiological properties, or behavior.

piscivorous: (Adj.) Describes fish that eat other fish.

productivity: The average number of surviving offspring per parent. Productivity is used as an indicator of a population’s ability to sustain itself or its ability to rebound from low numbers. The terms “population growth rate” and “population productivity” are interchangeable when referring to measures of population production over an entire life cycle. Can be expressed as the number of recruits (adults) per spawner or the number of smolts per spawner.

recovery domain: An administrative unit for recovery planning defined by NOAA Fisheries based on species boundaries, ecosystem boundaries, and existing local planning processes. Recovery domains may contain one or more listed species.

recovery goals: Goals incorporated into a locally developed recovery plan, which may include delisting (i.e., no longer considered endangered or threatened), reclassification (e.g., from endangered to threatened), and/or other goals. Broad sense goals are a subset of recovery goals.

recovery plan supplement: A NOAA Fisheries supplement to a locally developed recovery plan that describes how the plan addresses ESA requirements for recovery plans. The supplement also proposes ESA delisting criteria for the species addressed by the plan, since a determination of these criteria is a NOAA Fisheries' decision.

recovery scenarios: Scenarios that describe a target status for each population within an ESU, generally consistent with TRT recommendations for ESU viability.

redd: A nest constructed by female salmonids in streambed gravels where eggs are fertilized and deposited.

recovery strategy: Statements that identify the assumptions and logic – the rationale – for the species’ recovery program.

riparian area: Area with distinctive soils and vegetation between a stream or other body of water and the adjacent upland.

salmonid: Fish of the family Salmonidae, including salmon, trout, chars, grayling, and whitefish. In general usage, the term usually refers to salmon and steelhead trout.

smolt: A juvenile salmonid that is undergoing physiological and behavioral changes to adapt from freshwater to saltwater as it migrates toward the ocean.

spatial structure: Characteristics of a fish population’s geographic distribution. Current spatial structure depends upon the presence of fish, not merely the potential for fish to occupy an area.

stakeholders: Agencies, groups, or private citizens with an interest in recovery planning, or those who will be affected by recovery planning and actions.

Technical Recovery Team (TRT): Teams convened by NOAA Fisheries to develop technical products related to recovery planning. Planning forums unique to specific states, tribes, or regions may use TRT and other technical products to identify recovery actions.

threatened species: A species likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

threats: Human activities or natural events (e.g., road building, floodplain development, fish harvest, hatchery influences, volcanoes) that cause or contribute to limiting factors. Threats may exist in the present or be likely to occur in the future.

viability criteria: Criteria defined by NOAA-appointed Technical Recovery Teams to describe a viable salmonid population, based on the biological parameters of abundance, productivity, spatial structure, and diversity. These criteria are used as technical input into the recovery planning process and provide a technical foundation for development of biological delisting criteria.

viability curve: A curve describing combinations of abundance and productivity that yield a particular risk of extinction at a given level of variation over a specified time frame.

viable salmonid population (VSP): an independent population of Pacific salmon or steelhead
trout that has a negligible risk of extinction over a 100-year time frame.

VSP parameters: Abundance, productivity, spatial structure, and diversity. These describe characteristics of salmonid populations that are useful in evaluating population viability.