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Information system and stakeholder symposium to support the conservation of Olympic mudminnow

This is a continuation of a 2017 CREOi award to support assessment of mudminnow populations in Washington State.

Olympic mudminnow (Novumbra hubbsi) are Washington State’s only endemic species, and yet are subject to challenges plaguing many noncommercial freshwater species; namely the lack of consistent research and monitoring leading to knowledge gaps that limit conservation actions. The specific objectives of this proposal were to: (1) Develop a state-wide conservation assessment for Olympic mudminnow; (2) design an initial open-access information system that allows data depository and information portal to facilitate ongoing data collection and support public awareness of Olympic mudminnow; and (3) design and host a stakeholder symposium on the conservation challenges and management opportunities for Olympic mudminnow.

This work has advanced our understanding of the conservation status for Olympic mudminnow by completing key knowledge gaps, as well as identifying conservation challenges and opportunities for the future. First, the foundational work for the conservation assessment was a comprehensive synthesis of all known data sources for Olympic mudminnow, based on research reaching back several decades. These diverse projects were elevated and relevant data assimilated to assess the status of existing knowledge that might be leveraged. Second, a robust monitoring protocol for Olympic mudminnow was developed, and  important progress was made in designing the Olympic Mudminnow Information Portal (OMIP); a centralized resource to access information and data regarding Olympic mudminnow. An open-access, online data platform was launched that allows users to search and download occurrence data with information on collection location and date, and download the entire collection of peer-reviewed publications.

In December 2018, a full-day symposium was hosted by the University of Washington and USFWS. This symposium had the goal of communicating recent research, discussing conservation needs, and demonstrating field monitoring approaches for Olympic mudminnow. The symposium was attended by over 100 participants from a wide diversity of agencies, organizations, tribes and community groups across Washington State. Presentations sought to convey the current state of knowledge related to Olympic mudminnow, including distribution, habitat associations, and conservation and threats. This was followed by topical breakout discussions focused on identifying critical knowledge gaps and research needs, articulating management and conservation challenges on private and public lands, and discussing strategies to raise the awareness of Olympic mudminnow through teaching, communication, and art. These discussions were formalized by creating a list of the 24 most critical research questions, if answered, would have the greatest impact on the practice of conserving Olympic mudminnow. The afternoon consisted of a field trip to Green Cove where sampling approaches and monitoring protocols were demonstrated. ($20,000)