RSOI: Environmental DNA Sampling in the Lower Roanoke River

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
FORT WORTH DISTRICT, CORPS OF ENGINEERS
P.O. BOX 17300
FORT WORTH, TX  76102-0300

REQUEST FOR STATEMENT OF INTEREST Number W9126G-21-2-SOI-4742
Project to be initiated in 2021

Responses due by 5:00 P.M., Central Time, on 27 July 2021.

Applicants must be a member in one of the Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units (CESU): Piedmont – South Atlantic Coast, Chesapeake Watershed, Southern Appalachian Mountains

Project Title: Environmental DNA Sampling in the Lower Roanoke River

Responses to this Request for Statements of Interest (RSOI) will be used to identify potential investigators for a project to be funded by the US Army Corps of Engineers (Wilmington District)-Sustainable Rivers Program. The work involves comprehensive support of researchers in studying the relationship between river flows and rare fish using Environmental DNA (eDNA) while all in accordance with 10 U.S.C. § 2358 – Research and Development.

Approximately $65,000.00 is expected to be available to support this project, for the base period. Additional funding may be available for follow on work in subsequent fiscal years to the successful recipient/awardee.

Background:
The Roanoke River is considered one of the most important riverine systems for diadromous fish reproduction on the Atlantic seaboard. Beginning in 2016, the Corps revised flood operations at John H. Kerr Hydropower project to implement a more naturally variable flow regime, referred to as Quasi-Run-of-River (QRR). Under QRR, flood control releases mimic the natural inflows to the project to the extent possible while maintaining other project purposes. Intensive monitoring of diadromous fish recruitment has occurred on the Roanoke both pre and post QRR, yet limited work to date has connected observed population data for juvenile alosines (blueback herring, alewife, hickory shad) with river flow events.

The Roanoke River is in the nationwide Sustainable Rivers Program as one of the original eight rivers from 2002. It is an ideal river to test new technologies to understand effects of water management decisions, and to relate this work to how it can be used nationwide. In this instance, the Corps is interested in using environmental DNA (eDNA) to understand the relationship between flows and the response from rare fish. This includes spatial and temporal variability to gather more information about where the juveniles are congregating, the condition of that habitat, and the flow regimes associated with the presence of the fish. The e-DNA technology will be assessed to understand if it is an appropriate tool to inform release decisions at Corps reservoirs.

Type of Award:
Authority to enter into a Cooperative Agreement: 10 U.S.C. § 2358 – Research and Development for Environmental DNA Sampling in the Lower Roanoke River.

In accordance with section 6305 – Using cooperative agreements of the Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreements Act of 1977 (31 U.S.C. § 6301 et seq.), all CESU projects must carry out a public purpose of support or stimulation, instead of acquiring goods or services for the exclusive direct benefit of the United States Government.

In accordance with section 6305 – Using cooperative agreements of the Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreements Act of 1977 (31 U.S.C. § 6301 et seq.), substantial involvement is expected between the federal partner and the nonfederal partner when carrying out the activities specified in the project agreement. The exact nature of the government’s involvement will be defined in the statement of objectives, issued with a request for full proposal.

As a result, it is anticipated that a cooperative agreement through the CESU program will be awarded. Such awards may be administered through a CESU only upon mutual agreement and official authorization by both parties of the acceptance of the application of the CESU Network IDC rate (17.5%).

Note: Must be a non-federal partner in the Piedmont – South Atlantic Coast, Chesapeake Watershed, or Southern Appalachian Mountains CESU Unit Region.

Brief Description of Anticipated Work (please refer to Statement of Objectives for complete detailed objectives and tasks):
This project focuses on the following objectives:

  1. Gather data about how river flows affect juvenile fish in the Roanoke River;
  2. Examine the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) as a tool to study the presence or absence of fish in varying flow;
  3. Refine eDNA as a tool to correlate to fish abundance specific to the Roanoke River;
  4. Provide USACE – Wilmington District with insight about how their water releases from Kerr Reservoir influence fish, especially juvenile diadromous blueback herring and alewife;
  5. Put the subject work in a broader context of considering ways the Corps can use eDNA technology to inform reservoir releases in other rivers.

This project requires the following tasks:

  1. Take weekly eDNA samples for blueback herring throughout the adult spawning season and juvenile season (approximately Feb through Aug) at a minimum of five locations in the lower Roanoke River Basin.
  2. Correlate the results of the presence or absence of eDNA with the flow in the river.
  3. At several time-periods during the months of Feb through August, conduct traditional netting and/or electrofishing sampling in areas of known fish presence to classify trends in fish abundance with eDNA results.
  4. Within analyzing the trends between flows and fish presence/ absence and movement, provide detailed analysis of fish results for the weeks before, during, and after water flows go above 20,000 cfs at the Roanoke Rapids location.
  5. Use the SRP network to share lessons learned, methods, and general guidelines of using eDNA to study water releases and fisheries.
  6. Provide quarterly check-ins with the Corps on sampling status, data analysis, and any early results.
  7. Summarize data into a yearly report at the conclusion of data sampling and analysis.
  8. Potential for additional analysis – with eDNA samples collected in Task 1, compare eDNA results to additional fish species of Atlantic sturgeon, alewife, and other species agreed upon among Wilmington District and the research team.

Note: At this time, we are only requesting that you demonstrate available qualifications and skills for performing similar or same type of work. You will be evaluated for request for a proposal based on skills, qualifications and certifications demonstrated in your SOI.

Preference will be given to statements of interest that demonstrate field technicians that have working knowledge of the Roanoke River and comprehensive knowledge of its species and demonstrate good working relationships with collaborating partners in the basin. eDNA sampling will be dependent upon weather events, thus quick response time and mobility to sampling locations is necessary. Ability to collect samples, apply baseline data, and run necessary lab analyses is mandatory.

Period of Performance.
The base period of performance is anticipated to be twelve (12) months from date of award. Four option periods, extending for 12 months each, are anticipated subject to availability of funds.

Base Period (Mandatory Tasks) will be for a 12-month period from the award.

Base Period (Optional Tasks) will be for a 12-month period from the award and shall be exercised prior to expiration of the Base Period (Mandatory Tasks).

Option Period 1 (Mandatory Tasks) will be for a 12-month period from the award and shall be exercised prior to the expiration of the Base Period (Mandatory Tasks).

Option Period 1 (Optional Tasks) will be for a 12-month period from the award and shall be exercised prior to the expiration of Option Period 1 (Mandatory Tasks).

Option Period 2 (Mandatory Tasks) will be for a 12-month period from the award and shall be exercised prior to the expiration of Option Period 1 (Mandatory Tasks).

Option Period 2 (Optional Tasks) will be for a 12-month period from the award and shall be exercised prior to the expiration of Option Period 2 (Mandatory Tasks).

Option Period 3 (Mandatory Tasks) will be for a 12-month period from the award and shall be exercised prior to the expiration of Option Period 2 (Mandatory Tasks).

Option Period 3 (Optional Tasks) will be for a 12-month period from the award and shall be exercised prior to the expiration of Option Period 3 (Mandatory Tasks).

Option Period 4 (Mandatory Tasks) will be for a 12-month period from the award and shall be exercised prior to the expiration of Option Period 3 (Mandatory Tasks).

Option Period 4 (Optional Tasks) will be for a 12-month period from the award and shall be exercised prior to the expiration of Option Period 4 (Mandatory Tasks)

Materials Requested for Statement of Interest/Qualifications:

Please provide the following via e-mail attachment to: sandra.justman@usace.army.mil and Gregory.W.Bonnell@usace.army.mil (Maximum length: 2 pages, single-spaced 12 pt. font).

  • Name, Organization, Cage Code, Duns number, and Contact Information (Email)
  • Brief Statement of Qualifications (including):
    • Biographical Sketch,
    • Relevant past projects and clients with brief descriptions of these projects,
    • Staff, faculty or students available to work on this project and their areas of expertise,
    • Any brief description of capabilities to successfully complete the project you may wish to add (e.g., equipment, laboratory facilities, greenhouse facilities, field facilities, etc.).
    • Response time and proximity to the Roanoke River,
    • Any past or existing research in the Roanoke River regarding fish species and sampling (traditional and eDNA) and any description of relationships with basin stakeholders and partners.
  • Support personnel should have:
    • A QA/QC laboratory to analyze eDNA samples
    • Extensive experience with field sampling and laboratory technology for eDNA analysis
    • Past research demonstrating knowledge of Roanoke River fish species and river dynamics.

Note: A full study proposal and proposed budget are NOT requested at this time.

Review of Statements Received: All statements of interest received will be evaluated by a  board comprised of one or more people at the receiving installation or activity, who will determine which statement(s) best meet the program objectives. Based on a review of the Statements of Interest received, an investigator or investigators will be invited to prepare a full study proposal. Statements will be evaluated based on the investigator’s specific experience and capabilities in areas related to the study requirements.

Please send responses or direct questions to:

Grants Specialist
USACE Fort. Worth District
Sandra.justman@usace.army.mil

Greg Bonnell
Project Manager
Regional Planning and Environmental Center
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Cell: (918) 951-0591
Email: Gregory.W.Bonnell@usace.army.mil

Timeline for Review of Statements of Interest: RSOI required to be posted on www.Grants.gov for 30 days, prior to the Government making a decision and requesting full proposals. Responses due by 5:00 P.M., Central Time, on 27 July 2021.

Click here for a PDF of the full RSOI with Statement of Objectives. 

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