Terms of Reference for the Scientific Advisory Committee of the

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					                 Species at Risk Research Fund for Ontario - 2012/13

Species at Risk Research Fund for Ontario
   Overview of Scientific Review Panel
         and Review Guidelines

                                     Species at Risk Research Fund for Ontario - 2012/13

Background Information
Given that science is a core component of the ESA (2007) and its implementation,
the Species at Risk Branch recognizes the need to support species at risk
research by credible partners to fill knowledge gaps and enhance our
understanding of Ontario’s species at risk.

In 2009/10, the Species at Risk Research Fund for Ontario (SARRFO) was created
to support high quality scientific research by credible partners that directly assist in
the recovery of species at risk in Ontario.

In 2010/11 the SAR Branch took the lead on the delivery of the 2010/11 SARRFO,
with support from the Ministry’s Applied Research and Development Branch
(SIRD). This project will continue in 2012-13 to support high quality scientific
research projects that directly assist in the recovery of species at risk in Ontario.

                                     Species at Risk Research Fund for Ontario - 2012/13

This manual is designed to guide members of the Scientific Review Panel (SRP)
on the Species at Risk Research Fund for Ontario (SARRFO). It outlines the
duties and responsibilities of SRP members and describes SARRFO guidelines
and policies.

If you have any questions about the content of this manual or subjects not covered
in the text, please contact SAR.stewardship@ontario.ca.

Program overview
Nature of projects supported by the SARRFO
The Species at Risk Research Fund for Ontario is intended to support the
protection and recovery of species at risk in Ontario by providing funds to
individuals and organizations for scientific research activities. SARRFO will invest
in scientific research projects that are of direct benefit to species at risk, including
the collection of baseline information about the threats to a species’ vital rates
(survival and mortality), identification of the significant habitat of a species and
what is needed to ensure that it is conserved, or research that will fill other gaps in
information such as species inventory and contributes to the development of
recovery strategies. When the necessary recovery actions are known, the
SARRFO will support action-oriented projects that address specific steps toward
species recovery, such as applied research that builds on existing knowledge of
species’ ecological and conservation requirements. A list of high priority research
areas is provided – see Appendix A.

Program budget
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources – Species at Risk Branch is providing
the funding for this program.

Scientific Review Panel (SRP)
Composition of SRP
The SRP is composed of members from Species at Risk Branch and Science and
Information Resources Division.

Member selection and term of service
SAR Branch will identify members in consultation with Science and Information
Resources Division.

Roles and Responsibilities
Members of the SRP participate in the evaluation of SARRFO applications
according to the process and criteria outlined in this manual. Members are
                                     Species at Risk Research Fund for Ontario - 2012/13

expected to adhere to SARRFO procedures and policies, including conflict of
interest, confidentiality and proposal review.

SRP members are asked to review and rank applications, excluding those for
which they are in a position of conflict of interest, and submit their rankings to SAR

Subsequent to submitting rankings, SRP members participate in one full-day
committee to arrive at final funding recommendations.

Dealing with applicants
To maintain an unbiased and objective review of applicants, members must not
deal directly with applicants to the SARRFO. This includes advising applicants on
proposal writing or the application process, and discussion of funding decisions.
Questions about proposal writing and project content should be referred to
appropriate SAR Branch staff, as should questions about funding decisions.

Conflict of interest
A conflict of interest is a clash between a committee member’s concern for the
interests of the SARRFO and his or her private interests or allegiances. Members
of the SRP are expected to identify any potential conflicts of interest with any

Members will receive copies of proposals that are eligible for funding. Proposals
and the information contained therein are confidential and not for further circulation
or discussion, outside of the full committee meeting.

Application review process

SRP Review:
Members receive electronic copies of all eligible applications. Each member is
expected to read each proposal and be able to contribute to the discussion of the
application, including recommending a level of funding. Reviewers should be
prepared to present the merits of the proposal and identify areas in need of
improvement. Proposals are evaluated / scored using the SARRFO Evaluation
Criteria, and ranked according to the scheme detailed below.

SRP members should come to the full committee meeting prepared to offer
comments on each proposal. Final ranks and comments will be recorded at the
SRP committee meeting and will be used in providing constructive feedback to all

Ranking scheme

Proposals are to be assigned a ranking of 0 to 10, with ten being the highest rank.
Preliminary rankings are submitted to SAR Branch in advance of the SRP meeting
                                    Species at Risk Research Fund for Ontario - 2012/13

and the overall rankings shared with SRP members to assist them in preparing for
the face-to-face meeting.

A member should not submit a ranking for a project with which the member has a
conflict of interest.

Once all SRP members have submitted their ranking, an average for each project
will be calculated and an ordered list will be made available to the SRP before the
meeting. In order to be able to provide feedback to all applicants, please include
constructive comments, suggestions, etc. for each of your proposals in the “Notes”
column of the spreadsheet.

Scoring for Project Selection:

Scored out of 10 points – see specific evaluation criteria below.

Relevance and Urgency (/2):
What is the significance of the project, why is the proposed work relevant, and how
will it advance knowledge in the area of interest? Is there a demonstrated need to
do the proposed work? What is the status of the target species (provincially, but
also nationally and globally)? Does the proposal match one of the high priority
research areas identified in Appendix A

Link to Recovery Strategy or management plan / support of Recovery Team and
key stakeholders (/2):
Are the relevant portions of the appropriate recovery strategy / management plan
referenced in the proposal? Is the proposed activity an identified priority by the
Recovery Team or species experts? Are Recovery Teams and key stakeholders
actively engaged in the project?

Capability / History of project team (/2):
Do the principle investigator (PI) and collaborators have proven and practical
experience and expertise in this area of interest? Do they have a proven record in
delivering quality conservation related endeavours? Do they have unique
qualifications or contributions? Have the results of previous research been

Work plan and Results / Likelihood of success (/2):
Is the proposed work plan detailed and appropriate for the scope of the project?
Are the objectives, design and methodology practical, appropriate and scientifically
sound? Have concrete, measurable goals and results been identified? Are the
results identified as outputs (deliverables) vs. outcomes (conservation impact)?
Has the applicant indicated how the results will be shared and used to further
conservation of the species?

Budget and partner support (/2):
Is the proposed budget detailed and appropriate for the scope of the project? Does
the application explain why the requested funding is necessary, and demonstrate
                                    Species at Risk Research Fund for Ontario - 2012/13

value for the funding requested? What level of resources will the applicant or other
sponsors provide? Is there an appropriate level of matching funds (cash and in-

Specific Evaluation Criteria

   1. Funds are limited to a maximum of $20,000 per year per project.
   2. Proposals are a maximum of 9 pages in length (excluding CV’s) and must
        be submitted electronically (SAR.stewardship@ontario.ca ) no later than
        11:59 pm on August 24, 2012.
   3. The amount of leveraged support will be one key selection criteria.
        Leverage from external sources is essential and is expected to be both
        direct (matching cash – usually a minimum of 1:1) and additional in kind
   4. Funds will not be awarded directly to government research groups or
        researchers however support from government research groups as
        collaborators and in providing leveraged support is encouraged.
   5. If a number of projects are received on related topics applicants may be
        contacted and asked to consider working together on a joint proposal. Not
        all projects will be funded.
   6. Proposals will be evaluated specifically on the following criteria;
        i)      Design of project
        ii)     Probability of achieving outcomes.
        iii)    Caliber of the research team(i.e., past experience, expertise, and
                capacity to complete the project)
        iv)     Degree of leverage – what % of total project cost is coming from this
        v)      Meeting one or more of the priority research topics on the attached
                SAR priority list.
   7. Proposals must include;
   i)        A detailed research outline with a clear statement of expected out comes
             and products with a time table for delivery;
   ii)       Identification of the research team with CV’s for all key collaborators.
   iii)      Signed letters of commitment for any collaborators contributing leverage.
   iv)       Clear budget table indicating both the full project budget and what the
             fund will cover as part of that budget.
   v)        A clear statement of how the proposed project will meet one or more of
             the identified research priorities

A complete Species at Risk Research Fund for Ontario application must include
the Request for a Permit Under clause 17(2)(b) of the ESA form (if required).

Eligible expenses

SARRFO funding may be applied toward the following types of project costs:

   a. Human Resources Costs: includes wages and mandatory benefits (as
      required by law) for human resources that will be directly involved in the
                                    Species at Risk Research Fund for Ontario - 2012/13

      implementation of the project, including professional and technical
      personnel, project assistants and consultants, but other than those of the
      principal investigator.
   b. Equipment Costs: includes the lease and/or rental of equipment required
      for the completion of the project. In some cases, equipment purchase may
      be considered with proper justification.
   c. Field, Laboratory and Supplies Costs: includes costs for genetic analysis,
      analytical support tools (including computer programs), materials other than
      equipment (e.g. field supplies).
   d. Vehicle Rental, Travel and Fieldwork Expenses: includes vehicle leases,
      operational costs (i.e. fuel, insurance), mileage, accommodations and
      meals. Mileage cannot exceed $0.41/km. Meal allowances are limited by
      meal per day and with receipts; Breakfast: $8.75, Lunch: $11.25, Dinner:
      $20. Costs must be reasonable for activities proposed. Following the
      formal review and approval of applications, recipients may be asked to
      provide documentation of a competitive quoting process for costs over
   e. Student stipend, funding for post-doctoral students: each to a
      maximum of $10,000 per project/year for graduate student support and
      $20,000 per project/year for post-doc support
   f. Documentation of results: including preparation/design/printing of reports
      associated with the project, photographs and /or video footage of research
      in progress.
   g. Communications costs: press releases or public notices in newspapers
      and magazines, and distribution costs.

The following are examples of expenses that do not qualify for SARRFO funding:

     a) Large capital expenses, such as buildings and vehicles;
     b) Costs of purchasing or leasing property, including municipal service fees
        and property taxes;
     c) Salary and benefits of the principal investigator; travel costs for principal
        investigator to attend conferences or meetings, salary and benefits of staff
        already employed by the sponsoring organization;
     d) Administrative overheads (i.e. office space, office supplies, phone,
        computer, fax and photocopy and auditing costs, as well as any project
        management expenses);
     e) Rental fees for research facilities or office space (where relevant the
        sponsoring organization is expected to provide, without charge to the SAR
        Research Fund for Ontario, research and office space and facilities, and
        accounting and administrative services. These items can be counted
        however, toward matching funds.);
     f) Costs incurred or paid prior or after the SAR Research Fund for Ontario
        funding period.
                                     Species at Risk Research Fund for Ontario - 2012/13

Full committee meeting
Members will attend up to a full-day meeting in Peterborough to discuss eligible
applications, and arrive at recommendations for funding. An agenda and materials
will be forwarded in advance. Length of the meeting will depend on the number of
applications received.

Discussion of applications

Proposals that receive the highest overall rankings will be discussed first and in
depth. Remaining proposals may be considered for funding over the course of the
meeting, irrespective of overall ranking, where rankings vary significantly, or if a
member questions an overall ranking.

Before each proposal is discussed, members must declare a conflict of interest.
Members declaring a conflict of interest leave the room while the proposal in
question is discussed. Primary reviewers will be expected to lead off the
discussion by presenting the proposal to the rest of the reviewers, and in particular,
highlighting the project’s merits. All members should be ready to identify any areas
in need of improvement, and are expected to review the budget, evaluate whether
the level of funding being sought is appropriate for the proposed work and make a
recommendation. A general discussion of the application will then follow.
Beginning with the highest or lowest funding recommendation, the group will
collaborate to determine an agreed and appropriate funding amount.

In the event that there may be an opportunity to support additional SARRFO
projects (i.e. slippage in other projects, more funding available), a “B-list” will be
created. Projects on the “B-list” will be ranked in descending order of priority and
will be allocated in that order should circumstances permit.

The SARB will obtain Minister approval to fund SARRFO through the Ministry’s
Transfer Payment approval process.

Copies of proposals
Members should not make or circulate additional copies of applications and may
be required to return all review materials, including copies of the proposals, to SAR

Meeting minutes
Minutes will be recorded by an appointed SAR Branch staff member at the
meeting, and include discussions and comments that are important in arriving at
the committee’s recommendations.

Award administration
                                     Species at Risk Research Fund for Ontario - 2012/13

Notification of award
Details of the SRP discussion are confidential – members must not divulge
recommendations to applicants.

SAR Branch will notify all applicants of final funding decisions. Letters will contain
details as to why an application was approved, rejected, or approved at a lower
level than what was requested. Comments will not be attributed to a specific
committee member, but will provide general context for the funding decision.

SAR Branch will ensure feedback to applicants is both consistent with SARRFO
policies and provides a clear rationale for the funding decision. This also serves to
assist applicants in preparing future SARRFO applications.

All successful applicants must sign a formal Agreement and commit to providing a
final report along with detailed financial documentation as requested by the SAR
Branch at the end of the funding period. SAR Branch, in cooperation with the
SRP, will review and approve final reports.

                                        Species at Risk Research Fund for Ontario - 2012/13

     2012-2013 Species at Risk Research Fund for Ontario
           Priority Species at Risk Research Areas
Proposals for the 2012/13 Species at Risk Research Fund for Ontario should focus on
innovative research that addresses topics contained in the research categories below
which will answer questions that are relevant to the protection and recovery of species at
risk. Proposals that focus on scientific research actions, acquiring and analyzing new
datasets, undertaking new research projects or adding a new component to an on-going
project will be considered. (Note: inventory and monitoring actions associated with a
defined scientific question and methodology may also be considered).

All research project proposals that target a species at risk listed on the Species at Risk in
Ontario (SARO) List will be considered, however, the following priority areas have been
identified for 2012/13.


    Endangered and/or Threatened species;
    Government–supported science-based actions identified in a Government Response
    Science-based actions that address knowledge gaps identified in Recovery Strategies
     for species at risk without a Government Response Statement; or
    For Woodland Caribou, preference will be given to projects that focus on research
     activities based on actions outlined in the Caribou Conservation Plan.
    Identifying research actions that can support achieving overall benefit for identified
     species at risk (please refer to Appendix)
    Inventory and population assessments for identified species to be assessed by
     COSSARO (please refer to Appendix)
    Science-based actions that address knowledge gaps identified for Bobolink/ Eastern
     Meadowlark (please refer to Appendix)
    For links to relevant documents, please see Appendix – Species Reference Lists


 Habitat associations, habitat selection and duration of habitat occupancy

 Investigation into dispersal mechanisms and barriers to movement

 Research to determine diagnostic criteria or methods to determine identity of species at

 Research studies into the detection probabilities and survey effort required to detect
  species at risk in the field

 Species at risk conservation genetics

 Physiological tolerances of species at risk

 Population dynamics and related research, population viability analysis

                                         Species at Risk Research Fund for Ontario - 2012/13

 Investigating (e.g. qualifying, quantifying) the effects of potential or identified threats on
  species at risk

 Exploring innovative approaches to avoiding or minimizing adverse affects on species
  at risk

 Investigating means of achieving an overall benefit to species at risk which, within the
  context of the Endangered Species Act may involve providing the species with a range
  of benefits, including but not limited to:
   • an increase in the number of reproductively-capable individuals of the species
       living in the wild;
   • an increase in the distribution of the species within its natural range;
   • an increase in the viability or resilience of existing population(s);
   • an abatement or reversal of a declining population trend (i.e. reduction of key
       threats to the species survival); or
   • an increase in the quality or amount of habitat for the species.

 Filling knowledge gaps for Data Deficient species will be considered (these species are
   not currently on the SARO List but will be considered). Link to list of Data Deficient

EXAMPLES – Included strictly as examples of what might be considered as a
potential research topic:
 Habitat tenure (e.g. duration of seed bank viability or root dormancy periods, life cycles
  as an indicator of presence)
 Determining the characteristics of over-wintering habitat for at-risk fish species
 Determining criteria to identify hybridization within species at risk plants (e.g. Red
  Mulberry, American Chestnut) and species at risk plants in cultivation (e.g. American
  Ginseng, Virginia Mallow)
 Classification of linear corridors for Woodland Caribou
 Inventory of Hop-tree Borer in an area where its population status is unknown
 Determining the relatedness of populations (e.g. determining the genetic make-up of
  members of a population, in particular when hybridization is suspected)
 Development of species-specific eDNA primers
 Assessing the impacts of invasive species on species at risk (e.g. Round Goby on
  Eastern Sand Darter, European Common Reed on Bent Spikerush)
 Assessing relative importance of identified threats to population sustainability of
  species at risk (e.g. haying mortality and overwintering survival in Bobolink)
 Quantifying the impacts of roads on species at risk population viability
 Determining impacts of wind turbines on species at risk
 Comparing the effectiveness of existing methods or developing new methods to
  minimize adverse affects on species at risk from activities related to:
   • Transportation
   • Residential Development (i.e. small scale development or site work)
   • Aggregate extraction
   • Hydro and Renewable Energy
   • Stewardship / Rehabilitation
   • Forestry
   • Drainage
   • Mineral exploration and Mining

                                   Species at Risk Research Fund for Ontario - 2012/13

                          Species Reference Lists
Current list of species with a final Government Response Statement

American Badger                                   Mudpuppy Mussel
American White Pelican                            Northern Barrens Tiger Beetle
Barn Owl                                          Northern Riffleshell
Bent Spike-rush                                   Ogden’s Pondweed
Common Five-lined Skink (Carolinian and           Pale-bellied Frost Lichen
Southern Shield populations)                      Peregrine Falcon
Cucumber Tree                                     Queensnake
Deerberry                                         Rapids Clubtail
Eastern Flowering Dogwood                         Rayed Bean
Eastern Foxsnake (Carolinian and                  Redside Dace
Georgian Bay populations)                         Round Hickorynut
Eastern Prairie Fringed-orchid                    Round Pigtoe
Engelmann’s Quillwort                             Small Whorled Pogonia
Few-flowered Club-rush                            Snuffbox
Forked Three-awned Grass                          Spotted Wintergreen
Fowler’s Toad                                     Virginia Mallow
Gray Ratsnake (Carolinian and Frontenac           Wavy-rayed Lampmussel
Axis populations)                                 Wood-poppy
Hoary Mountain-mint                               Wood Turtle
Jefferson Salamander                              Woodland Caribou (Forest-dwelling boreal
Kidneyshell                                       population)

Link to Government Response Statements:

Caribou Conservation Plan

For Woodland Caribou proposals, preference will be given to projects that focus on priority
activities which are based on actions as outlined within the Caribou Conservation Plan.
For more information regarding previous and on-going Woodland Caribou research, please
contact the Caribou Conservation Section of the Species at Risk Branch:
Link to Caribou Conservation Plan:

Current list of species with an Ontario Recovery Strategy (and no Government
Response Statement)

Bogbean Buckmoth                                 Southern Hudson Bay - James Bay
Eastern Hog-nosed Snake                          populations)
Four-leaved Milkweed                             Laura’s Clubtail
Horsetail Spike-rush                             Polar Bear
Lake Sturgeon (Great Lakes - Upper               Rusty-patched Bumble Bee
St. Lawrence River, Northwestern, and
Link to Ontario Recovery Strategies:

Current list of species with a draft or final Federal Recovery Strategy (and no
ESA Recovery Strategy or Government Response Statement)

Acadian Flycatcher                               Lake Chubsucker
American Water-willow                            Lakeside Daisy
Bluehearts                                       Loggerhead Shrike
Blunt-lobed Woodsia                              Northern Cricket Frog
Butternut                                        Piping Plover
Dwarf Hackberry                                  Pitcher's Thistle
Dwarf Lake Iris                                  Prothonotary Warbler
Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus                      Red Mulberry
Henslow's Sparrow                                Scarlet Ammannia
Hill's Thistle                                   Spoon-leaved Moss
King Rail                                        Toothcup
Kirtland's Warbler
Link to Federal Recovery Strategies:

Identifying research actions that can support achieving overall benefit for the
following species is of particular interest

SAR Plants (American Chestnut, Butternut, Kentucky Coffee-tree, Willowleaf Aster, Eastern
Flowering Dogwood, Eastern Prairie Fringed-orchid, American Ginseng,)

SAR Lichens (Flooded Jellyskin, Pale-bellied Frost Lichen)

SAR Reptiles and Amphibians (Eastern Foxsnake, Eastern Musk Turtle, Gray Ratsnake,
Jefferson Salamander, Massasauga, Wood Turtle)

SAR Birds (Barn Swallow, Bobolink, Chimney Swift, Eastern Meadowlark, Whip-poor-will)

Aquatic SAR (American Eel, Lake Sturgeon (Great Lakes-Upper St. Lawrence River
population), Lake Sturgeon (Northwestern Ontario population), SAR Mussels, Redside Dace)

SAR Mammals (Woodland Caribou)

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                                      Species at Risk Research Fund for Ontario - 2012/13

Inventory and population assessments for the following species to be assessed by
COSSARO are of particular interest

A Bee Fly (Toxophora amphitea)                     Lilliput
Ashton Cuckoo Bumble Bee                           Northern Bobwhite
False Northwestern Moonwort                        Red Mulberry
Giant Lacewing                                     Riverine Clubtail
Hop-tree Borer                                     Round Hickorynut
Kidneyshell                                        Walsh’s Locust
Lake Huron Locust

Projects focusing on the following priorities identified for Bobolink/ Eastern
Meadowlark are of particular interest

      Determine the extent and rate that the suite of Bobolink/Eastern Meadowlark nesting
       habitats are being lost (or created) in Ontario.
      Estimate the proportion of the populations of Bobolink/Eastern Meadowlark that nest
       in various habitat types in Ontario.
      Determine the relative importance (‘quality’) of each of the habitat types to
       Bobolinks/Eastern Meadowlarks, based on breeding productivity.
      Assess potential effects of emerging biofuel industry.
      Examine the degree to which conservation attention should be focused differentially
       within different agricultural sectors
      Determine the extent to which changes in hay composition (e.g., alfalfa-dominated
       crops), haying practices (e.g., cutting dates and frequencies, technological changes in
       harvesting equipment and methods), grazing intensities and rotations, and farm size
       (and fragmentation) may be affecting Bobolink/Eastern Meadowlark populations.
      Determine the relative degree to which various socio-economic factors in Ontario are
       causing: 1) direct habitat loss (e.g., farm abandonment, conversion to grain and
       oilseed crops, incentives and attitudes promoting large-scale tree planting programs);
       and 2) degradation of habitat quality (e.g., early or frequent haying, habitat
       fragmentation, high stocking rates of grazers).
      Examine the potential for engagement in different kinds of BMP practices among the
       full range of landowners (e.g., beef, dairy, sheep, horse, and ‘hobby farmers’, as well
       as non-agricultural rural, government, non-government landowners), with and without
       potential incentives.

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