Novel data show expert wildlife agencies are indispensable to protecting endangered species

Michael J. Evans, Jacob W. Malcom and Ya-Wei Li

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Nov 09, 2018
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Received Date: 26th October 18

The US Endangered Species Act (ESA) is the world’s strongest law protecting biodiversity. We provide the first comprehensive evaluation of how the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) implements one of the ESA's most important conservation programs – consultation to ensure federal actions do not jeopardize the existence of listed species.  Data from all 24,893 consultations recorded by NMFS from 2000 - 2017 shows federal agencies frequently misestimated how their actions would affect listed species, relative to the conclusions of species experts at NMFS.  Most often, agencies underestimated effects. In 22 consultations covering 14 species, agencies concluded that an action would not harm species while NMFS determined the action would jeopardize species’ existence. These results affirm the importance of NMFS role in preventing federal actions from jeopardizing listed species. Excluding expert agencies from consultation compromises listed species conservation, but we identify approaches to improve the efficiency of the ESA without sacrificing species protections.

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This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.


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