Independent Scientific Review Under the Endangered Species Act


Paul Weiland coauthored the article "Independent Scientific Review Under The Endangered Species Act" for BioScience, the American Institute of Biological Sciences' scholarly journal.  Paul coauthored the article with Dr. Dennis Murphy of the University of Nevada, Reno.

The directive from Congress in the Endangered Species Act obliging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, along with other federal agencies, to use the best available scientific information in their determinations—and calls from stakeholder communities to show that they have done so—have led the federal wildlife agencies to seek external, expert review of their determinations with increasing frequency over time.

The article surveys the agency determinations that may be subject to independent science review and the technical tasks embedded in those determinations that can benefit from such review.  The article also identifies common failures in scientific review that compromise the quality and reliability of agency determinations and then describes the attributes of independent scientific reviews that enable the agencies to discharge their statutory duties while seeking to conserve threatened and endangered species and the ecosystems on which they depend. 

Founded in 1947, The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) scientific association dedicated to advancing biological research and education for the welfare of society.  AIBS works to ensure that the public, legislators, funders, and the community of biologists have access to and use information that will guide them in making informed decisions about matters that require biological knowledge.  Today, AIBS has over 100 member organizations and is headquartered in McLean, VA, with a Public Policy Office in Washington, DC.  Its approximately 30 staff members work to achieve its mission by publishing the peer-reviewed journal BioScience and the education website,, by providing scientific peer-review and advisory services to government agencies and other clients, and by collaborating with scientific organizations to advance public policy, education, and the public understanding of science.

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