Missing the Link: The Importance of Keeping Ecosystems Intact and What the Endangered Species Act Suggests We Do about It

By Robbins, Kalyani | Environmental Law, Summer 2007 | Go to article overview

Missing the Link: The Importance of Keeping Ecosystems Intact and What the Endangered Species Act Suggests We Do about It


Robbins, Kalyani, Environmental Law


  I. INTRODUCTION
 II. BACKGROUND
     A. Listing Species Under the ESA
     B. Defining "Species" to Include "Distinct Population Segments"
     C. The DPS Policy
III. SPECIES INTERACTIVITY AND ECOSYSTEM FUNCTIONING
     A. While You Were Sleeping
     B. Waking Up: Scientists Are Analyzing These Data and Providing
        Good Food for Policy
        1. Keystone Species
           a. Top Predators
           b. Ecosystem Engineers
           c. Competitors and Facilitators
        2. Species Interactivity on a Continuum
 IV. THE DPS POLICY MUST BE CHANGED TO CONSIDER A POPULATION'S
     SIGNIFICANCE TO ITS ECOSYSTEM
     A. Individual Ecosystem Survival: Why Should We Care?
     B. What Needs To Be Changed and How
     C. Why This is Practicable
     D. Context, and Why the DPS Policy is the Best One for Applying
        This Science
  V. THE LAST WORD

I. INTRODUCTION

The very first goal Congress expressed in the "Purposes" subsection of the Endangered Species Act (1) was "to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which threatened and endangered species depend may be conserved." (2) This clear statement, much like the recognition of species' "ecological" value, (3) demonstrates an understanding of the interdependence of species and their ecosystems, as well as a corresponding intent to protect both. Indeed, one cannot be saved without the other.

In spite of how clearly Congress expressed its intent to conserve ecosystems in the text of the Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the agencies charged with administering the Act, claim that they have no authority to do so. (4) Granted, most of the Act is focused on direct species protection via the process of listing certain species for special protections. (5) However, in 1978, Congress amended the Act in a manner that had the potential to fill the void in ecosystem protection by allowing one population of a given species to be separately listed while leaving the rest of that species (perhaps healthy in other regions) unprotected. (6) Species can be of varying value to their ecosystems, which should be treated as an important consideration in protecting individual populations.

The goal of this Article is to combine consideration of the purposes of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) with an understanding of the science of ecosystem functioning in order to promote better policy. Part II of this Article will provide some of the background information needed for a basic understanding of the regulatory framework at issue throughout the Article. Then, in Part III, I will provide a relatively in-depth discussion of the complexities of ecosystem science, in a manner accessible to non-scientists (like myself), in the hope that better understanding will lead to a greater willingness to change policy. Part IV will apply this science to determine how we might best work toward the goals of the ESA, making a case for better protection of ecosystems and suggesting how to go about it. The Article will then conclude with a plea for policy change in light of the previous discussions.

II. BACKGROUND

A. lasting Species Under the ESA

The ESA was enacted in 1973 as the first comprehensive U.S. effort to preserve biodiversity. (7) While there are other components to the statute, the one most relevant to this discussion is the process created for listing threatened or endangered species to recieve substantial protections via the various other provisions in the Act. (8) The power to list these species belongs to the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce, who have delegated that power to FWS and NMFS, respectively (collectively "the Services"). (9) Getting on this list is an extremely important achievement because once a species is listed its preservation becomes more important than competing economic interests. (10)

A species is endangered if it "is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range," (11) and it is threatened if it "is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Missing the Link: The Importance of Keeping Ecosystems Intact and What the Endangered Species Act Suggests We Do about It
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.