Which species should be included in the EPA’s new species definition?
In a recent op-ed in The New York Times, David Mankoff, a professor of ecology at Columbia University and the author of “The Ecological Imperative,” said he was concerned that the proposed definition of “ecological protection” could result in a new classification of “species.”
The definition is intended to be flexible enough that, for example, the threat of “climate change” could be used as a justification for listing a species that has already been listed as endangered.
Mankhoff’s concern is that the definition could become overly broad and potentially lead to a classification of all of nature as “species,” he wrote.
“The problem with this approach is that species can be both common and rare,” he said.
“In our system, the vast majority of species are common.
The remaining few, of course, are rare.”
As of last week, the EPA had not yet proposed a new species list.
However, Mankons letter argued that the agency should use the definition as the basis for listing new species.
The proposal, which Mankoffs letter was signed by 17 scientists, would be sent to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Committee, the agency’s top advisory body, for comment and possible further action.
In the letter, Manks stated that the species definition is “a useful tool to identify and prioritize species for protection” because it provides “a more accurate measure of the extent of a species’ threat.”
The term “species” has been defined as a grouping of species, with each species group defined by a species name.
The term refers to the physical characteristics of a particular species.
“The term ‘species’ can be applied to many kinds of life, including plants, animals, fungi, viruses, and bacteria,” the letter states.
“Each species is an ecosystem, and ecosystems are often characterized by a diversity of life.
In the United States, we are often in the midst of an unprecedented wave of ecological change and the threat that species represent is increasing.”
However, the definition of species does not necessarily include all life forms, Minskowks letter notes.
“In our society, the term ‘plant’ is often used to describe many different plant species, and it is often accepted as a description of a single species of plant,” the document states.
The letter also points out that the term is often not used for all life in a given ecosystem, with some species found only in certain areas.
Mankoffs proposal would require the EPA to include in the new definition “other plant species that are more abundant in the ecosystem and more widely distributed, including non-native plants such as weeds and herbaceous organisms.”
The new definition could also lead to “additional uncertainty and confusion,” the scientists wrote.
“It is possible that some species, particularly rare ones, may be excluded from the definition, and thus may be ignored or undercounted by some species.”
The scientists also argued that species would likely be classified differently if there was no “catch” or “critter” as a reason to list a new animal or plant as “extinct.”
“A species definition should identify the species that is most important for its protection,” Mankoos letter stated.
“If the species designation fails to do this, the designation may be applied inconsistently and unfairly, or may not capture the true extent of the threats posed by an organism.”
According to a press release issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the proposed new species definitions “provide guidance on the process for species protection decisions, promote coordination among federal, state, tribal, and local agencies, and address the needs of scientific research and conservation.”