Science narrowly defined is the product of application of the scientific method.
But the vernacular definition of the term “science” in its applications under the ESA encompasses both reliable knowledge and the actions of scientists, including provision of expert opinions (Murphy and Weiland 2016).
during the development of draft recovery plans for listed plant and animal species.” Over the past two decades the agencies increasingly have relied on scientific review to inform a wide range of decisions under the ESA (described in some detail below).
Regulatory peer review—outside input into agency determinations that affect public policy—has become an important means of assuring that the wildlife agencies' determinations are based on reliable knowledge and therefore are lawful (Ruhl and Salzman 2006).
Particularly in those cases when agency determinations have significant societal impacts, we contend that independent science reviews of such determinations should share a common set of attributes to assure they facilitate the use of the best available scientific information in agency decision-making.
Review of the methods of and inferences drawn from scientific investigations is a critical aspect of modern scientific inquiry (see Ziman, 1968, 1969).
Inherent in much of this research, however, are complex biological and ecological relationships in which varying degrees of scientific uncertainty are present.
Addressing this type of uncertainty can affect the economic outcomes related to protected species.
Reliable characterization of the status and trends of species is required to make listing and delisting determinations, resource needs and landscape use by listed species must be quantified to develop recovery plans, and species–habitat relationships need to be analyzed to inform consultations between federal agencies when listed species may be affected by federal agency actions.
Congress anticipated that science and the input of scientists would be essential in implementing nearly all of the Act's provisions.