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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Practical Applications of Ecological Risk Assessment for Endangered Species

Region 3, December 5, 2013

Dr. Lisa Williams of the East Lansing Field Office taught approximately 40 state, federal and tribal participants in an Ecological Risk Assessment class about several practical applications of risk assessment to analyze potential impacts to threatened and endangered species. She presented a series of case studies that illustrated the principles taught in the first two days of the three-day course by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service instructors on December 3-5, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. For the first case study she described a preliminary risk assessment for potential impacts to piping plover from applications of lampricides in Great Lakes tributaries, the risk management actions that were taken to prevent exposure of plovers to lampricide treatment areas as a result, additional data collections that were made to refine the risk assessment, and then the revised risk management actions that were able to be allowed. In the second study presented, she described how the Service and U.S. Geological Survey worked together to design studies to evaluate the potential impacts of lampricide on the snuffbox mussel and its host fish before the mussel was listed as an endangered species. In the third case study, she described how quantitative sensitivity analysis from ecological risk assessment was used to systematically evaluate the impact of various assumptions on the calculation of the number of Kirtland’s warblers likely to be killed by 49 communication towers over 30 years. Dr. Williams also joined the other instructors in a panel discussion on risk management and the importance of connecting risk assessment and risk management.

Contact Info: Larry Dean, 612-713-5312, Larry_Dean@fws.gov