Endangered Species
Mountain-Prairie Region
PEER REVIEW

About the Document:

 

Title: Revised Proposed Rule to Amend the Listing for the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei) to Specify Over What Portion of Its Range the Subspecies is Threatened.

 

Estimated Peer Review Timeline:

 

Draft document disseminated:  November 7, 2007

 

 Peer review initiated: November 2007

 

 Peer review to be completed by: January 22, 2008 (or the close of the comment period)

 

 Document to be finalized:  July 30, 2008

 

About the Peer Review Process:

 

In accordance with our July 1, 1994 peer review policy (59 FR 34270), we intend to solicit independent scientific reviews of the information contained in our November 7, 2007 (72 FR 62992) proposal to amend the listing for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, Zapus hudsonius preblei, to specify over what portion of its range the subspecies is threatened.  This review will occur concurrently with the public comment period for the proposed action.  This review will also satisfy the peer review requirements of the Office of Management and Budget’s Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review.

 

We will seek the expert opinions of appropriate and independent specialists regarding this proposal.  In this case, we will seek the comments of two sets of reviewers including five experts to review our taxonomic considerations and five additional experts to review the remainder of the proposal. 

 

Taxonomy

 

We intend to contact the same five experts invited to provide comments on the previous proposed rule (70 FR 5404, February 2, 2005; 71 FR 8556, February 17, 2006; 71 FR 16090, March 30, 2006).  We selected these reviewers for their expertise in genetics, systematics, and small mammals.  Peer reviewers employed by the Service for previous Preble’s related reviews were excluded from this search (see 2006 Peer Review Plan).  We will ask these reviewers to review this proposal’s taxonomic discussion.  We will send the necessary materials to the reviewers in November 2007.  Responses will be requested by the end of the comment period.

 

The Service will provide each peer reviewer with a letter explaining his or her role and instructions for fulfilling that role, the proposed rule, a full list of citations, and all citations (or for some longer documents, the relevant pages of the document) in electronic format on a CD.  The purpose of seeking independent peer review is to ensure use of the best scientific and commercial information available and to ensure and to maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of the information upon which the Service’s decision is based, as well as to ensure that reviews by recognized experts are incorporated into the final document.  Peer reviewers will be asked not to provide advice on policy.  Instead, the charge to the reviewers will be to review the science relevant to our decision and our use of said science, focusing their review on identifying and characterizing scientific uncertainties.  Additionally, peer reviewers will be asked to consider the following questions and to provide any other relevant comments, criticisms, or thoughts:

 

1.  Is our description and analysis of the taxonomic status of the species accurate?

 

2.  Are there any significant oversights, omissions or inconsistencies in the  taxonomic portion of proposed rule?

 

3.  Are our conclusions logical and supported by the evidence we provide?

4.  Did we include all necessary and pertinent literature to support our assumptions and conclusions?

Status

 

Second, we will contact a minimum of five additional experts to review the remainder of this proposal, including the significant portion of the range analysis.

 

On November 16, 2007, solicitations were sent to State wildlife agencies seeking nominations of potential peer reviewers.  We requested that these groups consider the following criteria for any potential nomination.

 

  • Expertise:  The reviewers should have knowledge, experience, and skills in one or more of the following areas: Preble’s meadow jumping mouse or small-mammal biology; conservation biology; population dynamics and extinction risk; riparian-community ecology and status; land use and land management; planning, development trends and land-use conflicts; and/or other environmental pressures within the range of these species.

  • Independence:  The reviewers should not be employed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Academic and consulting scientists should have sufficient independence from the Service if the government supports their work.

  • Objectivity:  The reviewers should be recognized by their peers as being objective, open-minded, and thoughtful.  In addition, the reviewer should be comfortable sharing his or her knowledge and perspectives and openly identifying his or her knowledge gaps.

  • Advocacy:  The reviewers should not be known or recognized for an affiliation with an advocacy position regarding the protection of this species under the Endangered Species Act.

  • Conflict of Interest:  The reviewers should not have any financial or other interest that could impair his or her objectivity or create an unfair competitive advantage. 

While expertise is the primary consideration, the Service will select peer reviewers (considering, but not limited to, these nominations) that add to a diversity of scientific perspectives relevant to the species.  Under certain circumstances some conflict may be unavoidable in order to obtain the necessary expertise.  If such a situation arises, we will disclose these real or perceived conflicts in the administrative record for the decision and the agency shall inform potential reviewers of this likely disclosure at the time they are recruited.  We will send the necessary materials to the reviewers in November 2007.  Responses will be requested by the end of the comment period.

 

The Service will provide each peer reviewer with information explaining his or her role and instructions for fulfilling that role, the proposed rule, a full list of citations, and all citations (or for some longer documents, the relevant pages of the document) in electronic format on a CD.  The purpose of seeking independent peer review is to ensure use of the best scientific and commercial information available and to ensure and to maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of the information upon which the Service’s decision is based, as well as to ensure that reviews by recognized experts are incorporated into the final document.  Peer reviewers will be asked not to provide advice on policy.  Instead, the charge to the reviewers will be to review the science relevant to our decision and our use of said science, focusing their review on identifying and characterizing scientific uncertainties.  Additionally, peer reviewers will be asked to consider the following questions and to provide any other relevant comments, criticisms, or thoughts:

 

1.   Is our description and analysis of the biology, habitat, population trends, historic and current distribution of the species accurate?

 

 2.   Does our document provide accurate and adequate review and analysis of the factors affecting the species?

 

3.   Are there any significant oversights, omissions or inconsistencies in the  proposed rule?

 

4.   Are our conclusions logical and supported by the evidence we provide?

 

5.   Did we include all necessary and pertinent literature to support our assumptions and conclusions?

 

Both sets of peer reviewers will provide individual, written responses to the Service.  Peer reviews will volunteer their time.  Reviewers will be advised that their reviews, including their names and affiliations, will (1) be included in the official record for this review, and (2), once all the reviews are completed, they will be available to the public upon request.  We will summarize and respond to the issues raised by the peer reviewers in the record supporting our determination.

 

About Public Participation:

 

The peer review process will be initiated shortly.  The public may comment on the approach of this peer review through the normal comment process associated with the proposed rule.  Public comments are scheduled to be accepted until January 22, 2008.  If you wish to comment, you may submit comments and materials concerning this proposal by any of the following methods:

 

(1) By mail to: Susan Linner, Field Supervisor, Colorado Field Office, Ecological Services, P.O. Box 25486, MS-65412, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225.

 

(2) By hand-delivery to: Susan Linner, Colorado Field Office at 134 Union Blvd.,Suite 670, Lakewood, CO 80228.

 

(3) By fax to: (303) 236-4005.

 

(4) By electronic mail (e-mail) to: FW6_PMJM@fws.gov.

 

(5) By the Federal eRulemaking Portal at: http://www.regulations.gov.

Follow
the instructions on that website for submitting comments.

 

The public also had opportunity to provide comments on the previously proposed rule (70 FR 5404, February 2, 2005; 71 FR 8556, February 17, 2006; 71 FR 16090, March 30, 2006).

 

 Contact:
For further information contact Susan Linner, Field Supervisor, Colorado Field Office at (303) 236-4773.

Last updated: May 18, 2011