Peer Review of Scientific Information
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5-year Status Review of the Leatherback Sea Turtle

About the Document

Title:  5-year Status Review of the Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)

Purpose: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is conducting a 5-year status review of the federally listed, endangered leatherback sea turtle under section 4 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The purpose of reviews conducted under this section of the Act is to ensure that the classification of species as threatened or endangered on the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (50 CFR 17.11 and 17.12) is accurate. A 5-year review is an assessment of the best scientific and commercial data available at the time of the review. On the basis of such reviews, we determine whether or not any species should be removed from the List (delisted), or reclassified from endangered to threatened or from threatened to endangered. Delisting a species must be supported by the best scientific and commercial data available and only considered if such data substantiate that the species is neither endangered nor threatened for one or more of the following reasons: (1) the species is considered extinct; (2) the species is considered to be recovered; and/or (3) the original data available when the species was listed, or the interpretation of such data, were in error. Any change in Federal classification would require a separate rulemaking process.

About the Peer Review Process

Type of Review:  Influential

Date of Peer Review:  Peer review will occur between March and May 2007.

Estimated Dissemination Date of the Final 5-year Review Document: August 31, 2007.

Process:  The Service will conduct external peer review of this document through electronic letters sent to three or more independent scientific reviewers with expertise in leatherback sea turtle biology and conservation. The Service will make formal requests for peer review from WIDECAST, Drexel University, CONANP - Mexico, University of Paris, Wildlife Conservation Society - Gabon, Dalhousie University, Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources, and others as deemed appropriate. Peer review of the scientific information used in our analysis of the status of the leatherback and the validity of the data will be requested, but peer reviewers will not be asked to provide recommendations on the legal status of the species. The Service will use the information received from the peer review, as appropriate, in the conclusions and recommendations for the 5-year review of the leatherback sea turtle.

About Public Participation

Public comments on the 5-year review for the leatherback sea turtle were sought with a Federal Register announcement on April 21, 2005; press release of this announcement to interested parties; and posting of this announcement on the Service's North Florida Field Office web page. The Service will post a notice on its website of the recommendation resulting from the 5-year review of the leatherback sea turtle, including a summary of the results of the peer review process. If this 5-year review results in a recommendation to change the status of the leatherback, additional public review and comment will be sought within the proposed rulemaking process.

This peer review plan is made available on this website to allow the public to monitor our compliance with the Office of Management and Budget’s Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review.



Sandy MacPherson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville Ecological Services Office, 904-232-2580



Last updated: January 6, 2010