EPA EcoBox Tools by Receptors - Endangered, Threatened or Other Species of Concern
Endangered species are those plants and animals that have become so rare they are in danger of becoming extinct. Threatened species are plants and animals that are likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of their ranges. Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), all federal agencies are required to ensure that their regulatory actions are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of threatened or endangered species or destroy or adversely modify their critical habitat. The ESA is administered by the Interior Department's Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, depending on the species. EPA's general process for assessing risks to threatened and endangered species and their habitats includes a formal consultation with the FWS and NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service. Species may be protected under other Federal laws such as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act. Additional species of special concern can be designated at the state level.
Other species of concern that might be considered in an ERA include keystone species—species whose presence dramatically alters the structure and dynamics of ecological systems—and susceptible species. Ecological receptors are considered susceptible when they are sensitive to a stressor to which they are or may be exposed. For example, a mammal such as a mink could be selected as a receptor for a bioaccumulative stressorbioaccumulative stressorAny physical, chemical, or biological entity that can induce an adverse response (synonymous with agent) that has an increase in concentration in the biological organism over time. such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), since mink is documented to be sensitive to the bioaccumulation of PCBs.
Information and data sources are available to assist with identifying potential threatened and endangered species to use as receptors in an ERA. Please note that many resources from private organizations also provide species lists, but are not included in the tool table below. The resources compiled here are generally limited to freely available resources from U.S. state and federal sources.
In addition to the tools shown below, there are many available sources of information and data related to the fate and transport of contaminants in environmental media and the transfer of contaminants from an environmental medium to receptor. See the Chemical module of the Stressors Tool Set for information and tools on fate and transport related to chemical stressors.
See the Food Chains and Webs module of the Exposure Pathways (Media) Tool Set for information, data sources, and modeling tools available to help in the evaluation of food chain and food web contaminant transfers in an ERA.