American Society of Naturalists

A membership society whose goal is to advance and to diffuse knowledge of organic evolution and other broad biological principles so as to enhance the conceptual unification of the biological sciences.

Letter to the U.S. Congress on the Endangered Species Act

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Dear Congress,

We write to express our deep concern over the proposed overhaul of the Endangered Species Act (HR 717, the Listing Reform Act).  We urge Congress to maintain a commitment to the conservation of biodiversity. 
The natural world is not a luxury.  Healthy ecosystems underlie key industries, including agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and they provide basic services to humanity, including the purification of air, water and soil, and the control of pests and diseases. Diverse species communities causally contribute to these basic services and are the source of discoveries in a variety of fields, from drug development to biomedical engineering.

Biodiversity also has intrinsic value, in its beauty and its invitation to engage with nature.  We are the custodians of our natural world and would be negligent if we deny future generations the experience of nature’s beauty, the sport of interacting with it, and the knowledge that comes from it.  

Conservation efforts must be supported to sustain biodiversity and to maintain healthy and livable environments for human populations.  Humans cannot live without nature; nature, in turn, needs the mindful curation by human populations to keep a balance between short-term economic benefit and long-term viability.  Particularly at risk are endangered species – once lost these cannot be regained; once gone, humans would permanently lose the cultural enrichment these species provide and the benefits they could have granted as sources of new medicines, improved crops, or technological innovations.  As efforts are implemented to preserve endangered species, other species and whole ecosystems benefit.

Humans are interdependent on nature in a deep and pervasive manner, yet many people are unaware of and undervalue this dependence.  This is a dangerous state of affairs.  Congress needs to support efforts to sustain the basic systems upon which humans depend, as well as efforts to raise public awareness of those dependencies.  We urge congress to support conservation efforts to maintain biodiversity and the health of the environment and of the human populations that depend on it.  


Dr. Kathleen Donohue
President, American Society of Naturalists

Dr. Sally Otto
President, Society for the Study of Evolution