Biological Populations as Indicators of Environmental Change - Volume 1
United States Environmental Protection Agency Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation
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This report, "Biological Populations as Indicators of Environmental Change - Volume 1" is a review of scientific literature on biological phenomena frequently noted in the popular press, to determine the degree to which scientists are reporting that the phenomena may be indicators of environmental changes. Noticing that reports of events, such as dwindling numbers of warblers in our forests and apparent reductions of frogs and salamanders observed worldwide, were appearing almost weekly in news features and science pages of major newspapers, the Environmental Results Branch (ERB) of the Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation (OPPE), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) began an attempt to identify existing knowledge about these phenomena. Of particular interest was considering whether these phenomena, alone or in combination, might be indicators of environmental change at the regional, continental, hemispheric, or global scales. The first volume reviews eight of these phenomena; planned future volumes will address additional occurences and continue to monitor the literature on the topics in this volume. Selection of these eight topics is not an indication that we believe these to be the "best" indicators of environmental change; simply these appeared frequently in the popular press and data was more plentiful than for other topics. Likewise neither do we suggest that one can determine if these changes are from natural causes or are anthropogenic (induced by man). This is a scientific literature review "directed" by a screen of articles appearing in the popular press; we make no independent recommendations nor conclusions in regard to causes or selection of indicators of environmental change. As part of this reference/educational document, extensive bibliographies are included. These bibliographies, the scientific references cited in the text and included within each chapter as "References", and popular literature cited as "Popular Press Bibliography", should serve as tools for scientists and the general public alike.