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Environmental Law for Biologists

Environmental law has an unquestionable effect on the species, ecosystems, and landscapes that biologists study—and vice-versa, as the research of these biologists frequently informs policy. But because many scientists receive little or no legal training, we know relatively little about the precise ways that laws affect biological systems—and, consequently, about how best to improve these laws and better protect our natural resources.

With Environmental Law for Biologists, ecologist and lawyer Tristan Kimbrell bridges this gap in legal knowledge. Complete with a concise introduction to environmental law and an appendix describing the most important federal and international statutes and treaties discussed, the book is divided into four broad parts: laws that focus on individual species, like invasive species policies, the Endangered Species Act, and international treaties such as CITES; laws that focus on land, from federal public lands to agricultural regulations and urban planning; laws that focus on water, such as the Clean Water Act; and laws that focus on air, such as the Clean Air Act and international measures meant to mitigate global climate change. Written for working biologists and students alike, this book will be a catalyst for both more effective policy and enhanced research, offering hope for the manifold frictions between science and the law.

Read the first chapter.

384 pages | 11 halftones, 1 table | 6 x 9 | © 2016

Biological Sciences: Conservation, Ecology

Earth Sciences: Environment

Law and Legal Studies: Law and Society, Legal History


“This book differs from the more traditional environmental law primers on the market in some important respects. First, the substantive breadth of Law for Biologists is vast. Whereas a standard text used in undergraduate courses might cover a combined ten statutes and treaties, Kimbrell describes four times that many, touching on topics, such as zoning, that the standard primers do not cover. The advantage of such an approach lies in comprehensiveness. It is unlikely that an ecologist will come across a federal law or international treaty that is not set out in the book. . . . Kimbrell incorporates ecological knowledge throughout the book. He describes relevant research on wetlands restoration and wildlife reintroduction, for example. Perhaps more important, he points out where empirical research is lacking. . . . This is a well-researched and well-written reference book. If an ecologist or wildlife biologist seeks a handy paperback reference, this will prove a valuable resource.”

James Salzman, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and UCLA Law School | BioScience

“Any ecologist conducting research in our increasingly human-impacted natural world, whether working within academia or for non-for-profit or other organizations, must deal with environmental law and its mandates. The author of this well-written book, a lawyer, provides a practical guide to help scientists navigate through what often seems like a quagmire of environmental laws that can slow research implementation on public and private lands. Organized around ecosystem types and land tenure, this thorough text systematically examines each law from a working ecologist's perspective.”


Environmental Law for Biologists fills an important niche, providing a solid schooling of environmental law to scientists who desire to apply their knowledge to real world problems—whether combating the global extinction crisis, managing natural resources and ecosystems in a sustainable fashion, or developing adaptations to global climate change. Well written, making very nice use of both key legal and science sources, this book does an excellent job of discussing many key environmental statutes from a scientific point of view, making it useful to students and instructors of ecology, wildlife biology, or natural resource management, as well as to professionals moving into more applied areas.”

Ross T. Jones, Dartmouth College, coauthor of "Law and Ecology: The Rise of the Ecosystem Regime"

“This is a wonderful book. It will be an invaluable reference not just for biologists, but for all sorts of people who want a lucid, concise introduction to environmental law and to the crucial and pressing public policy issues that arise at the intersection of science and law.”

Amy Sinden, Temple University Beasley School of Law

“All ecologists are aware that humans are having an enormous impact on the natural environment, and that societally binding measures are urgently needed to keep in check or reduce such impacts. But few ecologists have any sense of the scope of the environmental laws and regulations that modulate how impacts in practice are reduced, and how such laws do—or do not—reflect understanding of the natural processes governing ecological systems. This well-crafted and insightful book will help ecological and environmental scientists and policy makers to navigate through the often murky seas of environmental law, ranging from the protection of endangered species, to the management of land, to the wise use of freshwater and marine resources, to water and air pollution, and the looming problem of global climate change. The book should also help lawyers perceive how the law interdigitates with environmental science. It moreover at many points helps to sketch potentially valuable avenues for future research. This is an enormously valuable contribution to a truly important arena of human endeavor.”

Robert D. Holt, University of Florida Arthur R. Marshall, Jr., Ecological Sciences Laboratory

Table of Contents

List of Boxes
1 Introduction to Environmental Law
Part I Species
2 Wild Plants and Animals
3 Threatened and Endangered Species
4 International Environmental Laws Protecting Biodiversity
Part II Land
5 Federal Public Lands
6 Private Lands
Part III Water
7 Polluting Lakes, Streams, and Rivers
8 Filling in Streams and Wetlands
9 Oceans and Coasts
Part IV Air
10 Air Pollution
11 Global Climate Change

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