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Simple-but-sound methods for estimating the value of changes in biodiversity for biological pest control in agriculture


  • Letourneau, Deborah K.
  • Ando, Amy W.
  • Jedlicka, Julie A.
  • Narwani, Anita
  • Barbier, Edward


Recent meta-analyses indicate that an increase in the number of natural enemy species raises the overall effectiveness of biological control of insect pests in agricultural settings. Although economic valuations of biological pest control in agriculture show an impressive cost savings from this ecosystem service, no direct estimate of the value of biodiversity for biological control has been attempted. We apply a basic microeconomic model for estimating the value of changes in the richness of arthropod natural enemies or in functional diversity for biological pest control for two sample crops using experimental results reported in the ecological literature. Market-based outcomes were driven by changes in crop yields associated with experimental reductions in natural enemy species richness, and modified by supply shifts and price elasticities. We show how our simple model differs from common approaches used in the ecological literature, and explain why this alternative model more accurately estimates societal well-being for consumers and producers participating in these crop markets. We conclude by discussing the additional research and data needed to make economic valuation of ecosystem services in agricultural settings more feasible, rigorous, and realistic in the future.

Suggested Citation

  • Letourneau, Deborah K. & Ando, Amy W. & Jedlicka, Julie A. & Narwani, Anita & Barbier, Edward, 2015. "Simple-but-sound methods for estimating the value of changes in biodiversity for biological pest control in agriculture," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 215-225.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:120:y:2015:i:c:p:215-225
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2015.10.015

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ornelas, Fermin & Shumway, C. Richard, 1993. "Supply Response and Impact of Government-Supported Crops on the Texas Vegetable Industry," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(1), pages 27-36, April.
    2. Volpe, Richard & Leibtag, Ephraim S. & Roeger, Edward, 2013. "How Transport Costs Affect Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Prices," Economic Research Report 161355, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    3. Gallai, Nicola & Salles, Jean-Michel & Settele, Josef & Vaissière, Bernard E., 2009. "Economic valuation of the vulnerability of world agriculture confronted with pollinator decline," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 810-821, January.
    4. Hougner, Cajsa & Colding, Johan & Soderqvist, Tore, 2006. "Economic valuation of a seed dispersal service in the Stockholm National Urban Park, Sweden," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 364-374, September.
    5. Zhang, Wei & van der Werf, Wopke & Swinton, Scott M., 2010. "Spatially optimal habitat management for enhancing natural control of an invasive agricultural pest: Soybean aphid," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 551-565, November.
    6. Skevas, T. & Swinton, S.M. & Meehan, T.D. & Kim, T.N. & Gratton, C. & Egbendewe-Mondzozo, A., 2014. "Integrating agricultural pest biocontrol into forecasts of energy biomass production," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 195-203.
    7. Malaga, Jaime E. & Williams, Gary W. & Fuller, Stephen W., 2001. "US-Mexico fresh vegetable trade: the effects of trade liberalization and economic growth," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 26(1), pages 45-55, October.
    8. Ornelas, Fermin S. & Shumway, C. Richard, 1993. "Supply Response And Impact Of Government-Supported Crops On The Texas Vegetable Industry," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 22(1), pages 1-10, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Daniels, Silvie & Bellmore, J. Ryan & Benjamin, Joseph R. & Witters, Nele & Vangronsveld, Jaco & Van Passel, Steven, 2018. "Quantification of the Indirect Use Value of Functional Group Diversity Based on the Ecological Role of Species in the Ecosystem," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 181-194.
    2. Daniels, Silvie & Witters, Nele & Beliën, Tim & Vrancken, Kristof & Vangronsveld, Jaco & Van Passel, Steven, 2017. "Monetary Valuation of Natural Predators for Biological Pest Control in Pear Production," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 160-173.


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