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A Tale of Two Diversities

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  • Courtois, Pierre
  • Figuières, Charles
  • Mulier, Chloe

Abstract

Efficient biodiversity management strategies aim to allocate conservation efforts so as to maximize diversity in ecological systems. Toward this end, defining a diversity criterion is an important but challenging task, as several different indices can be used as biodiversity measures. This paper elicits and compares two criteria for biodiversity conservation based on indices stemming from different disciplines: Weitzman's index in economics and Rao's index in ecology. These indices use different approaches to combine information about measures of (1) the probability distributions of the species that are present in an ecosystem (i.e. survival probabilities) and (2) the degree of dissimilarity between these species. As an important step toward in situ conservation criteria, we add to these elements information about (3) the ecological interactions that take place between species. Considering a simple three-species ecosystem, we show that criterion choice has palpable policy implications, as it can sometimes lead to divergent management recommendations. We disentangle the roles played by elements (1), (2) and (3) in the ranking of outcomes, which allows us to highlight several specificities of the two criteria. An important result is that, other things being equal, Weitzman's in situ ranking tends to favor robust species that are least concerned with extinction, while Rao's in situ ranking generally gives priority to more vulnerable species that are closer to extinction.

Suggested Citation

  • Courtois, Pierre & Figuières, Charles & Mulier, Chloe, 2019. "A Tale of Two Diversities," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 159(C), pages 133-147.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:159:y:2019:i:c:p:133-147
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2018.12.027
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Solow Andrew & Polasky Stephen & Broadus James, 1993. "On the Measurement of Biological Diversity," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 60-68, January.
    2. Eppink, Florian V. & van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M., 2007. "Ecological theories and indicators in economic models of biodiversity loss and conservation: A critical review," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2-3), pages 284-293, March.
    3. Courtois, Pierre & Figuieres, Charles & Mulier, Chloe & Weill, Joakim, 2018. "A Cost–Benefit Approach for Prioritizing Invasive Species," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 607-620.
    4. Pierre Courtois & Charles Figuières & Chloé Mulier, 2014. "Conservation Priorities when Species Interact: the Noah's Ark Metaphor Revisited," Working Papers 2014.02, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
    5. Steven Polasky & Andrew R. Solow, 1993. "Option Value, Gallot's Inequality, And The Measurement Of Biological Diversity," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 241, Boston College Department of Economics.
    6. Martin L. Weitzman, 1998. "The Noah's Ark Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(6), pages 1279-1298, November.
    7. Stéphanie Aulong & K. Erdlenbruch & C. Figuières, 2005. "Un tour d'horizon des critères d'évaluation de la diversité biologique," Post-Print hal-00452144, HAL.
    8. Walter Bossert & Prasanta K. Pattanaik & Yongsheng Xu, 2003. "Similarity of Options and the Measurement of Diversity," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 15(4), pages 405-421, October.
    9. Figuières, Charles & Aulong, Stéphanie & Erdlenbruch, Katrin, 2008. "Criteria for assessment of biodiversity: properties and difficulties of use," INRA Sciences Sociales, Institut National de la recherche Agronomique (INRA), Departement Sciences Sociales, Agriculture et Alimentation, Espace et Environnement (SAE2), vol. 2008, pages 1-5, September.
    10. Gerber, Nicolas, 2011. "Biodiversity measures based on species-level dissimilarities: A methodology for assessment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(12), pages 2275-2281.
    11. van der Heide, C. Martijn & van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M. & van Ierland, Ekko C., 2005. "Extending Weitzman's economic ranking of biodiversity protection: combining ecological and genetic considerations," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 218-223, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pierre Courtois & Charles FiguiËres & ChloÈ Mulier & Joakim Weill, 2017. "A cost-benefit approach for prioritizing invasive species," Policy Papers 2017.06, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
    2. Courtois, Pierre & Figuieres, Charles & Mulier, Chloe & Weill, Joakim, 2018. "A Cost–Benefit Approach for Prioritizing Invasive Species," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 607-620.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Biodiversity indices; Conservation management strategy; Ecological interactions; Public policy; Species prioritization criteria;

    JEL classification:

    • C6 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics

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