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Valuing pollination services to agriculture


  • Winfree, Rachael
  • Gross, Brian J.
  • Kremen, Claire


Crop pollination by animal pollinators is an important ecosystem service for which there is no generally accepted valuation method. Here, we show that two existing valuation methods, previously thought to be unrelated, are each a special case of a more general equation. We then present a new method, termed attributable net income, for valuing insect pollination of crops. The attributable net income method improves upon previous methods in three ways: (1) it subtracts the cost of inputs to crop production from the value of pollination, thereby not attributing the value of these inputs to pollinators; (2) it values only the pollination that would be utilized by the crop plant for fruit production, thereby not valuing pollen deposited in excess of the plants’ requirements; and (3) it can attribute value separately to different pollinator taxa, for example to native vs. managed pollinators. We demonstrate all three methods using a data set on watermelon pollination by native bees and honey bees in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, USA. We discuss the reasons why different methods produce disparate values, and why the attributable net income method most accurately reflects the actual ecosystem service that is being valued, marketable fruit production.

Suggested Citation

  • Winfree, Rachael & Gross, Brian J. & Kremen, Claire, 2011. "Valuing pollination services to agriculture," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 80-88.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:71:y:2011:i:c:p:80-88
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2011.08.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. de Groot, Rudolf S. & Wilson, Matthew A. & Boumans, Roelof M. J., 2002. "A typology for the classification, description and valuation of ecosystem functions, goods and services," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 393-408, June.
    2. 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.
    3. Muth, Mary K. & Thurman, Walter N., 1995. "Why Support the Price of Honey?," Choices, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 10(2).
    4. Turner, R. Kerry & Paavola, Jouni & Cooper, Philip & Farber, Stephen & Jessamy, Valma & Georgiou, Stavros, 2003. "Valuing nature: lessons learned and future research directions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 493-510, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Breeze, T.D. & Bailey, A.P. & Potts, S.G. & Balcombe, K.G., 2015. "A stated preference valuation of the non-market benefits of pollination services in the UK," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 76-85.
    2. Fleischer, Aliza & Shafir, Sharoni & Mandelik, Yael, 2013. "A proactive approach for assessing alternative management programs for an invasive alien pollinator species," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 126-132.
    3. Bauer, Dana Marie & Sue Wing, Ian, 2016. "The macroeconomic cost of catastrophic pollinator declines," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 1-13.
    4. Melathopoulos, Andony P. & Cutler, G. Christopher & Tyedmers, Peter, 2015. "Where is the value in valuing pollination ecosystem services to agriculture?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 59-70.


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