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Biodiversity and Economic Growth: Stabilization Versus Preservation of the Ecological Dynamics


  • Simone Borghesi

    (Dept. of Political Economy, University of Siena)

  • Angelo Antoci

    (University of Sassari)

  • Paolo Russu

    (University of Sassari)


This work examines the impact that economic growth can have on biodiversity and on the ecological dynamics that would naturally emerge in the absence of human activity. The loss of biodiversity may induce policy-makers to implement defensive actions that prevent single species from extinction. These defensive actions, however, may deeply alter the natural dynamics of interaction between species, leading to an ecological equilibrium that is completely different from the one that would exist in the absence of human intervention. This suggests that there might exist a conflict between preserving biodiversity (through stabilization of the ecological system) and preserving the intrinsic features of the ecological dynamics. To investigate this issue more deeply, we analyze the impact that different objective functions and defensive technologies can have on the natural ecological dynamics, and show that human action can modify the stability of the ecological fixed points. From the simple analytical formulations adopted in the paper, it emerges that it is possible to stabilize the ecological fixed point and consequently to avoid the extinction of a species, even in the absence of defensive expenditures specifically finalized at the protection of that species. The stabilizing. effect of human intervention, however, turns out to be enhanced when specific defensive expenditures are implemented. Finally, numerical simulations suggest that human activity can have an even deeper impact on the ecological dynamics, substantially modifying not only the stability of the fixed points, but also their number.

Suggested Citation

  • Simone Borghesi & Angelo Antoci & Paolo Russu, 2004. "Biodiversity and Economic Growth: Stabilization Versus Preservation of the Ecological Dynamics," Working Papers 2004.18, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2004.18

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John M. Gowdy, 1997. "The Value of Biodiversity: Markets, Society, and Ecosystems," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 73(1), pages 25-41.
    2. Montgomery, Claire A. & Pollak, Robert A. & Freemark, Kathryn & White, Denis, 1999. "Pricing Biodiversity," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 1-19, July.
    3. Shogren, Jason F. & Crocker, Thomas D., 1999. "Risk and Its Consequences," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 44-51, January.
    4. Barbier, Edward B. & Schulz, Carl-Erik, 1997. "Wildlife, biodiversity and trade," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(02), pages 145-172, May.
    5. Common, Mick & Perrings, Charles, 1992. "Towards an ecological economics of sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 7-34, July.
    6. Gowdy, John M. & McDaniel, Carl N., 1995. "One world, one experiment: addressing the biodiversity--economics conflict," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 181-192, December.
    7. Heal, G.M., 1995. "Markets and Biodiversity," Papers 95-17, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
    8. Li, Chuan-Zhong & L Fgren, Karl-Gustaf, 1998. "A dynamic model of biodiversity preservation," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 157-172, May.
    9. Tahvonen Olli & Kuuluvainen Jari, 1993. "Economic Growth, Pollution, and Renewable Resources," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 101-118, March.
    10. Zhiqi Chen, 1997. "Can Economic Activities Lead to Climate Chaos? An Economic Analysis on Global Warming," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 30(2), pages 349-366, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Russu, Paolo, 2011. "Controlling complex dynamics in a protected-area discrete-time model," MPRA Paper 36598, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Russu, Paolo, 2012. "On the Optimality of Limit Cycles in Nature Based-Tourism," MPRA Paper 36599, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Biodiversity; Growth; Defensive actions; Ecological dynamics;

    JEL classification:

    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • C62 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Existence and Stability Conditions of Equilibrium
    • Q20 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - General

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