Measuring the Diversity of What? And for What Purpose? A Conceptual Comparison of Ecological and Economic Biodiversity Indices
33 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2006
Date Written: March 2006
In this paper I address the question of exactly how to measure biodiversity by reviewing and conceptually comparing ecological and economic measures of biodiversity. It turns out that there are systematic differences between these two classes of measures, which are related to a difference in the philosophical perspective on biodiversity between ecologists and economists. While ecologists tend to view biodiversity from a conservative perspective, economists usually adopt a liberal perspective. As a consequence, ecologists and economists generally appreciate biodiversity for different reasons and value its different aspects and components in a different way. I conclude that the measurement of biodiversity requires prior value judgments as to what purpose biodiversity serves in ecological-economic systems.
Keywords: biodiversity, dissimilarity, diversity indices, ecosystems, entropy, evenness, heterogeneity, philosophy, product diversity, species diversity, theory of choice
JEL Classification: Q57, Q2, Q3
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation