Measuring the Diversity of What? And for What Purpose? A Conceptual Comparison of Ecological and Economic Biodiversity Indices

33 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2006

See all articles by Stefan Baumgärtner

Stefan Baumgärtner

University of Freiburg - Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Date Written: March 2006

Abstract

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

Baumgärtner, Stefan, Measuring the Diversity of What? And for What Purpose? A Conceptual Comparison of Ecological and Economic Biodiversity Indices (March 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=894782 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.894782

Stefan Baumgärtner (Contact Author)

University of Freiburg - Department of Environment and Natural Resources ( email )

Tennebacher Str. 4
Freiburg, 79106
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.ere.uni-freiburg.de

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