NCEAS Project 2147

Ecological economics

  • Joan Roughgarden

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Sabbatical Fellow1st September 1998—31st August 1999Participant List  
Graduate Student14th January—5th March 1999Participant List  
Working Group18th January—28th February 1999Participant List  


Ecological economics is a burgeoning field. The area where I hope to contribute is to connect ecological modeling with the modeling of natural resource economics. Two particular topics seem especially important. The first concerns the economic role of ecological stability. Perhaps surprisingly, stability does not loom as a large consideration in an economic analysis of natural resource management. The typical way economists deal with a changing environment is to assume that the state of the environment is in fact knowable (like the monthly balance of trade) and that the policy can be changed to track changes in the environment. Obviously, natural resources, such as the size of fish stocks, are not readily knowable, nor are the control variables, such as the harvest rate, easily implemented or quickly adjusted as conditions change. Who knows how many fish will actually be caught by law-abiding fishermen even though the harvest quota has been set to some specific value?

The second issue in ecological economics that I will be working on involves the extension of optimal harvest theory to multi-component ecosystems, and to include ecosystem services other than direct harvests. There is very little that has been done in this area theoretically.

TypeProduct of NCEAS Research
Journal Article Bascompte, Jordi; Possingham, Hugh P.; Roughgarden, Joan. 2002. Patchy populations in stochastic environments: Critical number of patches for persistence. American Naturalist. Vol: 159(2). Pages 128-137.