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Harvest and extinction in multi-species ecosystems

Matthew D. Potts and Jeffrey Vincent ()

Ecological Economics, 2008, vol. 65, issue 2, 336-347

Abstract: A potential cost of harvesting in multi-species ecosystems is the extinction of nonharvested species that are at the same trophic level as the harvested species. Existing analytical models are not well-suited for studying this harvest externality because they focus on species interactions across trophic levels instead of within them. We identify the conditions under which the harvesting of a single species causes at least one extinction of nonharvested species at the same trophic level. We compare two harvest regimes: uniform management, in which a privately optimal harvest rate is applied to the entire ecosystem; and specialized management, in which a portion of the ecosystem is intensively managed for the harvested species and the rest is left unharvested. Which regime is more likely to result in extinction depends on the discount rate and on the harvested species' competitive ability and colonization rate compared to those of the other species.

Date: 2008
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