While it might seem counterintuitive that increased stocks of one species would drive up the capital value of another species, the predators and prey within an ecosystem have a complementary relationship. It’s sort of like hot dogs, Fenichel said. The more hot dogs you have, he said, the more valuable hot dog buns become.
Such a process also provides a badly need “headline” indicators to evaluate the performance of ecosystem-based management, the authors write.
“This paper shows that ecosystems are best thought of as portfolios of natural capital assets and the wealth held in the ecosystem provides an attractive headline index for ecosystem-based management,” said Seong Do Yun
, a postdoctoral fellow at F&ES and lead author of the paper. “Making sure the ‘principle balance’ of wealth is protect is a common investment goal; the wealth index we develop extends this idea to natural resources and provides an intuitive way think about sustainability – protecting the principle balance of all wealth including that stored in the environment.”
For the study the authors utilized an adapted finance capital model developed by Fenichel, Joshua Abbott
, a professor at Arizona State University, and others in recent years to evaluate the value of other natural capital stocks, including groundwater on the Kansas High Plains
and reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico
. In addition, they used a software package
, created by Yun, that computes natural capital asset prices.
Abbott and Barbara Hutniczak
from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service also co-authored the paper.