Ecology and economics in the science of anthropogenic biosphere change

Charles Perrings, Ann Kinzig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This chapter considers the ways in which research at the intersection of ecology and economics has strengthened our understanding of anthropogenic biosphere change. Three dimensions of the problem are addressed. The first is the linkages between the carrying and assimilative capacity of the environment and the substitutability of produced and natural capital. The second is connection between biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and the valuation of non-marketed environmental goods and services. The third is the resilience of ecological systems and the stability and sustainability of economic states and processes. Work across the two disciplines has affected the spatial and temporal scale at which the problem is addressed, the way in which biophysical processes appear in models of the coupled system, the data used to calibrate and validate those models, and the range of interventions considered. We show where traction has been gained by taking explicit account of processes that have traditionally been neglected or treated parametrically in economic models, or by taking account of stocks whose dynamics play out at different temporal and spatial scales. We also show how application of the ecological concept of resilience has provided both a foundation for sustainability science and a way to test the environmental consequences of demographic, technological, institutional and economic changes in human societies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHandbook of Environmental Economics
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


  • Biodiversity
  • Ecological functioning
  • Ecosystem services
  • Natural capital
  • Resilience
  • Sustainability
  • Valuation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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