Market forces and technological substitutes cause fluctuations in the value of bat pest-control services for cotton

Laura López-Hoffman, Ruscena Wiederholt, Chris Sansone, Kenneth J. Bagstad, Paul Cryan, Jay E. Diffendorfer, Joshua Goldstein, Kelsie LaSharr, John Loomis, Gary McCracken, Rodrigo A. Medellín, Amy Russell, Darius Semmens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Critics of the market-based, ecosystem services approach to biodiversity conservation worry that volatile market conditions and technological substitutes will diminish the value of ecosystem services and obviate the "economic benefits" arguments for conservation. To explore the effects of market forces and substitutes on service values, we assessed how the value of the pest-control services provided by Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis mexicana) to cotton production in the southwestern U.S. has changed over time. We calculated service values each year from 1990 through 2008 by estimating the value of avoided crop damage and the reduced social and private costs of insecticide use in the presence of bats. Over this period, the ecosystem service value declined by 79% ($19.09 million U.S. dollars) due to the introduction and widespread adoption of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton transgenically modified to express its own pesticide, falling global cotton prices and the reduction in the number of hectares in the U.S. planted with cotton. Our results demonstrate that fluctuations in market conditions can cause temporal variation in ecosystem service values even when ecosystem function - in this case bat population numbers - is held constant. Evidence is accumulating, however, of the evolution of pest resistance to Bt cotton, suggesting that the value of bat pest-control services may increase again. This gives rise to an economic option value argument for conserving Mexican free-tailed bat populations. We anticipate that these results will spur discussion about the role of ecosystem services in biodiversity conservation in general, and bat conservation in particular.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere87912
JournalPLoS One
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 3 2014

Fingerprint

Pest control
Pest Control
pest control
Ecosystems
Cotton
Chiroptera
Ecosystem
ecosystem services
cotton
markets
Conservation
Bacillus thuringiensis
Biodiversity
Bacilli
Economics
Tadarida
biodiversity
economics
crop damage
pest resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Market forces and technological substitutes cause fluctuations in the value of bat pest-control services for cotton. / López-Hoffman, Laura; Wiederholt, Ruscena; Sansone, Chris; Bagstad, Kenneth J.; Cryan, Paul; Diffendorfer, Jay E.; Goldstein, Joshua; LaSharr, Kelsie; Loomis, John; McCracken, Gary; Medellín, Rodrigo A.; Russell, Amy; Semmens, Darius.

In: PLoS One, Vol. 9, No. 2, e87912, 03.02.2014.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

López-Hoffman, L, Wiederholt, R, Sansone, C, Bagstad, KJ, Cryan, P, Diffendorfer, JE, Goldstein, J, LaSharr, K, Loomis, J, McCracken, G, Medellín, RA, Russell, A & Semmens, D 2014, 'Market forces and technological substitutes cause fluctuations in the value of bat pest-control services for cotton', PLoS One, vol. 9, no. 2, e87912. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0087912
López-Hoffman, Laura ; Wiederholt, Ruscena ; Sansone, Chris ; Bagstad, Kenneth J. ; Cryan, Paul ; Diffendorfer, Jay E. ; Goldstein, Joshua ; LaSharr, Kelsie ; Loomis, John ; McCracken, Gary ; Medellín, Rodrigo A. ; Russell, Amy ; Semmens, Darius. / Market forces and technological substitutes cause fluctuations in the value of bat pest-control services for cotton. In: PLoS One. 2014 ; Vol. 9, No. 2.
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