Biodiversity, Biocomplexity, and the Economics of Genetic Dissimilarity

Lynn Mainwaring


Some economists have advocated the use of measures of genetic dissimilarity to guide species preservation priorities. It is argued here that such policies are: 1) possible for only a very small number of species for which data are available; 2)impractical as a general guide to biodiversity preservation for that reason and because it is impossible, given the present state of knowledge, to account for species interdependence; and critically, 3) misguided because, at least over the relatively small species sets for which data exist, there are generally no established or theoretically convincing relationships between genetic dissimilarity and species value. (JEL Q21, Q28)