Biodiversity and Economic Land Use

Matthew A. Cole, Robert J. R. Elliott and Eric Strobl


We quantify the impact of economic land use (urban and agricultural) on biodiversity measured as phylogenetic diversity (or evolutionary distinctiveness). We construct phylogenetic diversity indexes for bird populations throughout the United States and match them to high-resolution land use data. Agricultural land decreases phylogenetic diversity. In contrast, urban land use initially encourages diversity; however, once 27% of the local area is urbanized, phylogenetic diversity falls. Phylogenetic diversity also benefits from the presence of a variety of land use types, to a point. We project land conversion and biodiversity loss to 2051 and calculate the costs of preventing such land conversion.

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