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Economically Optimal Management of a Metapopulation

Mathematical Biology

Speaker: Jim Sanchirico, UC Davis (Environmental Science and Policy, GGAM)
Location: 2112 MSB
Start time: Tue, Feb 3 2009, 11:00AM

An informational revolution is underway in the natural sciences that is generating a comprehensive picture of meso- and micro-scale phenomena of the biosphere that appear as previously unrecognized spatial patterns in natural and man-influenced landscapes. These patterns, in turn, pose new questions about spatial-dynamic processes at various scales in coupled human and natural systems. Many of these questions are spawning new paradigms that focus explicitly on space and the manner in which the dynamics of patterns are generated. With all of this new information, a natural question to ask is: what are the implications for managing natural resources? And, how does the answer to that question depend on the spatial characteristics of the resource, such as spatial heterogeneity and dispersal processes? To provide qualitative insights into these questions, we develop a stylized bioeconomic model of a metapopulation. We use the model to numerically investigate optimal spatial-dynamic harvesting policies for a metapopulation and the consequences of implementing policies that treat the resource as if it is uniformly distributed over a homogenous environment. The latter is representative of the current framework used to develop a suite of policies for managing marine resources. In our base case simulations, the losses as measured by a percent reduction in the net present value from fishing the population when not taking space properly into account ranged from 46 to 54 percent depending on the type of connectivity. Our findings highlight the need to better understand the economic-ecological implications of spatial-dynamic processes and to better incorporate these processes into management decisions.