Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 243–267 | Cite as

How to Get There From Here: Ecological and Economic Dynamics of Ecosystem Service Provision

  • James N. Sanchirico
  • Michael Springborn
Open Access


Using a bioeconomic model of a coral reef-mangrove-seagrass system, we analyze the dynamic path of incentives to achieve an efficient transition to the steady state levels of fish biomass and mangrove habitat conservation. Our model nests different types of species habitat dependency and allows for changes in the extent of habitat to affect the growth rate and the long-run fish level. We solve the two-control, two-state non-linear optimal control problem numerically and compute the input efficiency frontier characterizing the tradeoff between mangrove habitat and fish population. After identifying the optimal locus on the frontier, we determine the optimal transition path to the frontier from a set of initial conditions to illustrate the necessary investments. Finally, we demonstrate how dynamic conservation incentives (payments for ecosystem services) for a particular habitat with multiple services are interdependent, change over time, and can be greater than contemporaneous fishing profits when the ecosystem is degraded.


Optimal control Bioeconomic Rebuilding Collocation Habitat 

JEL Classification




We thank Peter J. Mumby, Steve Polasky, Chris Costello, Jim Wilen, an anonymous reviewer, and seminar participants at UC Davis (Fall 2009), Resources for the Future (March 2010), AAAS meeting (San Diego, Jan. 2010), Natural Resource Modeling workshop (Helsinki, June 2010) and WCERE meeting (Montreal, July 2010) for insightful and helpful comments and suggestions. Sanchirico acknowledges support from the U.S. EPA Science to Achieve Results (R832223), Resources for the Future, and California Agricultural Experimentation Station (AES) project CA-D*-ESP-7084-H. Sanchirico is an associate member of the Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics.

Open Access

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Science and PolicyUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  2. 2.Resources for the FutureWashingtonUSA

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