European Journal of Mathematics

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 646–655 | Cite as

Ecological collapse of Easter Island and the role of price fixing

  • William F. BasenerEmail author
  • Wesley J. Basener
Review Article


Easter Island is extremely isolated, with a fascinating history of creative artistic engineering and enigmatic ecological collapse. A small initial population grew to a substantial and accomplished society, but deforestation led to a collapse of the ecosystem and drop in the human population. In this paper we review some of the factors that have been studied which may have contributed to the collapse. We show that the function for the harvesting rate is an important factor in the dynamics that can lead to total collapse of the resource. We show that harvesting rate functions that result in total collapse correspond to fixed prices of the resources. While we do not make definitive conclusions on how resources were managed by the specific population on Easter Island, we show how seemingly positive factors of free access and fixed prices can have detrimental unintended consequences.


Easter Island Population collapse Population dynamics Price fixing Ecological economics 

Mathematics Subject Classification

34A34 91B24 91B76 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Mathematical SciencesRochester Institute of TechnologyRochesterUSA
  2. 2.Department of Systems and Information EngineeringUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Piedmont Valley Community CollegeCharlottesvilleUSA

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