Skip to main content

Population Dynamics and Animal Welfare: Issues Raised by the Culling of Kangaroos in Puckapunyal

Abstract

The culling of kangaroos at the Puckapunyal Army base (Australia) raises some intriguing ethical issues around animal welfare. After discussing the costs and benefits of the cull, this paper addresses the more general animal welfare issues related to population dynamics. Natural selection favours the maximization of the number of surviving offspring. This need not result in the maximization of the welfare of individuals in the species. The contrast between growth maximization and welfare maximization is first illustrated for a single population and then discussed in terms of competing populations. In the Lotka-Volterra model of competing species and its generalizations, the choice of different birthrates does not affect the population sizes at equilibrium. Welfare could be much higher at lower birthrates without even reducing numbers (at equilibrium).

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Abrams PA (1991) The effects of interacting species on predator-prey coevolution. Theor Popul Biol 39:241–262

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bernstein C, Kacelnik A, Krebs JR (1988) Individual decisions and the distribution of predators in a patchy environment. J Anim Ecol 57:1007–1026

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Blackorby C, Donaldson D (1984) Social criteria for evaluating population change. J Public Econ 25(1–2):13–34

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Blackorby C, Donaldson D (1992) Pigs and guinea pigs: a note on the ethics of animal exploitation. Econ J 102(415):1345–69

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Broome J (2001) Measuring the burden of disease by aggregating well-being. In: Murray C., Salomon J., Mathers C., Lopez A. (eds) Summary measures of population health: concepts, ethics, measurement and applications. World Health Organization, Geneva

    Google Scholar 

  • Chesson PL (1985) Coexistence of competitors in spatially and temporally varying environments: a look at the combined effects of different sorts of variability. Theor Popul Biol 28:263–287

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cohen D, Levin SA (1991) Dispersal in patchy environments: the effects of temporal and spatial structure. Theor Popul Biol 39:63–99

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Connell JH (1983) On the prevalence and relative importance of interspecific competition: Evidence from field experiments. Am Nat 122:661–696

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cressman R, Garay J (2003) Evolutionary stability in Lotka-Volterra systems. J Theor Biol 222:233–245

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Darwen PJ, Green DG (1996) Viability of populations in a landscape. Ecol Model 85(2–3):165–171

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Demetrius U (1992) Growth rate, population entropy, and evolutionary dynamics. Theor Popul Biol 41:208–236

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Derrick W, Metzgar L (1991) Dynamics of Lotka-Volterra systems with exploitation. J Theor Biol 153:455–468

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Edmunds J, Cushing JM, Costantino RF, Henson SM, Dennis B, Desharnais RA (2003) Park’s Tribolium competition experiments: a non-equilibrium species coexistence hypothesis. J Anim Ecol 72:703–712

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gillespie JH (1998) Population genetics: a concise guide. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD

    Google Scholar 

  • Gordon CE (2000) The coexistence of species. Rev Chil Hist Nat 73(1):175–198

    Google Scholar 

  • Grover JP (1992) Constant- and variable-yield models of population growth: responses to environmental variability and implications for competition. J Theor Biol 158:409–428

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Harrod R (1948) Towards a dynamic economics. Macmillan, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Hicks J (1940) The valuation of social income. Economica 7:104–24

    Google Scholar 

  • Huang X, Zu Y (2001) The LES population model: essentials and relationship to the Lotka-Volterra model. Ecol Model 143(3):215–225

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kahneman D, Wakker PP, Sarin R (1997) Back to Bentham? Explorations of experienced utility. Q J Econ 112(2):375–405

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lawlor LR (1979) Direct and indirect effects of n-species competition. Oecologia (Berl.) 43:355–364

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Levine SH (1976) Competitive interactions in ecosystems. Am Nat 110:903–910

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McLaughlin JF, Roughgarden J (1991) Pattern and stability in predator-prey communities: how diffusion in spatially variable environments affects the Lotka-volterra model. Theor Popul Biol 40:148–172

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ng Y-K (1983) Some broader issues in social welfare. In: PK Pattanaik, Salles M (eds) Social choice and welfare. North Holland, Amsterdam

    Google Scholar 

  • Ng Y-K (1984) Expected subjective utility: is the Neumann–Morgenstern utility the same as the neoclassical’s?. Soc Choice Welf 1:177–186

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ng Y-K (1986) On the welfare economics of population control. Popul Develop Rev 12:247–266

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ng Y-K (1989) What should we do about future generations? Impossibility of Parfit’s Theory X. Econ Philos 5:235–253

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ng Y-K (1991) Should we be very cautious or extremely cautious on measures that may involve our destruction? On the finiteness of our expected welfare. Soc Choice Welf 8:79–88

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ng Y-K (1995) Towards welfare biology: evolutionary economics of animal consciousness and suffering. Biol Philos 10:255–285

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • NG Y-K (2000a) Efficiency, equality, and public policy: with a case for higher public spending. Macmillan, Basingstoke, Hampshire

    Google Scholar 

  • Ng Y-K (2000b) From separatability to unweighted sum: a case for utilitarianism. Theory Decis 49:299–312

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Palmqvist E, Lundberg P (1998) Population extinctions in correlated environments. Oikos 83(2):359–367

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Parfit D (1984) Reasons and persons. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Pigou AC (1929) The economics of welfare. Macmillan, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Ramsey FP (1929) A mathematical theory of saving. Econ J 38:543–559

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ripa J, Lundberg P (2000) The route to extinction in variable environments. Oikos 90(1):89–96

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Roughgarden J (1979) Theory of Population Genetics and Evolutionary Ecology. Macmillan, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Schoener TW (1983) Field experiments on interspecific competition. Am Nat 122:583–601

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schoener TW (1985) Some comments on Connell’s and my reviews of field experiments on interspecific competition. Am Nat 125:730–740, 126:300–301

    Google Scholar 

  • Singer P (1975) Animal liberation: a new ethics for our treatment of animals. Random House, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Singer P (2000) Writings on an ethical life. Ecco, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Soule M (eds) (1987) Viable populations. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England

    Google Scholar 

  • Sutherland WJ, Norris K (2002) Behavioural models of population growth rates: implications for conservation and prediction. Philos Trans R Soc Lond, B Biol Sci 357:1273–1284

    Google Scholar 

  • Tilman D (1987) The importance of the mechanisms of interspecific competition. Am Nat 129:769–774

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tuljapurkar SD (1980) Population dynamics in variable environments. I. Long-run growth rates and extinction. Theor Popul Biol 18:314–342

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Turchin P (2003) Complex population dynamics: a theoretical/empirical synthesis. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Waage JK, Hassell MP, Godfray HCJ (1985) The dynamics of pest-parasitoid- insecticide interactions. J Appl Ecol 22:825–838

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Weizsäcker CC (1965) Existence of optimal programs of accumulation for an infinite time horizon. Rev Econ Stud 32:85–104

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Matthew Clarke.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Clarke, M., Ng, YK. Population Dynamics and Animal Welfare: Issues Raised by the Culling of Kangaroos in Puckapunyal. Soc Choice Welfare 27, 407–422 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00355-006-0137-8

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00355-006-0137-8

Keywords

  • Animal Welfare
  • Equilibrium Outcome
  • Intrinsic Growth Rate
  • Welfare Level
  • Total Welfare