Journal of Bioeconomics

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 139–152 | Cite as

The Ecology of Trade

  • Brendan Moyle


Trading behavior occurs in many species but has a particularly elaborate form in humans. Trade is defined as the mutually beneficial, adaptive transfer of goods and services between organisms. Trade has a competitive element and responds to changes in relative scarcity. Trade is demonstrated to be a biological phenomenon rather than an artefact of human civilisation. Species’ characteristics that increase the likelihood of trade occurring are outlined. The evolution of trading strategies is most likely in humans and social arthropods. A formal model is presented to show that trade can simultaneously increase consumption among populations and reduce pressure on locally scarce resources. This allows a species to increase its density and escape the constraints imposed by local resource limitations. This represents a major ecological benefit to the trading species.

mutualism resources scarcity social arthropods sustainability 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brendan Moyle
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of CommerceMassey University (Albany)AucklandNew Zealand

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