Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Market forces influence value of bat-provided services, such as pest control

Date:
February 3, 2014
Source:
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Summary:
Researchers studied how forces such as volatile market conditions and technological substitutes affect the value of pest control services provided by Mexican free-tailed bats on cotton production in the US. They found the services are impacted by the forces to the tune of millions of dollars.

This photo shows bats returning to Frio Cave near Conan, Texas, in the early morning.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Amy Russell of Grand Valley State University

Services provided by Mother Nature, such as pest control from insect-eating bats, are affected by market forces like most anything else in the economy, a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, study finds. The study's results have implications for biodiversity conservation efforts.

Researchers from UT and the University of Arizona, Tucson, studied how forces such as volatile market conditions and technological substitutes affect the value of pest control services provided by Mexican free-tailed bats on cotton production in the U.S. They found the services are impacted by the forces to the tune of millions of dollars.

The study, conducted by Gary McCracken, professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and led by UA's Laura López-Hoffman, is the first to examine how bat ecosystem services change over time. It is published in this week's edition of the journal PLOS ONE.

There are more than 1,200 bat species and two-thirds of them are insectivorous, which means they help farmers by preying on pests and reducing the need for insecticides. The researchers calculated the value of the bat pest control service each year from 1990 through 2008 by estimating the value of avoided crop damage and the reduced social and private costs of insecticide use in the presence of bats.

Taking into account a drop in cotton commodity price, the resulting decrease in cotton production and the adoption of transgenic Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton, which is modified to express its own pesticide, the researchers found that the value of the pest control services dropped 79 percent, from a high of $23.96 million in 1990 to a low of $4.88 million in 2008.

"The results of this study document that volatile market conditions and technological substitutes such as Bt cotton can affect the value of an ecosystem service even when ecosystem function, in this case bat population numbers, may remain constant," said McCracken.

The findings fuel a discussion as to whether or not it is economically worthwhile to conserve biodiversity.

"There is a worry that technological substitutes such as cloning and pesticides that replace nature's services such as pollination and natural pest control diminish the importance of protecting ecosystems," said López-Hoffman. "While our research shows a diminished value of pest control due to fluctuations in market conditions, our larger analyses show that conservation is still economically beneficial."

The researchers point to mounting evidence of the evolution of pest resistance to Bt cotton, suggesting that the value of bat pest control services may increase again.

"This evidence of resistance evolution suggests that Bt cotton may not be a long-term solution to pest-related losses," said McCracken. "In fact, by preying on the individual insects that survive the Bt toxin, bats may provide the additional service of slowing the evolution of resistance to Bt and other insecticides. Bats are also free of charge and, as generalist predators, are providing a broad spectrum of pest control."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Laura López-Hoffman, Ruscena Wiederholt, Chris Sansone, Kenneth J. Bagstad, Paul Cryan, Jay E. Diffendorfer, Joshua Goldstein, Kelsie LaSharr, John Loomis, Gary McCracken, Rodrigo A. Medellín, Amy Russell, Darius Semmens. Market Forces and Technological Substitutes Cause Fluctuations in the Value of Bat Pest-Control Services for Cotton. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (2): e87912 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087912

Cite This Page:

University of Tennessee at Knoxville. "Market forces influence value of bat-provided services, such as pest control." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140203191829.htm>.
University of Tennessee at Knoxville. (2014, February 3). Market forces influence value of bat-provided services, such as pest control. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140203191829.htm
University of Tennessee at Knoxville. "Market forces influence value of bat-provided services, such as pest control." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140203191829.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) — An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

Reuters - US Online Video (July 21, 2014) — An endangered black rhino baby is the newest resident at the San Diego Zoo. Sasha Salama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) — A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) — Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins