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Products: Burnett, Kimberly

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Optimal Prevention and Control of Invasive Species: The Case of the Brown Treesnake

This dissertation examines the optimal management of a nuisance species that threatens but is not thought to be prevalent in an ecosystem. The three central chapters focus on integrated prevention and control of the Brown Treesnake (Boiga irregularis) in Hawaii.

dissertation


Learning-by-catching: Uncertain invasive-species populations and the value of information

This paper develops a model of invasive species control when the species’ population size is unknown. In the face of an uncertain population size, a resource manager’s species-control efforts provide two potential benefits: (1) a direct benefit of possibly reducing the population of invasive species, and (2) an indirect benefit of information acquisition (due to learning about the population size, which reduces uncertainty). We provide a methodology that takes into account both of these benefits, and show how optimal management decisions are altered in the presence of the indirect benefit of learning. We then apply this methodology to the case of controlling the Brown Treesnake (Boiga irregularis) on the island of Saipan. We find that the indirect benefit—the value of information to reduce uncertainty—is likely to be quite large.

Published: D'Evelyn, S. T., Tarui, N., Burnett, K. and Roumasset, J. A., 2008. Learning-by-catching: Uncertain invasive-species populations and the value of information.  Journal of Envrionmental Management, 89, 284-292.

working paper version


Models of Spatial and Intertemporal Invasive Species Management

Prepared for the NCEE Valuation for Environmental Policy: Ecological Benefits Conference April 23-24, 2007.

uhero project report


The Economic Value of Watershed Conservation

Watershed conservation creates benefits within and beyond the management area of interest. Direct benefits are those realized in the watershed itself, such as improved water quality and quantity, and biodiversity protection. Additionally, the health of a watershed has profound implications on near-shore resources below its reaches, including beaches and coral reefs. This chapter reviews the major benefits of watershed conservation and discusses the economic value of these activities.

working paper


Economic lessons from control efforts for an invasive species: Miconia calvescens in Hawaii

Once established, invasive species can rapidly and irreversibly alter ecosystems and degrade the value of ecosystem services. Optimal control of an unwanted species solves for a trajectory of removals that minimizes the present value of removal costs and residual damages from the remaining population. The shrubby tree, Miconia calvescens, is used to illustrate dynamic policy options for a forest invader. Potential damages to Hawaii’s forest ecosystems are related to decreased aquifer recharge, biodiversity, and other ecosystem values. We find that population reduction is the optimal management policy for the islands of Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii. On the island of Kauai, where tree density is lower and search costs higher, optimal policy calls for deferring removal expenditures until the steady state population is reached.

Published: Burnett, K. M., Kaiser, B. A., and Roumasset, J. A., 2007.  Economic lessons from control efforts for an invasive species: Miconia calvescens in Hawaii. Journal of Forest Economics, 13, 151-167. 

Working Paper version


Spatial containment of invasive species: Insights from economics

Economics can clarify the discussion on invasive species in at least three ways. First is
through the use of incentives to change human behavior so as to enhance protection
against the introduction, establishment, and spread of invasive species across the world.
The second recognizes the public good characteristics of invasive species control, and
develops institutions to support the weakest members of our global community (Perrings
et al. 2002). The third component involves choosing optimal investment in invasive
species management across space, species, and time. This paper is a first attempt at
addressing the third component, optimal spatial containment of an invasive species.

working paper


Optimal Public Control of Exotic Species: Preventing the Brown Tree Snake from Invading Hawai‘i

This paper develops a theoretical model for the efficient establishment of economic policy pertaining to invasive species, integrating prevention and control of invasive species into a single model of optimal control policy, and applies this model to the case of the Brown tree snake as a potential invader of Hawaii.

working paper


Economic impacts of non-indigenous species: Miconia and the Hawaiian economy

Imperfect scientific information regarding potential invasiveness, differences between private and public outcomes for individual decisions regarding planting, and inadequate prevention activity combine to impose costs through a change in native ecosystems susceptible to invasion by hardy, rapidly reproducing non-indigenous species. Concepts and tools from economic theory that may improve policy decisions are explored through the specific example of Miconia calvescens in Hawaii. Rapid expansion of Miconia calvescens, an ornamental tree introduced to several Pacific Islands over the last century, threatens local watersheds, endangered species, and recreational and aesthetic values in the Hawaiian and Society Islands. Potential welfare losses from the unchecked spread of Miconia in Hawaii are illustrated. Policy options investigated include accommodation of these losses, efforts at containment, or eradication. Estimates are determined through an optimal control model describing the potential expansion of the weed and its control costs and damages. Results suggest that cost-effective policies will vary with the level of invasion as well as the expected net benefits from control efforts.

working paper


Control of Invasive Species: Lessons from Miconia in Hawai'i

 The threat of invasive species stems from their ability to rapidly and irreversibly change ecosystems and degrade the value of ecosystem services. Optimal control of a pre-established exotic pest minimizes the costs of population reduction plus the residual damages from the remaining pest population. The shrubby tree, Miconia calvescens, is used to illustrate dynamic policy options for a forest invader. Potential damages to Hawaii's forest ecosystems are related to decreased aquifer recharge, biodiversity, and other ecosystem values. We find that population reduction is the optimal management policy for the islands of Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii. On the island of Kauai, however, optimal policy calls for deferring control expenditures until the (larger) steady state population is reached.

working paper


Determinants of Success in High School Economics: Lessons from the Field

Recently, the Hawaii Council on Economic Education conducted a survey of high school seniors to gauge their understanding of basic economic concepts. Based on these results, we conduct a series of case studies, consisting of interviews with principals and economics teachers at eight Hawaii public high schools. We summarize the qualitative and quantitative results of these interviews. We then use these and other data to estimate the effects of school, demographic, and other characteristics on average student achievement on the survey. We find that the improvement in student test scores as a result of a one semester economics course is modest, but that the single greatest determinant of achievement is overall school quality. Based on these and other findings, we present recommendations for policy and further research.

working paper


Prevention, Eradication, and Containment of Invasive Species: Illustrations from Hawaii

Invasive species change ecosystems and the economic services such ecosystems provide. Optimal policy will minimize the expected damages and costs of prevention and control. We seek to explain policy outcomes as a function of biological and economic factors, using the case of Hawaii to illustrate. First, we consider an existing invasion, Miconia calvescens, a plant with the potential to reduce biodiversity, soil cover, and water availability. We then examine an imminent threat, the potential arrival of the Brown Treesnake (Boiga irregularis). The arrival of the snake to Guam has led to native bird extirpations, power outages, and health costs.

Published: Burnett, K., Kaiser, B., Pitafi, B. A., Roumasset, J., 2006.  Prevention, eradication, and containment of invasive species: Illustrations from Hawaii.  Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, 35 (1), 63-77.

working paper version


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