Taking stock of the spectrum of arguments for biodiversity

Bruce Howard, Leon C. Braat, Rob J.F. Bugter, Esther Carmen, Rosemary S. Hails, Allan D. Watt, Juliette C. Young*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This paper provides an analysis of the spectrum of arguments associated with the term biodiversity, as expressed in the literature. Through sampling of the grey and peer-review literature, and testing of results through semi-structured interviews, this review presents a total of 31 different instrumental and non-instrumental premises used in arguments for biodiversity. Based on the identified premise statements, this review offers a simple classification by which to understand the complex public discourse associated with arguments for biodiversity, and outlines the current frequency of use of arguments in the literature. Although a wide range of premise statements were identified, the majority of arguments were instrumental with the most frequently used ones putting forward economic perspectives as well as emphasising the role of biodiversity in underpinning ecosystem services. Results from interviews with decision-makers emphasise the need to combine arguments in order to strengthen biodiversity conservation generally, and minimise possible risks associated with individual arguments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1561-1574
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Issue number7
Early online date28 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • Arguments
  • Biodiversity
  • Ecosystem services
  • Valuation


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