In an effort to make ecological concepts like biodiversity applicable to policy, natural resource accounting (also known as Green GDP) attempts to place an economic value on "ecosystem services" provided by plants, animals and ecological process. The prerequisites of clean air, adequate water supplies, food production, and predictable weather certainly have economic value and should be preserved. However, this view has been accused of not giving adequate weight to more subjective concepts, such as intrinsic value, beauty, and desirability. While the cultural aesthetics attached to flowers will probably prevent them from being evaluated purely on considerations of carbon sequestration and soil erosion—should less charismatic species, such as this praying mantis, be appraised only on their virtues as an environmentally friendly form of pest control?
Jeffrey W. Ackley is a National Science Foundation Urban Ecology Fellow at Arizona State University. His doctoral research involves reptiles in disturbed, artificial, and urban habitats. He hopes to identify how animals respond to different types of human activities in order to make existing urban populations more sustainable, and to lessen the ecological consequences of future development. He is also a rescue diver and an underwater photographer.