The Impact of Economic Development on Plant Diversity: A Test of the Environmental Kuznets Curve
Saturday, November 14, 2015
Riverfront South/Central (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Maintaining biodiversity is an ongoing concern that has salient political views on both sides of the issue. In this study, we analyze the correlation between economic development and plant biodiversity in the Eastern United States. We use the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) for biodiversity to determine if a U-shaped, curvilinear relationship exists between the median family income and the number of endangered and threatened plant species. Previous studies using the EKC at the international level do not consider spatial diversity within a country. This study is unique because we consider the internal impacts on plant biodiversity at the county level including environmental, economic, and geographic conditions. The results indicate that the EKC is potentially present, but the shape of the relationship between income and biodiversity may be different than what was initially proposed. The EKC may be S-shaped. The positive relationship noted in the right half of the EKC begins to taper off at the highest income levels, which may help explain some of the inconsistencies in previous findings.