Natural history at the cutting edge

Andrew J. Beattie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Natural history is a vast database useful for the discovery of new biological resources and when the logic of evolutionary biology and ecology is applied to it, an extraordinary diversity of commercial applications are revealed. Examples show that organisms as unexpected as ants, spiders and molluscs provide proven or potential resources for products as diverse as pharmaceuticals, high-tensile fibres and new construction materials while lowly worms and wasps provide services from environmental monitoring to biological control. These examples are the tip of the iceberg and a branch of ecological economics is proposed to develop the logical and systematic exploration of biodiversity for novel products and services. While the primary reasons for the conservation of biodiversity may be ethical and moral, the judicious use of natural history clearly demonstrates that the economic imperatives for the conservation of all species are far greater than previously imagined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-97
Number of pages5
JournalEcological Economics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • Biodiversity
  • Biological control
  • Biological monitoring
  • Biological wealth
  • Conservation
  • Natural history
  • Pharmaceuticals


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