Optimal control of population recovery - the role of economic restoration threshold

Adam Lampert*, Alan Hastings

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


A variety of ecological systems around the world have been damaged in recent years, either by natural factors such as invasive species, storms and global change or by direct human activities such as overfishing and water pollution. Restoration of these systems to provide ecosystem services entails significant economic benefits. Thus, choosing how and when to restore in an optimal fashion is important, but has not been well studied. Here we examine a general model where population growth can be induced or accelerated by investing in active restoration. We show that the most cost-effective method to restore an ecosystem dictates investment until the population approaches an 'economic restoration threshold', a density above which the ecosystem should be left to recover naturally. Therefore, determining this threshold is a key general approach for guiding efficient restoration management, and we demonstrate how to calculate this threshold for both deterministic and stochastic ecosystems.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)28-35
Number of pages8
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioeconomics
  • Conservation
  • Dynamic programming
  • Ecosystem services
  • Optimal control
  • Restoration


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