Consumers' taste for rarity drives sturgeons to extinction
Article first published online: 5 NOV 2008
©2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Volume 1, Issue 5, pages 199–207, December 2008
How to Cite
Gault, A., Meinard, Y. and Courchamp, F. (2008), Consumers' taste for rarity drives sturgeons to extinction. Conservation Letters, 1: 199–207. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-263X.2008.00038.x
- Issue published online: 16 DEC 2008
- Article first published online: 5 NOV 2008
- Received: 9 July 2008; accepted: 9 October 2008
- Anthropogenic Allee effect;
- consuming behavior;
- game theory modeling;
- luxury goods;
- wildlife trade
The international market for luxury goods puts pressure on many wildlife species, with potentially irreversible consequences for many of them. Although classical economic theory suggests that trade alone would not drive a rare species to extinction, in practice numerous species are being threatened by overexploitation. This is for example the case for sturgeons, exploited for their caviar, of which all 27 species are threatened with extinction. We performed a caviar-tasting experiment, combined with a modeling approach merging ecological theory and psychosociology. This allowed us to demonstrate that the human predisposition to place exaggerated value on rarity drives sturgeons’ overexploitation, despite caviar's ever-increasing price and the imminent loss of these species. These findings suggest that this mechanism probably drives the entire market for wildlife based luxury goods.