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Serious Science: Biological Carrying Capacity
Serious Science: Biological Carrying Capacity

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You want the skinny on Biological Carrying Capacity? Then discover the answers by watching this Serious Science video and reading the information below. And to take this learning adventure into your classroom, have your teacher download the free Lesson Activities at the bottom of this page so everyone can share in the fun of this inquiry based learning.

So if an ecosystem can only support a limited number of a certain species before problems begin happening... how do scientists determine what that number is and what things can affect it?

Fish and wildlife biologists manage natural resources for the overall health of certain species and the ecosystem where they live. But sometimes a healthy ecosystem gets damaged when too many of a certain species eats all the food. Just imagine a swarm of locusts eating all the vegetation in sight. Once an ecosystem gets that damaged, it can impact the health of everything that lives there. So what’s the right balance?

Biologists call the right balance the “biological carrying capacity”. It’s the capacity of an ecosystem to “carry” or support a healthy number of a certain species. For instance, if a forest type supports two healthy bears per square mile, what happens if four bears try to live there? They may eat all the available food and not find enough to remain healthy. Plus, if they eat all the fruit and nuts, they might damage the next generation of fruit and nut plants in the ecosystem. Everything loses.

Hmmm, makes you wonder...  what variables can affect the biological carrying capacity of an ecosystem for a certain species?

Ah ha, it's the:

  1. Abundance of food sources
  2. Sustainability of different food sources
  3. Competition for food from other species

To find out more about how all this works in a lake with different fish species, just click on the "Learn More" below. Plus, the educational partner noted below supported the video and lesson content here for all of us to learn from. They also offer other learning opportunities on their website. So click on their logo and discover more!