Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Arizona
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Arizona Project

Providing Data to Educators to Support Increased Teaching of the Concept of “Carrying Capacity” in Core Curriculum.

June 2016 - December 2016


Participating Agencies

  • Arizona Game & Fish Dept.

In the latest four Gallup polls, only 1–3% of Americans consider environmental problems the most pressing issue our country faces. Approximately 40% of Americans think that climate change is a natural cycle, contrasted with 97% of climate studies that state that humans are causing it. Natural resource scientists hear government officials, newscasters, and members of the general public offer as ecological “facts” notions that are breathtakingly wrong. These data suggest that scientific information has outpaced the efforts of science educators and communicators to help society move towards understanding the concept of carrying capacity and taking action to live within our environmental means. We teamed with K-12 science teachers to compile data about societies that have collapsed because they reached levels in excess of their carrying capacity, argued that data supported increased emphasis on teaching the concept, and identified educational units designed to present the concept to varying-aged school children. This information was published in the October, 2016 issue of The American Biology Teacher.

Research Publications Publication Date
Bonar, S. A. , D. A. Fife, and J. S. Bonar. 2016. How well are you teaching one of the most important biological concepts for humankind? A call to action. The American Biology Teacher 78(8):623. October 2016