(June 18, 2009)
Carrying capacity is a hot item in ecology, not only from a scientific point of view, but also from the perspective of policy makers. We are all quite happy to exploit the yield of ecosystems in terms of fisheries. How many tons of mussels can a system such as the Oosterschelde produce? However, we are also sometimes obliged to invest in ecosystems. EU environmental guidelines dictate that we have to make sure that a certain number of birds has to be maintained in particular conservation areas. This means that sufficient area of sufficient ecological quality has to be provided. If it is not there, we have to make sure that it is going to be there. All these issues link to carrying capacity. But what does carrying capacity actually mean? Scientists, fishermen, environmental campaigners and policy makers all have their own interpretation of this concept. This necov symposium will be focused on this. Several speakers on the delta area in Zeeland, on tropical ecosystems and on Flemish and Dutch Lakes will explain how they define carrying capacity and which factors determine carrying capacity in their systems.