∞ generated and posted on 2016.08.29 ∞
Maximum population size that can persist indefinitely within an environment.
Carrying capacities represent the population size limit at which a population quite literally can live sustainably, which is another way of saying that the population is neither exploiting nor degrading their environments any faster than those environments can recover.
For a population sustained at its carrying capacity within a stable environment, births will exactly balance deaths and so the population will neither be increasing over time nor decreasing. That is, the population will experience zero population growth.
An equivalent means of viewing carrying capacity is that it represents that amount of resources which an environment can provide to a population indefinitely, either periodically or continuously, without losing this ability along with the capacity of that same environment to assimilate or otherwise remove organism waste products without resulting loss of this capacity.
A population that exceeds its carrying capacity will degrade its environment so fast that the carrying capacity in a sense will be reduced, resulting potentially in population crashes.