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A system dynamics method to assess carrying capacity of a defined natural environment is presented. The proposed method seeks to relate per capita resource usage to ranges of population and per capita consumption beyond which the system is not viable relative to population dependent resource constraints. It provides a platform to investigate system behavior through system dynamics simulations where populations change, natural resources decay due to stressor impacts, and feedback occurs via implementation of policy. Application of the model to a case study of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) of phosphorous in Bear Lake, a Lake Michigan estuary (USA), shows the major total phosphorous (P) loading contribution is anthropogenic land use development. Three scenarios are quantitatively explored by assuming changes in land use and/or loading rates. Simulation results show tradeoffs between reduction of total P and land use; economic development can be flexibly evaluated against targets of loading reduction trajectories.

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© 2016 2016 Journal of Sustainable Development. Publisher's version of record deposited here in compliance with publisher policies. Publisher’s version of record:

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Journal of Sustainable Development


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