Environmental Literacy of Ohio Adults

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Environmental literacy is defined as an understanding of natural systems combined with how they interact with human social systems. Past surveys have measured the pollution knowledge of adults. This study instead examined Ohio adult's knowledge of ecological principles as the basis of understanding. A telephone survey of 504 Ohio adults measured their knowledge of ecological principles. As a group, Ohio adults appear to understand four principles of ecology: biogeography, the earth as a biosphere, ecological energetics, and carrying capacity. Some additional attention should be paid to teaching Ohio adults about three principles of ecology: ecosystem succession, biotic interactions, and the importance of diversity. Most importantly, Ohio adults must learn more about the principle of materials cycling. Ohio adults showed poor understanding of the nitrogen, phosphorus, and hydrologic cycle and bioaccumulation.


Author Institution: Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, The Ohio State University ; Strategic Research Group ; School of Health Sciences, Ohio University



The Ohio Journal of Science. v99, n3 (June, 1999), 57-61