Limitations of Population Growth

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There are a number of factors that can contribute to the growth of a population and these trends can be seen in a number of species. It is generally believed, from an ecological perspective, that populations will display either an exponential of logistic growth rate. If optimal environments are consistently maintained with no biotic or abiotic limiting factors (excess food, excess space availability, optimum climactic environment, no predation, etc) then a population will grow in an exponential direction. Species with high maximal relative growth rates do not occupy infertile habitats because their physiologies are more sensitive to suboptimal habitats and so their relative growth rates decrease more rapidly as fertility of the environment decreases (Shipley, 1988). A logistic curve will occur in population growth if the population is exposed to at least one limiting factor. The logistics model is and empirical description of how a population tends to grow when environmental conditions are not optimal. Although these two models can be seen in some species of organisms such as bacteria, they are rarely exhibited in natural occurring populations in the wild. In nature population growth in organisms is seen as more or less regular oscillations with high and low points, termed, the time lag model. In the time lag model there is a lag between a change in the environment and a corresponding change in the rate of population growth. These cyclic oscillations are influenced by the environment which the organism inhabits. Changes in the environment can affect numerous functions of an organism including natality (amount of births in a population) and mortality (number of deaths in a population). Laboratory populations of Daphnia are a good example of the effect of time lags on population growth (BOOK)!!!!!!. In this experiment Daphnia magna were utilized to observe the direct relationship of one limiting factor (food in this case) on the dynamics...
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