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Monday, October 25, 2010

What are Limiting Factors?

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The growth of population is automatically controlled or limited by certain factors called as limiting factors. Water, food, cover, and space determine the growth of any population in an area. Hence these are regarded as limiting factors in that area. However, presence of large numbers of natural enemies or predators in that area may be another limiting factor that may limit the size of population even if all the other factors remain in sufficient magnitude.

Limiting factors in an area determine the carrying capacity of that area. No population can maintain itself beyond the carrying capacity of its habitat or the environment. If population in an area increases beyond its carrying capacity, it will soon become a prey to stress, starvation, disease, predation, and parasites. Here are some examples of limiting factors-

(i). 10 rabbits may live in a habitat that has enough water, cover and space to support 20 rabbits, but if there is only enough food for ten rabbits, the population will not grow any larger. In this example, food is the limiting factor.

(ii). There may be enough food to support a thousand birds in a certain area, but only suitable nesting sites for one hundred. Hence, scarcity of enough space is the limiting factor in this example.

(iii). There may be plenty of food, water, cover and space to support a larger population of pheasants in an area, but predators are the limiting factor.

(iii). There may be enough trees in a forest for bats but public disturbance is a limiting factor

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