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Hello Mr. Hintz! I am currently studying ecology. Can you please explain to me what population is. I am having a hard time understanding all of the parts of it. For example what is limiting factors, carrying capacity, biotic potential, and exponential growth?

Hi Lucy
First of all in ecology a population consists of all the members of the same species. As to the definitions:
 Population growth occurs exponentially  (2,4,8,16,32 etc.) as opposed to arithmetically(1,2,3,4,5,6, etc)
 The biotic potential refers to the largest number of individual organisms that can be produced under ideal conditions. (Birth rate minus mortality rate)
 The carrying capacity refers to the maximum number of individuals that the can survive under the current environment conditions and he limiting factors are the biotic and abiotic conditions that determine all of this.
 For example lets look at a population of field mice in a given area. They reproduce exponentially and under ideal conditions could go from 2 to 100,00 in a year( biotic potential) but it doesn't happen because of limited food supply and predation (limiting factors) Therefore the carrying capacity might the population to maybe 100 per hundred square meters. This figure is a guess on my part but I think you see what I mean


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walter hintz


I can answer questions involving freshwater biology and oceanography and questions regarding ecological concepts and problems.


I have an MSc in hydrobiology and have taught many courses in ecology and environmental science at the high school and college level

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