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Examples of Logistic Growth

6 April, 2016 - 17:26

Yeast, a microscopic fungus used to make bread and alcoholic beverages, exhibits the classical S-shaped curve when grown in a test tube (Figure 19.6). Its growth levels off as the population depletes the nutrients that are necessary for its growth. In the real world, however, there are variations to this idealized curve. Examples in wild populations include sheep and harbor seals (Figure 19.6). In both examples, the population size exceeds the carrying capacity for short periods of time and then falls below the carrying capacity afterwards. This fluctuation in population size continues to occur as the population oscillates around its carrying capacity. Still, even with this oscillation, the logistic model is confirmed.


Figure 19.6 (a) Yeast grown in ideal conditions in a test tube shows a classical S-shaped logistic growth curve, whereas (b) a natural population of seals shows real-world fluctuation. The yeast is visualized using differential interference contrast light micrography. (credit a: scalebar data from Matt Russell)

If the major food source of seals declines due to pollution or overfishing, which of the following would likely occur?
  1. The carrying capacity of seals would decrease, as would the seal population.
  2. The carrying capacity of seals would decrease, but the seal population would remain the same.
  3. The number of seal deaths would increase, but the number of births would also increase, so the population size would remain the same.
  4. The carrying capacity of seals would remain the same, but the population of seals would decrease.