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Population Growth and Regulation

19 November, 2015 - 16:25

Populations with unlimited resources grow exponentially—with an accelerating growth rate. When resources become limiting, populations follow a logistic growth curve in which population size will level off at the carrying capacity.

Populations are regulated by a variety of density-dependent and density-independent factors. Life- history characteristics, such as age at first reproduction or numbers of offspring, are characteristics that evolve in populations just as anatomy or behavior can evolve over time. The model of r- and K- selection suggests that characters, and possibly suites of characters, may evolve adaptations to population stability near the carrying capacity (K-selection) or rapid population growth and collapse (r- selection). Species will exhibit adaptations somewhere on a continuum between these two extremes.