Biotic Factors Affecting Population Growth
Biotic factors affect population of organisms. The term is widely used in ecology and is used to refer to life. Therefore, biotic factors refer to activities of a living thing that affects the living of another organism in its environment. Biotic factors in a community are essential in creating a balance of life in the ecosystem.
Competition for food
Competition for food is an example of biotic factor that affects population growth. A red and grey squirrel living in the same community competes for food. They look for food from the same source.
Snails cannot reproduce well in an environment with low calcium despite the amount of food available to them. This is because they need minerals for shell growth. Therefore, the quality, type and quantity of food in a habitat are very important.
Predators are also biotic factors that affect population growth. This is common in predator prey relationships. For instance, the moose population is very high in Isle Royale where the wolves, have more access to food by preying on the moose. This is a factor that supports or increases the growth of wolf population.
When prey population grows bigger, it becomes easy for predators to find food. When predator population falls, prey increases in number.
Parasites are biotic factors that can lead to growth of population. Parasites often live on a host organism causing harm to the host for instance a tick on a cow and the Ascaris roundworm on pigs. The Ascaris roundworm relies on pigs for food. The parasite lives on the digestive tract of the animal for food as well as reproduction. In the long run, the pig falls sick and can easily die.
Parasites also cause diseases that slow population growth by affecting the reproductive system as well as reproductive rate of organisms.
Disease is also a biotic factor that reduces population. It affects populations in many parts of the globe. In the year 1918, there was an outbreak of influenza. It killed 20 to 40 million people across the globe. This was a large number compared to the First World War.
Diseases also affect plant population. Wind transmits diseases from one plant to the other. This often causes death to plants and organisms that feed on plants starve to death when their source of livelihood is affected.
Biotic factors also affect plant populations. Herbivory is common in plants where certain insects can sweep the entire plant population. This causes shortage of food supply for other organisms and even death.
Organisms in soil are also biotic factors that affect plant population. They cause diseases that affect crop production or kill plants.
Pests also feed on plants causing diseases and deaths.
Similarly, parasites feed on plants reducing their population by causing death.
Weeds also have a negative impact on plants. They feed on plants and compete with crops for nutrients, water and space. In extreme cases, plants die and organisms that depend on plants are also affected.
Taller plants also cast shed on shorter trees especially in dense forest affecting population of the trees and organisms that depend on the trees for food and shelter.
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