Limiting factor

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noun, plural: + factors

A factor present in an environment that controls a process, particularly the growth, abundance or distribution of a population of organisms in an ecosystem.


The concept is based upon the Law of the Minimum, which states that the functioning of an organism is controlled or limited by that essential environmental factor or combination of factors present in the least favorable amount that may not be continuously existing but only at some critical period of time.

The availability of food, water, nutrients, shelter, and predation pressure are examples of factors limiting the growth of a population size.

Synonym: limiting resource.

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