Environmental Science: A Global Concern   5/e   Cunningham/Saigo
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Chapter 6: Population Dynamics

Chapter Key Terms

Chapter 6: Population Dynamics



Environmental factors caused by nonliving components.

arithmetic growth  


A pattern of growth that increases at a constant amount per unit time, such as 1, 2, 3, 4 or 1, 3, 5, 7.



Pertaining to life; environmental factors created by living organisms.

biotic potential  


The maximum reproductive rate of an organism, given unlimited resources and ideal environmental conditions. Compare with environmental resistance.

carrying capacity  


The maximum number of individuals of any species that can be supported by a particular ecosystem on a long-term basis.

catastrophic systems  


Dynamic systems that jump abruptly from one seemingly steady state to another without any intermediate stages.

chaotic systems  


Systems that exhibit variability, which may not be necessarily random, yet whose complex patterns are not discernible over a normal human timescale.



A sudden population decline; also called a population crash.



The movement of members from a population.

environmental resistance  


All the limiting factors that tend to reduce population growth rates and set the maximum allowable population size or carrying capacity of an ecosystem.

exponential growth  


Growth at a constant rate of increase per unit of time; can be expressed as a constant fraction or exponent. See geometric growth.



The physical ability to reproduce.

geometric growth  


Growth that follows a geometric pattern of increase, such as 2, 4, 8, 16, etc. See exponential growth.

irruptive growth  


A population explosion followed by a population crash; also called Malthusian growth.

J curve  


A growth curve produced by a constant rate of unfettered growth.

life expectancy  


The probable number of years of survival for an individual of a given age.

life span  


The longest period of life reached by a given type of organism.

logistic growth  


Growth rates regulated by internal and external factors that establish an equilibrium with environmental resources.



Death rate in a population; the probability of dying.



The production of new individuals by birth, hatching, germination, or cloning.



The extent to which a population exceeds the carrying capacity of its environment.

population crash  


A sudden population decline caused by predation, waste accumulation, or resource depletion; also called a dieback.

population explosion  


Growth of a population at exponential rates to a size that exceeds environmental carrying capacity; usually followed by a population crash.

population momentum  


A potential for increased population growth as young members reach reproductive age.

S curve  


A curve that depicts logistic growth; called an S curve because of its shape.

stress-related disease  


See stress shock.

stress shock  


A loose set of physical, psychological, and/or behavioral changes thought to result from the stress of excess competition and extreme closeness to other members of the same species.



The percentage of a population reaching a given age or the proportion of the maximum life span of the species reached by any individual.

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