Explain factors, including matter and energy, in the environment that limit the growth of plant and animal populations in natural ecosystems.
In prior grades students learned to apply key concepts about ecosystems to understand the interactions among organisms and the nonliving environment. In grades 9-11 students learn about the factors that foster or limit growth of populations within ecosystems and that help to maintain the health of the ecosystem overall. Organisms participate in the cycles of matter and flow of energy to survive and reproduce. Given abundant resources, populations can increase at rapid rates. But living and nonliving factors limit growth, resulting in ecosystems that can remain stable for long periods of time. Understanding the factors that affect populations is important for many societal issues, from decisions about protecting endangered species to questions about how to meet the resource needs of civilization while maintaining the health and sustainability of Earth’s ecosystems.
Population growth is limited by the availability of matter and energy found in resources, the size of the environment, and the presence of competing and/or predatory organisms.