limiting factor

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Any environmental factor that – by its decrease, increase, absence, or presence – limits the growth, metabolic processes, or distribution of organisms or populations. In a desert ecosystem, for example, low rainfall and high temperature will be factors limiting colonization. When a metabolic process is affected by more than one factor, the law of limiting factors states that its rate is limited by the factor that is nearest its minimum value. For example, photosynthesis is affected by many factors, such as light, temperature, and carbon dioxide concentration, but on a warm sunny day carbon dioxide concentration will be the limiting factor as light and temperature will be at optimum levels.

Subjects: Biological Sciences.

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