Elizabeth, a Licensed Massage Therapist, has a Master's in Zoology from North Carolina State, one in GIS from Florida State University, and a Bachelor's in Biology from Eastern Michigan University. She has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.
What Is Intraspecific Competition?
Imagine two oak trees growing next to each other. While it may not seem like it, these two trees are in a constant competition. They both need sunlight, water, and nutrients, and because they are growing so near to each other, they have to fight over those same resources for survival. This competition between members of the same species is called intraspecific competition. This is different from interspecific competition, which is the competition for resources between individuals of different species.
In intraspecific competition, members of the same species may compete for food, shelter, water, and mates. This competition provides a type of control on the population size. If the population grows but the amount of resources stays the same, the resources become limiting. This means that the population can no longer increase in size.
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Examples of Intraspecific Competition
Intraspecific competition can be silent, as with the trees mentioned above, or it can be observed in a variety of ways. Bird songs sound very pretty to us, but they are often signals to other birds that they are not welcome in that area. Bird songs are often used to defend territories that contain breeding areas, shelter, and food.
Other territory signaling may be in the form of marking. Many wild canine and feline species mark their territories with scent. This tells other members of the same species in that area that they have claimed the territory and all of the resources within it.
Ornamental features are a form of intraspecific competition. Intraspecific competition for mates can be quite dramatically observed through ornamental features. For example, male peacocks display beautiful plumage to attract females. Male deer fight each other for mates with their large antlers - the larger set of antlers usually wins this competition.
Let's review. Resources are limited, and this forces members of the same species to compete for them, which is called intraspecific competition. The resources may include food, shelter, water, and mates. The struggle may be visible or silent, but this limited amount of resources is an important factor in controlling population size.
When you are done, you should be able to:
- Explain how intraspecific competition is caused
- Recall how populations are affected by limiting resources
- Recite some examples of intraspecific competition
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Intraspecific Competition: Example & Definition
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