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What Is Biotic Potential? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 Biotic Potential &…
  • 1:05 Examples of Biotic Potential
  • 2:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ebony Potts

Ebony has taught middle and high school physical science, life science & biology. She's also been an assistant principal and has a doctorate in educational administration.

What does the term 'biotic potential' mean? What are the factors that contribute to calculating and comparing the biotic potential of one organism to that of another? In this lesson you will learn the definition of this term as well as some of the ecological phenomena that surround it.

Biotic Potential & Population Limits

If you've studied any general biology before viewing this lesson, you probably have heard the word 'biotic' before. Biotic means life or living thing. Knowing that 'biotic' means life, you might be able to guess the meaning of the term 'biotic potential'. Biotic potential is the potential for life, or how fast a species reproduces when not limited by its environment. How does this term apply to organisms? And how can you compare the biotic potential of one organism to another?

All living things have needs and certain substances that are required for survival. Examples of these needs include water, shelter, and food or energy. The resources available to any specific organism are not infinite in their environment, they are limited. Therefore, anything in an environment that limits the ability of a population to expand is referred to as a limiting factor. Once an environment reaches the maximum number of any one species that it has sufficient resources to support, it is said to have reached its carrying capacity.

Examples of Biotic Potential

Biotic potential ignores both carrying capacity and limiting factors. Biotic potential examines just how fast the population can grow when limits are removed. To compare the biotic potential of two organisms, you would examine how many offspring the two organisms can produce in a prescribed time frame. The organism that produces the most organisms in that time frame has the most biotic potential.

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