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What would happen to the exponential growth curve of a population if a pollutant or a...

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catlover | Student, College Freshman | (Level 3) Honors

Posted October 20, 2009 at 11:24 AM via web

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What would happen to the exponential growth curve of a population if a pollutant or a new predator were introduced into an environement?

Please answer separately what would happen if a pollutant were introduced and what would happen if a new predator were introduced. Thanks!

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mr-angel | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted October 20, 2009 at 2:11 PM (Answer #1)

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Exponential growth is achieved with any population that has no limiting factors on their reproduction rate.  Bacteria (commonly called germs) make for a good example because of how quickly they reproduce.  If bacteria have ample food, optimum temperature, and space a colony of bacteria achieves exponential growth.  It continues to exponentially grow until some factor inhibits growth (say, buildup of waste concentrations)  So, the question at hand is does the pollutant actually affect the population that is being studied?  If that pollutant does not affect the population's food supply, habitat, or otherwise constrict reproduction then the curve will remain exponential.

A new predator being introduced on the population will only disrupt the exponential growth if its impact is less than the prey population's growth.  In other words, if your bacteria culture is doubling every 6 hours and your predator cannot remove a large percentage quicker than that, the prey population continues to grow. 

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