Limiting Factors in the Ecosystem

By Ma Wen Jie; Updated April 24, 2017
A close-up of a green iguana.

Limiting factors are environmental factors that limit population sizes in a particular ecosystem.

Food

A puffin carries sand eels in its bill.

Food and nutrients are a major limiting factor in ecosystems. If an ecosystem is not able to produce enough food, a percentage of the animals and organisms living in that ecosystem will not survive.

Temperature

A herd of hippopotamus bathe and rest in the mud.

Temperature limits the types of organisms and animals that can survive in a particular ecosystem, and can affect their overall numbers.

Water

A grizzly bear chases a fish in the water.

Living organisms require water. If water is limited, the ability of an ecosystem to support life is limited.

Natural Resources

A man builds the frame of a house.

Natural resources are a limiting factor for most human populations in ecosystems. If natural resources such as wood for cooking and heat are more limited, a particular ecosystem will be less able to support larger populations of humans.

Predation

A group of gazelles stand still.

Predators limit the growth of some populations. For example, lions limit the growth of gazelle populations by hunting.

About the Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.