Distribution of Populations

  • Marcelo Hernán Cassini


This chapter deals with the distribution of groups of populations that may cover part of or the whole range of a species. The concept of population remains central in ecological thought and practice. As for many other important terms in ecology, its definition remains elusive (Schaefer 2006). At an organisation level, a population is composed of aggregations, groups, or subpopulations and is a component of communities. A population is formed by individuals of the same species which have little or no contact with other individuals of the same species, so any numerical changes are largely determined by birth and death processes (Caughley 1977; Krebs 1985; Berryman 2002). The concept of population is strongly associated with these internal processes. Due to the effect of scramble competition in close populations, the interplay between the concepts of carrying capacity and intrinsic growth rate, as described by the logistic equation, has become the standard general theory of single-species population growth (Pianka 1974; McNaughton and Wolf 1979). One of the most fundamental assumptions of the logistic equation is that the level of carrying capacity is set by the availability of resources (see review by Soberón 1986). According to this assumption, the answer to the starting question is that the distribution of abundances among a group of populations (closed and in equilibrium) will be a positive accelerating function of habitat suitability.


Population Abundance Intrinsic Growth Rate Population Unit Scramble Competition Ideal Free Distribution 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Berryman AA (2002) Population: a central concept for ecology? Oikos 97:439–442Google Scholar
  2. Brown JH (1984) On the relationship between abundance and distribution of species. Am Nat 124:255–279Google Scholar
  3. Brown JH, Maurer BA (1989) Macroecology: the division of food and space among species on continents. Science 243:1145–1150Google Scholar
  4. Caughley G (1977) Analysis of vertebrate populations. Wiley, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  5. González Suárez M, Gerber LR (2008) A behaviorally-explicit demographic model integrates habitat selection and population dynamics in California sea lions. Conserv Biol 22:1608–1618Google Scholar
  6. Holt RD, Keitt TH (2000) Alternative causes for range limits: a metapopulation perspective. Ecol Lett 3:41–47Google Scholar
  7. Hutchinson GE (1947) A note on the theory of competition between two social species. Ecology 28:319–321Google Scholar
  8. Krebs CJ (1985) Ecology: the experimental analysis of distribution and abundance. Harper & Row, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. McNaughton SJ, Wolf LL (1979) General ecology. Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. Pianka ER (1974) Evolutionary ecology. Harper & Row, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. Pulliam HR (2000) On the relationship between niche and distribution. Ecol Lett 3:349–361Google Scholar
  12. Schaefer JA (2006) Towards maturation of the population concept. Oikos 112:236–240Google Scholar
  13. Slobodkin BL (1953) On social single species populations. Ecology 34:430–434Google Scholar
  14. Soberón JM (1986) The relationship between use and suitability of resources and its consequences to insect population size. Am Nat 127:338–357Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcelo Hernán Cassini
    • 1
  1. 1.National Scientific and Technical Research Council & Luján UniversityBuenos AiresArgentina

Personalised recommendations