Absolute limits to population growth VI – 3 need-to-knows from the real world

For a population of wild horses to grow at an extraordinary rate:

I. a large proportion of mares, especially young mares, must reproduce each year,

II. only a small proportion of the population die each year, and

III. the variability in reproduction and survival between years must be small.

We have imagined a virtual population and conducted a series of simple calculations of its structure, reproduction, and death to understand the plausibility of extraordinary growth rates like 30% per year.

We discovered that growth rates like 30% are improbable over several years but might be possible in some years. However, our calculations assumed some extraordinary rates of reproduction and survival. In the real world, how realistic are such rates?

In a new series, under the category Demography – the study of the statistics of births and deaths – I will amass and compare all reports of horse reproduction and death. It is a large literature and the analysis will accumulate and develope as we delve into it.

I will begin with reproduction. You can’t grow a population without foals.

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