The number of individuals constituting a population is called population size. Over time population size does not remain constant, it fluctuates to different extent over generations because of several internal and external factors. Populations with violent fluctuation in population size are called unstable and are more prone to extinction as they hit lower population sizes frequently. And once a population in extinct, it is gone for ever. Thus it would be interesting to investigate how population stability evolves.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Could the word 'evolve' be confusing the issue here? $\endgroup$ – Rory M Apr 10 '12 at 10:47
  • $\begingroup$ I think Rory is correct, evolve here is likely implying too much. $\endgroup$ – user560 Apr 10 '12 at 17:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Maybe changing it to develop would be a good idea? $\endgroup$ – nico Apr 11 '12 at 15:05

I guess you meant the population size stability.

It is considered that the biosystems will increase their capacity of adaptation when evolving in very fluctuating environments. I believe the population stability is embedded in the adaptability of individuals.

There is a measurement about it, evolvability, when the environment changes, the faster the population adapted to the new environment, the higher evolvability it has. This means that if the population has higher evolvability then the population may be more stable to environmental variation.

Even so, there might be plenty of underlying mechanisms to enable a certain population stability. I recently read a paper about two mechanism: phenotypic switching and sensing machinery, which are common in bacteria and fungi. Please refer to Edo Kussell and Stanislas Leibler's science paper (2005).

As the organism increase its complexity, biosystems invented many more tools to make the individual survival from disasters. Such as human's intelligence. Well it would be an endless issue.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You should consider linking to papers that you mention in answers to help save time for readers :) $\endgroup$ – Rory M Apr 10 '12 at 10:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think you are hinting at the right answer with "population stability is embedded in teh adaptability of individuals." Population size fluctuations seem to be easily explained by the underlying differential equations that describe the interplay between internal and external factors that affect the population (eg, birth, death, disease, migration, predation). Within a given environment, there must be an ideal population size range, whereby anything larger imposes too much drain on resources or stress to individuals, and anything lesser leaves room for expansion. $\endgroup$ – user560 Apr 10 '12 at 17:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.