Social animals can live in groups whose numbers vary greatly according to species (for instance wolves vs deer herds vs buffalo stampedes vs lemmings).

Is this number regulated only by environmental factors (resource abundance, position in the food web etc) or is there a genetic upper bound to this number which prevents overcrowding? Put in other words, would a species with endless food resources (but finite space) grow endlessly?

If the genetic regulation is common, then why humans don't seem to be subject to it?

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    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 20:45
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    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 20:46
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    $\begingroup$ @LinuxBlanket Wow, there is quite a stretch between the original question and your rephrasing. Apparently the OP is happy with your rephrasing so good job! $\endgroup$
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    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 20:05

1 Answer 1


this depends on what you mean by group.

If you mean population then it is mostly environmental factors, although part of the environment can be other member of your species, some groups have a minimum functional size, such as passenger pigeons and breeding in groups behavior, or have density controls(if you are too spread out you might never run into another member of your species to breed with) , these internal factors are fairly rare however compared to basic resources availability, things like food, water, territory, shelter, nutrients, ect.

If you mean size of individual packs, herds, ect, then it is a mix of both, behavior which is almost always genetic is the main cause. However this behavior can be alter or triggered by environmental factors and its ultimate evolution is strongly affected by those factors as well. for instance large herd behavior will never evolve if the environment cannot support it, and if the environment changes the behavior may stop being beneficial.


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