The** main difference** between biotic potential and reproductive potential is that **biotic potential is the maximum reproductive capacity of a population under optimal conditions, whereas reproductive potential is the relative capacity of a population to reproduce itself under optimal conditions.** Furthermore, the components of the biotic potential include potential natality, survival potential, nutritive potential, and protective potential. On the other hand, the reproductive potential of a population is a function of biomass, sex ratio, maturity at age, realized fecundity and gamete viability.

In brief, biotic potential and reproductive potential are two measurements used to describe population growth. Further, these two measurements depend on the birthrate and mortality rate.

### Key Areas Covered

1. **What is Biotic Potential** * – Definition, Features, Importance*

2. **What is Reproductive Potential** * – Definition, Features, Importance*

3. **What are the Similarities Between Biotic Potential and Reproductive Potential*** – Outline of Common Features*

4. **What is the Difference Between Biotic Potential and Reproductive Potential*** – Comparison of Key Differences*

### Key Terms

*Biotic Potential, Exponential Growth, Logistic Growth, Population Growth, Reproductive Potential*

## What is Biotic Potential

The biotic potential is the maximum reproductive capacity of a population under optimal conditions. Especially, it only occurs when the environmental conditions are very favorable for population growth. Thus, a population exhibits its highest fertility in the biotic potential. For instance, in biotic potential, the population shows its highest birthrate and the lowest mortality rate. Therefore, the vital index of the population in biotic potential has the highest possible value.

**Vital Index = (number of births/number deaths)*100**

Furthermore, the components of the biotic potential include potential natality and survival potential. Here, potential natality is the scientific term for birthrate, which is the upper limit to biotic potential in the absence of mortality. On the other hand, survival potential accounts for the number of gametes surviving, which is the reciprocal of mortality. In the absence of mortality, the biotic potential is equal to the reproductive potential.

Moreover, nutritive potential and protective potential can be the other two components of biotic potential. Basically, the nutritive potential is the ability to acquire and use food for growth and energy. Meanwhile, the protective potential is the ability of the organism to protect against dynamic factors of the environment while assuring successful fertilization and permitting care of the young.

## What is Reproductive Potential

The reproductive potential is the relative capacity of the population to reproduce itself under optimal conditions. Generally, environmental resistance restricts the full expression of the biotic potential of a population as any condition can inhibit the increase of the population in number. That means; both, the resources and geographical area, essential for the unrestricted growth are limited for the population. Hence, the population tends to show a logistic growth.

Moreover, logistic growth occurs in a stable population in a particular geographical area. Therefore, the habitat approaches to its finite carrying capacity. Here, the carrying capacity is the maximum number of a population, which can be sustainably supported by the environment. On that account, the type of growth in the reproductive potential shows an S-shaped growth curve, which plateaus at the carrying capacity. But, the biotic potential exhibits an exponential population growth, and produces a J-shaped curve.

## Similarities Between Biotic Potential and Reproductive Potential

- Biotic potential and reproductive potential are two types of measurements of population growth.
- Both depend on the birthrate and mortality rate of the population.

## Difference Between Biotic Potential and Reproductive Potential

### Definition

The biotic potential is the maximum reproductive capacity of a population under optimal conditions, while the reproductive potential is the relative capacity of a population to reproduce itself under optimal conditions.

### Determining Factors

The components of the biotic potential include potential natality, survival potential, nutritive potential, and protective potential, while the reproductive potential of a population is a function of biomass, sex ratio, maturity at age, realized fecundity and gamete viability.

### Survival Potential

Survival potential is considered in the biotic potential, while survival potential is not considered in reproductive potential.

### Degree of Fertility

A population shows its highest fertility at biotic potential, while the population shows lower fertility in reproductive potential.

### Type of Population Growth

The population growth is exponential in biotic potential and produces a J-shaped curve, while the population growth is logistic in reproductive potential and produces an S-shaped curve.

### Availability of Resources

Resources are unlimited in biotic potential, while resources are limited in reproductive potential.

### Competition to Habitats

There is no competition for occupying habitats in biotic potential, while there is a competition for occupying habitats in reproductive potential.

### Occurrence

Biotic potential occurs while establishing a population in a new habitat, starting from a very small number of individuals. In contrast, reproductive potential occurs in a stable population, which occupies a fixed geographical space.

### Conclusion

In conclusion, the biotic potential is the maximum reproductive capacity of a population under optimal conditions. Therefore, the resources and the habitat is unlimited for the population. On that account, the population exhibits its higher fertility rate, leading to an exponential growth of the population. In comparison, the reproductive potential is the relative capacity of the population under optimal conditions. However, resources and geographical area are limited for the population growth. Thereby, the population exhibits a logistic growth. Also, it occurs in a stable population fixed to a particular geographical area. Hence, the main difference between biotic potential and reproductive potential is the type of measurement of population growth.

##### References:

1. Hadi, Ghassan. “Biotic Potential.” *LinkedIn SlideShare*, 1 May 2014, Available Here.

2. “Reproductive Potential.” *Reproductive Potential*, Scottish Government, St. Andrew’s House, Regent Road, Edinburgh EH1 3DG Tel:0131 556 8400 [email protected], 8 Dec. 2009, Available Here.

3. Cornell, Brent. “Population Growth.” *BioNinja*, Available Here.

##### Image Courtesy:

1. “World Population Growth 1700-2100” By Max Roser (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia

2. “Logistic Carrying Capacity” By Nchisick – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia

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