Animal Survival

There are a number of limiting factors that affect the distribution of animal species within a community

  • These include temperature, territory for feeding and breeding, water access and food supply


  • Animal survival typically relies on a narrow temperature range – few animals can survive temperature extremes
  • Poikilotherms cannot maintain thermal homeostasis and must occupy environments according to temperature needs
  • Homeotherms can regulate their own internal body temperatures and hence can occupy a wider range of habitats
  • Body size will play a fundamental role in determining an animal’s capacity to retain heat (i.e. SA:Vol ratio)


  • Territorial boundaries may determine an animals capacity to attract mates, rear young, forage for food and avoid predators
  • Territories may be temporary (e.g. migration / breeding sites) or alternatively may be permanent
  • In certain species, juveniles may have different environmental requirements to adults (e.g. tadpoles and frogs)
  • Establishment of territories can lead to intraspecific and interspecific competition

Food Availability

  • Availability of a food supply is a critical determinant in influencing population size and distribution
  • Animals may require a particular plant or animal species as a food source – limiting their spread to certain regions 
  • Seasonal or geographic variations may directly affect food availability within a population (e.g. seasonal migrations)

Ecological Limiting Factors – Animals

animal factors