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Every population will grow to the limits of its ability to obtain resources. The more similar the ecological niches of different species, the greater the competition and more difficult it becomes to maintain a variety of different populations. G.F. Gause, a Russian biologist, attempted to investigate competition by growing cultures of two closely related species of paramecium separately and together. In all cases, the food source was the same. As figure 5.1 illustrates, each population could survive when isolated, but when grown together, following an initial population growth for each group, one population eventually dominated. This had led to the idea, sometimes called Gause’s principle, that if two population of organisms occupy the same ecological niche, one of the population will be eliminated. This phenomenon would represent the ultimate in interspecific competition.
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