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Export to Excel select * from OriginOfSpecies where title = '03-08 - Protection from the Number of Individuals' order by subject, title, ordinal ( Row)
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03 - Struggle for Existence 03-08 - Protection from the Number of Individuals 10 When a species, owing to highly favourable circumstances, increases inordinately in numbers in a small tract, epidemics- at least, this seems generally to occur with our game animals- often ensue; and here we have a limiting check independent of the struggle for life.

But even some of these so-called epidemics appear to be due to parasitic worms, which have from some cause, possibly in part through facility of diffusion amongst the crowded animals, been disproportionally favoured: and here comes in a sort of struggle between the parasite and its prey.

worm
worm

parasite
parasite
prey
prey
03 - Struggle for Existence 03-08 - Protection from the Number of Individuals 20 On the other hand, in many cases, a large stock of individuals of the same species, relatively to the numbers of its enemies, is absolutely necessary for its preservation.

Thus we can easily raise plenty of corn and rape-seed, &c., in our fields, because the seeds are in great excess compared with the number of birds which feed on them; nor can the birds, though having a super-abundance of food at this one season, increase in number proportionally to the supply of seed, as their numbers are checked during the winter; but any one who has tried, knows how troublesome it is to get seed from a few wheat or other such plants in a garden: I have in this case lost every single seed.

corn
corn

rape-seed (canola)
rape-seed (canola)

wheat
wheat

Wheat Seeds
Wheat Seeds

bird
bird


This view of the necessity of a large stock of the same species for its preservation, explains, I believe, some singular facts in nature, such as that of very rare plants being sometimes extremely abundant, in the few spots where they do exist; and that of some social plants being social, that is abounding in individuals, even on the extreme verge of their range.

For in such cases, we may believe, that a plant could exist only where the conditions of its life were so favourable that many could exist together, and thus save the species from utter destruction.

I should add that the good effects of intercrossing, and the ill effects of close interbreeding, no doubt come into play in many of these cases; but I will not here enlarge on this subject.

alpenrose
alpenrose