Homeostatic Control

Tolerance Limits

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Ben Whitten

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What are tolerance limits?
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Tolerance limits are the ranges held by every organism within which they can tolerate a change in an internal factor. Organisms can survive change in a factor if it remains in their tolerance range, however, if a factor goes outside of their tolerance range, it may be fatal for the organism.


Different tolerance ranges include that of temperature, water balance and different levels of organic and inorganic materials.

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Specific animal examples of tolerance ranges
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The optimal range for an abiotic factor such as pH level or temperature is the range within an organism functions best, and organisms can also function in the zone of physiological stress, but not in the zone of intolerance.


For example, dissolved oxygen in the ocean allows for a number of aquatic animals such as fish, oysters, crabs and others to survive. This is as they require sufficient levels of dissolved oxygen in the water. The amount of dissolved oxygen in an estuary's water is the major factor that determines the type and abundance of organisms that can live there.


When levels of oxygen are within the tolerance range but outside the optimal range, this is known as the zone of physiological stress. Marine life such as crabs and fish have the ability to survive in zones of physiological stress, but they will be lethargic due to their decreased respiration rate.


When air and water temperatures increase, or there are high levels of decomposition of algal blooms, this can lead to oxygen depletion and many animals and plants cannot survive when the dissolved oxygen falls to such low levels.

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Tolerance Limits

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