Biotic potential is the maximum reproductive capacity of a population under
optimum environmental conditions. Full expression of the biotic potential of an
organism is restricted by environmental resistance, any condition that inhibits the
increase in number of the population. It is generally only reached when environmental
conditions are very favorable. A species reaching its biotic potential would exhibit
exponential population growth and be said to have a high fertility, that is, how many
offspring are produced per mother.
Chapman relates to a "vital index":
Vital Index = (number of births/number of deaths)*100
Biotic potential is the highest possible vital index of a species; therefore, when the
species has its highest birthrate and lowest mortality rate.
Components of biotic potential include reproductive potential/potential natality (the
upper limit to biotic potential in the absence of mortality) and survival potential
(Because reproductive potential does not account for the number of gametes
surviving, survival potential is a necessary component of biotic potential; it is the
reciprocal of mortality) (in the absence of mortality, biotic potential = reproductive
Chapman also identified two components: nutritive potential (the ability to acquire
and use food for growth and energy) and protective potential (potential ability of the
organism to protect itself against the dynamic forces of the environment to assure
successful fertilization (mating) and permit care of young).