limiting factor

noun
1.
Physiology. the slowest, therefore rate-limiting, step in a process or reaction involving several steps.
2.
Biology. an environmental factor that tends to limit population size.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
Main Entry:  limiting factor
Part of Speech:  n
Definition:  an environmental variable that limits or slows the growth or activities of an organism; also, any environmental variable whose presence, absence, or abundance restricts the distribution, numbers, or condition of an organism
Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
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Example sentences
Perhaps the major limiting factor for the spacecraft is the small amount of
  fuel needed weekly to maintain its orbit.
One limiting factor of solar power is that access to the sun is not constant.
The real limiting factor for mobile browsing is still connectivity and
  bandwidth.
The limiting factor on gasoline right now is refinery capacity, not oil
  supplies.
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