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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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Contemporary definitions for limiting-factor
noun

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

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