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The circle of life is a philosophy that represents the infinite nature of energy, meaning if something dies it gives new life to another. Of course, this is merely a cover for the Lions true purpose of preserving their livestock. It's one thing to sing along to this tune when you are a carnivore at the top of the food chain. But when your a herbivore struggling to survive and provide for your litter, spending your days looking for food while running from predators who want to eat you alive, this is total BS.

These poor creatures are expected to go along with this hierarchy, worshipping the Lions of the pride lands as leaders, only to be hunted down and suffer a slow horrific death with chewing and go "oh well circle of life lol". The animals of the pride lands decide that they don't much care to be treated this way any longer. They rebel against their masters, slaughtering all the Lions and any other carnivores in the area, ushering in a new age. They are now able to live in peace and harmony, no longer having to look over their shoulders.

However, there is a problem. Many herbivores reproduce quickly and in large liters. With an absence of predators, there is a real danger of certain species exploding in numbers, leading to overgrazing, deforestation, and other problems.

What natural mechanism does an environment need in order to prevent this from happening?

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  • $\begingroup$ Please clearly define "predator" because "any other predator" could cover anything that kills herbivores, which um no. $\endgroup$ – Ash Aug 4 at 13:38
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    $\begingroup$ You know this is kinda the plot for Orwell's Animal Farm, right? You've just replaced humans with lions. $\endgroup$ – Renan Aug 4 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Renan never read it. $\endgroup$ – Incognito Aug 4 at 14:43
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Given the creatures are clearly intelligent they use one of the solutions humans used.

  1. Limited births, several countries have legal limits on the number of offspring to limit population growth.

  2. War, famine, and disease, this has been the most popular if unintentional limiting factor on humans population growth. Famine and disease are obvious outcomes of unchecked population growth, and environmental stress encourages war which is really good at limiting population growth and encouraging famine and disease.

  3. Culling, this is how humans controlled animal populations in which they have destoryed most of the predators.

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    $\begingroup$ The most effective limit humans have is prosperity. Without exception, as people become prosperous enough (roughly $10,000 per capita income) their fertility decreases to below the replacement level. $\endgroup$ – Mark Olson Aug 4 at 14:23
  • $\begingroup$ @MarkOlson true, but it will not work for R strategist animals. It is also only possible with advanced technology, and if they are willing to wipe out dozens of species I doubt they are at that level. $\endgroup$ – John Aug 4 at 15:40
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Read up on r/K selection theory.

Explosive breeding characteristics are an adaptation to predation, not a precursor to it. Species in environments without predators tend to adapt towards smaller numbers of offspring and longer periods of parental care-taking. Explosive breeding in such environments is non-selective because it strips the environment of resources, and a resource-poor environment tends to favor members which put more effort into raising offspring.

Some species have adapted to innate forms of population control. For example, there is a species of tern (if I remember correctly) in which males have an instinctual drive to dance with every other male of their flock before they settle down to breed. The larger the population is, the longer this instinctive dance pattern takes, and the shorter the effective breeding time for the flock, resulting in smaller numbers of offspring.

Adaptation to an environment is a species characteristic, not an individual one, and the selective force always leans towards stable systems. Don't overestimate the influence or importance of predation.

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