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Desert Diary
Culture/Limited Resources


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Some themes occur at many different levels in nature, often extending into human affairs. We've all heard, time and time again in our capitalist society, that competition is good. And so it usually is—for the consumer, that is. On the other hand, the last thing that businesses want is effective competition, knowing that it reduces profits and may drive them into bankruptcy. After all, competition only occurs when there aren't enough resources to go around. If two or more entities are after the same limited necessity, they divide up something that isn't abundant enough in the first place, and neither gets as much as they would like or need.

In business, the limited resource is the customers. What's the connection with nature? For predators in the wild, the limited resource is their prey. Our Chihuahuan Desert carnivores, given the opportunity, will often kill members of different carnivorous species, thus decreasing the number of their competitors. But of course, businesses would never resort to such unfair practices in order to kill off other businesses to reduce competition. Right?
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Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Mountain Lion

A treed Mountain Lion (Felis concolor). Photograph by D. W. Pfitzer, courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.