The population of a herd of sheep declines exponentially. If it takes 3 years for 15% to decline then how long will it take for half the population to decrease ?

1 Answer
Mar 14, 2017

Answer:

It would take 12.8 years.

Explanation:

Let initial number of sheep #sf(=S_0)#

Let the number of sheep remaining after time t #sf(=S_t)#

The equation for exponential decay gives us:

#sf(S_t=S_0e^(-kt))#

If the number of sheep have declined by 15% then the number remaining must be 85% of the original total.

So #sf(S_t=085S_0)#

Putting in the numbers:

#sf(0.85cancel(S_0)=cancel(S_0)e^(-k3))#

Taking natural logs of both sides gives:

#sf(ln(0.85)=-k3)#

#:.##sf(-0.1625=-k3)#

#:.##sf(k=0.1625/3=0.05416color(white)(x)"yr"^-1)#

I won't go into the derivation here but it can be shown that the expression for 1/2 life in terms of the decay constant k is given by:

#sf(t_(1/2)=0.693/k)#

#:.##sf(t_(1/2)=0.693/0.05416= 12.8color(white)(x)"yr")#