Simberloff, Daniel Department of Biological Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida.
Last reviewed:December 2019
Show previous versions
- Spatial distribution patterns
- Functional organization
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Assemblages of living organisms that occur together in an area. Ecological communities are aggregations of organisms characterized by a distinctive combination of two or more ecologically related species (Fig. 1). The nature of the forces that knit assemblages of living organisms into organized systems and those properties of assemblages that manifest this organization have been topics of intense debate among ecologists. On the one hand, there are those who view a community as simply consisting of species with similar physical requirements, such as temperature, soil type, or light regime. The similarity of requirements dictates that these species be found together, but interactions between the species are of secondary importance and the level of organization is low. On the other hand, there are those who conceive of the community as a highly organized, holistic entity, with species inextricably and complexly linked to one another and to the physical environment, so that characteristic patterns recur, and properties arise that one can neither understand nor predict from a knowledge of the component species. In this view, the ecosystem (physical environment plus its community) is as well organized as a living organism, and constitutes a superorganism. Between these extremes are those who perceive some community organization, but not nearly enough to invoke images of holistic superorganisms. See also: Ecology; Ecosystem; Species concept
The content above is only an excerpt.
for your institution. Subscribe
To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible.
to your librarian. Recommend
Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information.
AccessScience provides the most accurate and trustworthy scientific information available.
Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Contributors include more than 10,000 highly qualified scientists and 45 Nobel Prize winners.
MORE THAN 8700 articles covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology
115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms
3000 biographies of notable scientific figures
MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics
ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research
LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information