Community in Biology – Concept, characteristics and examples

We explain what a community is in biology, examples and characteristics. What is individual and species, community and population.

Biological community
A biological community is made up of populations that share the same habitat.

What is a biological community?

In biology, we speak of community or biological community, but also ecological community, biotic community or biocenosis, to refer to the total set of organisms of various species that coexist and interrelate in the same biotope or habitat, in which they find the environmental conditions to guarantee their survival.

In other words, it is a set of different populations that share life in a geographic region and influenced by physical environmental elements such as temperature, humidity, amount of sunlight, etc. Biological communities can be found in the most diverse and remote of habitats, since life on the planet is widely scattered and adapted to each environment, even when it comes to microorganisms in the intestine of another animal.

That said, biological communities can be of various types:

  • Phytocenosis. The set of plant species in a habitat;
  • Zoocenosis. The set of animal species in a habitat;
  • Microbiocenosis. The set of microorganisms in a habitat.

We can also speak of agrobiocenosis to refer to the animal and plant populations of the arable field, as in the farms created by our species.

Example of biological community

Biological community
In a garden you can find populations of plants, animals and fungi.

A perfect example of a biological community we can find it in a garden. In it we can identify various plant populations: grass, flower bushes, perhaps a couple of fruit trees, along with populations of fungi and animal populations: ants, earthworms, slugs, beetles, birds and surely a cat. Each different species of living thing makes up a specific population, and their life together makes up the garden community.

Between these species there will be interspecific relationships: ants feed on the remains of dead animals, slugs on plant leaves, while beetles feed on flower nectar, and birds, in turn, on beetles, earthworms and slugs. It is even possible that the cat preys on the birds, becoming the final predator of this small community.

If we add to our example the amount of light the plants receive, the specific climate of our region of the city, and other geographical details regarding where the garden is located, we can broaden our perspective and talk about an ecosystem.

Characteristics of a biological community

Biological community
Interspecific relationships determine food chains.

Biological communities are, first of all, made up of populations. Each population restricted to a species, that is, to a number of individuals capable of reproducing among themselves and sharing geographic habitat, also referred to as a biotope.

In that sense, in the same community there will be populations of animals, plants, etc., and between them there will be various types of interactions, that is, interspecific relationships. The latter, in addition, will dictate the trophic chains of each community and at the same time the ecological niche of each species, that is, the specific type of relationships that it maintains with the others.

Thus, communities are largely determined by the number of species that inhabit it (its biodiversity), by the number of individuals that make up each determined population (its abundance), and the ability of a community to return to normal once risk situations, such as drought or fire, have been overcome.

Consideration of a community and its physical environment results in an ecosystem.

Individual and species

Every living being that exists, be it plant, animal, fungus or microbe, is an individual endowed with a unique and unrepeatable life, endowed with a unique genetic code and completely individual basic needs. But at the same time he is part of a much larger set of individuals who share many of his biological and genetic characteristics with him and who could (at least in cases where there is sexual reproduction) reproduce with him. This larger set is called the species.

The species share an evolutionary origin and are perpetuated over time through the reproduction of their individuals, preserving their genetic legacy while introducing minimal variations or adaptations that allow them to stay alive in their chosen environment. This process is known as adaptation and in radical cases it can cause radical changes in the genotype that start a new species, in a process called speciation, which is essential to understand the evolution of life, as Charles Darwin did. understood in his work The origin of species.

The mixture, if possible, of individuals of close but different species yields hybrid individuals, which may contain characteristics of both species but are always sterile. This is the case of the mule, for example, a hybrid between horse and donkey.

Community and population

Biological populations are the groups of individuals of the same species that share the same habitat and that tend to reproduce among themselves. There are different types of populations (gregarious, family, in colony, etc.) but always their individuals share fundamental biological characteristics.

However, a community is determined by the set of different populations that make life in the same habitat. That is, by the sum of the different species that are interrelated in the same habitat, forming a trophic chain and that compete for the continuity of their species.