Biological specificity

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In biology, biological specificity is the tendency of a characteristic such as a behavior or a biochemical variation to occur in a particular species.

Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their physical structure, chemical processes, molecular interactions, physiological mechanisms, development and evolution. Despite the complexity of the science, there are certain unifying concepts that consolidate it into a single, coherent field. Biology recognizes the cell as the basic unit of life, genes as the basic unit of heredity, and evolution as the engine that propels the creation and extinction of species. Living organisms are open systems that survive by transforming energy and decreasing their local entropy to maintain a stable and vital condition defined as homeostasis.

Behavior or behaviour is the range of actions and mannerisms made by individuals, organisms, systems, or artificial entities in conjunction with themselves or their environment, which includes the other systems or organisms around as well as the (inanimate) physical environment. It is the computed response of the system or organism to various stimuli or inputs, whether internal or external, conscious or subconscious, overt or covert, and voluntary or involuntary.

In biology, a species ( ) is the basic unit of classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individuals of the appropriate sexes or mating types can produce fertile offspring, typically by sexual reproduction. Other ways of defining species include their karyotype, DNA sequence, morphology, behaviour or ecological niche. In addition, paleontologists use the concept of the chronospecies since fossil reproduction cannot be examined. While these definitions may seem adequate, when looked at more closely they represent problematic species concepts. For example, the boundaries between closely related species become unclear with hybridisation, in a species complex of hundreds of similar microspecies, and in a ring species. Also, among organisms that reproduce only asexually, the concept of a reproductive species breaks down, and each clone is potentially a microspecies.

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Biochemist Linus Pauling stated that "Biological specificity is the set of characteristics of living organisms or constituents of living organisms of being special or doing something special. Each animal or plant species is special. It differs in some way from all other species... biological specificity is the major problem about understanding life." [1]

Linus Pauling American scientist

Linus Carl Pauling was an American chemist, biochemist, peace activist, author, educator, and husband of American human rights activist Ava Helen Pauling. He published more than 1,200 papers and books, of which about 850 dealt with scientific topics. New Scientist called him one of the 20 greatest scientists of all time, and as of 2000, he was rated the 16th most important scientist in history.

Subtopics

Characteristics may further be described as being interspecific, intraspecific, and conspecific.

Interspecific

Interspecificity (literally between/among species), or being interspecific, describes issues between individuals of separate species. These may include:

Interspecies communication is communication between different species of animals, plants, or microorganisms.

Interspecific competition where individuals of different species compete for the same resources

Interspecific competition, in ecology, is a form of competition in which individuals of different species compete for the same resources in an ecosystem. This can be contrasted with interspecific cooperation, a type of symbiosis. Competition between members of the same species is called intraspecific competition.

Interspecific feeding refers to behaviour reported in wild animals, particularly birds where adults of one species feed the young of another species. This usually excludes the case of birds feeding brood parasites. The behaviour has been of theoretical interest since it appears to be provide little evolutionary benefit to the feeding bird. Some researchers have suggested that it is mainly male birds that are lured into feeding a fledgling that begs

Intraspecific

Intraspecificity (literally within species), or being intraspecific, describes behaviors, biochemical variations and other issues within individuals of a single species. These may include:

Intraspecific antagonism means a disharmonious or antagonistic interaction between two individuals of the same species. As such, it could be a sociological term, but was actually coined by Alan Rayner and Norman Todd working at Exeter University in the late 1970s, to characterise a particular kind of zone line formed between wood-rotting fungal mycelia. Intraspecific antagonism is one of the expressions of a phenomenon known as vegetative or somatic incompatibility.

Intraspecific competition

Intraspecific competition is an interaction in population ecology, whereby members of the same species compete for limited resources. This leads to a reduction in fitness for both individuals. By contrast, interspecific competition occurs when members of different species compete for a shared resource. Members of the same species have very similar resources requirements whereas different species have a smaller contested resource overlap, resulting in intraspecific competition generally being a stronger force than interspecific competition.

Conspecific

Two or more individual organisms, populations, or taxa are conspecific if they belong to the same species. [2] Where different species can interbreed and their gametes compete, the conspecific gametes take precedence over heterospecific gametes. This is known as conspecific sperm precedence, or conspecific pollen precedence in plants.

Heterospecific

The antonym of conspecificity is the term heterospecificity: two individuals are heterospecific if they are considered to belong to different biological species. [3]

Congeners are organisms within the same genus. [4]

See also

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Systematics The study of the diversification and relationships among living things through time

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Hybrid (biology) offspring of cross-species reproduction

In biology, a hybrid is the offspring resulting from combining the qualities of two organisms of different breeds, varieties, species or genera through sexual reproduction. Hybrids are not always intermediates between their parents, but can show hybrid vigour, sometimes growing larger or taller than either parent. The concept of a hybrid is interpreted differently in animal and plant breeding, where there is interest in the individual parentage. In genetics, attention is focused on the numbers of chromosomes. In taxonomy, a key question is how closely related the parent species are.

Biological interaction Any process in which an organism has an effect on another organism

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Competition (biology) Interaction where the fitness of one organism is lowered by the presence of another organism

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Niche segregation

Species use restricted ecological niches, and the niches of all species are segregated, often with much overlap, by the use of different habitats, different geographic areas and seasons, and different food resources, to mention only a few of the many niche dimensions. The causes of niche restriction and segregation are important problems in evolutionary ecology.

The mechanisms of reproductive isolation are a collection of evolutionary mechanisms, behaviors and physiological processes critical for speciation. They prevent members of different species from producing offspring, or ensure that any offspring are sterile. These barriers maintain the integrity of a species by reducing gene flow between related species.

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In the study of the biological sciences, biocommunication is any specific type of communication within (intraspecific) or between (interspecific) species of plants, animals, fungi, protozoa and microorganisms. Communication basically means sign-mediated interactions following three levels of rules. Signs in most cases are chemical molecules (semiochemicals), but also tactile, or as in animals also visual and auditive. Biocommunication of animals may include vocalizations, or pheromone production, chemical signals between plants and animals, and chemically mediated communication between plants and within plants.

Outline of evolution Hierarchical outline list of articles related to evolution

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References

  1. Linus Pauling, Barbara Marinacci, Linus Pauling in His Own Words: Selections From His Writings, Speeches and Interviews, (1995), p. 96.
  2. "Conspecificity". Biology online. Retrieved 5 December 2009.
  3. "Heterospecificity". Biology online. Retrieved 5 December 2009.
  4. Congener, Merriam-Webster.com. Accessed 2009-03-25