Summarizing Community Ecology


Communities include all the different species living in a given area. The variety of these species is called species richness. Many organisms have developed defenses against predation and herbivory, including mechanical defenses, warning coloration, and mimicry, as a result of evolution and the interaction with other members of the community. Two species cannot exist in the same habitat competing directly for the same resources. Species may form symbiotic relationships such as commensalism or mutualism. Community structure is described by its foundation and keystone species. Communities respond to environmental disturbances by succession (the predictable appearance of different types of plant species) until a stable community structure is established.


aposematic coloration

warning coloration used as a defensive mechanism against predation

Batesian mimicry

type of mimicry where a non-harmful species takes on the warning colorations of a harmful one


avoid detection by blending in with the background.

climax community

final stage of succession, where a stable community is formed by a characteristic assortment of plant and animal species


relationship between species wherein one species benefits from the close, prolonged interaction, while the other species neither benefits nor is harmed

competitive exclusion principle

no two species within a habitat can coexist when they compete for the same resources at the same place and time

Emsleyan/Mertensian mimicry

type of mimicry where a harmful species resembles a less harmful one

environmental disturbance

change in the environment caused by natural disasters or human activities

foundation species

species which often forms the major structural portion of the habitat


organism a parasite lives on

island biogeography

study of life on island chains and how their geography interacts with the diversity of species found there

keystone species

species whose presence is key to maintaining biodiversity in an ecosystem and to upholding an ecological community’s structure

Müllerian mimicry

type of mimicry where species share warning coloration and all are harmful to predators


symbiotic relationship between two species where both species benefit


organism that uses resources from another species, the host

pioneer species

first species to appear in primary and secondary succession

primary succession

succession on land that previously has had no life

relative species abundance

absolute population size of a particular species relative to the population sizes of other species within the community

secondary succession

succession in response to environmental disturbances that move a community away from its equilibrium

species richness

number of different species in a community


close interaction between individuals of different species over an extended period of time that impacts the abundance and distribution of the associating populations

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