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Roles of Species in Ecosystems
15:23 — by Queen Nerdling

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Key Questions

  • Answer:

    There are actually multiple similar definitions of the word species with subtle distinctions between them.


    One of the most widely accepted definitions of a species is the biological species concept which states, that a species is a group of individuals that either can or do interbreed and are reproductively distinct from other groups. In this sense, a species is the largest available gene pool.

    There is also the phylogenetic species concept, which states that a species is a diagnosable group of individuals with a paternal pattern of descent and ancestry, meaning these individuals have the same pattern of ancestry and share traits that are absent in other species. This is a definition that is often used to describe species that are extinct, as we cannot observe breeding.

    The evolutionary species concept is closely related to the phylogenetic species concept and states that a species is a group with its own lineage and distinct evolutionary role and tendencies.

    To learn more about what is a species, check out this link or this one for the multiple definitions of species. To read more about the conundrum of defining a species, see this Encyclopedia of Life article. To see a compilation of even more definitions, see this link.

  • There are different ways that species can adapt to their environments. The genome of living organisms are the basis that allows them to modify previous features related to anatomo-physiological and behavioral characteristics that were typical and common to the original environment, in which these species evolved.

    For example, imagine a normal white person consistently exposed to the sun. The higher and constant stimulus provided by the new environment (i.e. larger amount of radiation) forces the organism to produce more melanin, the related skin and tissue protein which protect the respective tissues and body from excessive incoming and dangerous sunlight. So, there's a tendency to produce more and more melanin, but its production is limited to the genetic capacity to response on this phenomena. A person who have albinism #"could not"# response in these ways, because there's #"NO"# genetic basis to produce melanin!

    Also, you could hypothesize living beings fitting low air moisture and pressure, different average temperatures, soil constitution, concentration of solved oxigen in water or atmosphere, and so on. The response generated varies, comparatively, on the driving forces of the biotic and abiotic environmental pressure (weak, moderate or strong) and the own capacity to produce immediate responses to the new facing stimulus. That kind of immediate and specific response is called #"acclimatization"#, and it's related to the phenotypic plasticity of the organism.

    #"Adaptation"# is, by itself definition, related to the #"evolution"# of new genetic traits on the genome of some population or species, giving them new abilities to response positively to diverse environmental stimulus. Thus, some species will only adapt to new conditions if their modified genome evolve in this new environment, fixing the new aleles/genes related to that kind of phenotype response.

  • Answer:

    Humans ( Homo sapiens ), moose ( Alces laces ), black bears ( Ursus americans ), jack pines ( Pinus banksiana ) are all examples of different species.


    There are multiple definitions of what exactly is a species. Thus, there are instances in which one species is considered two species by a different group of scientists, and there are instances when determining if something is a new species is challenging, for example, in hybrid zones.

    Examples of widely recognized species include

    The Brazil nut tree (Bertholletia excelsa )
    The whale shark (Rhincodon typus)

    The Australian ant (Nothomyrmecia macrops )

    Staghorn coral (Astreopora expansa)

    There are many more species yet to be discovered, particularly insects, plants, and other non-mammal species.


    You can read about a tree of life for 2.3 million species here .


  • Double-check the answer
    David Drayer answered · 11 months ago