A biocenosis (UK English, biocoenosis, also biocenose, biocoenose, biotic community, biological community, ecological community, life assemblage,) coined by Karl Möbius in 1877, describes the interacting organisms living together in a habitat (biotope).[1]

In the palaeontological literature, the term distinguishes "life assemblages", which reflect the original living community, living together at one place and time. In other words, it is an assemblage of fossils or a community of specific time, which is different from "death assemblages" (thanatocoenoses).[2] No palaeontological assemblage will ever completely represent the original biological community (i.e. the biocoenosis, in the sense used by an ecologist); the term thus has somewhat different meanings in a palaeontological and an ecological context.[2]

Based on the concept of biocenosis, ecological communities can take in various forms

The geographical extent of a biocenose is limited by the requirement of a more or less uniform species composition.


An ecosystem, originally defined by Tansley (1935), is a biotic community (or biocenosis) along with its physical environment (or biotope). In ecological studies, biocenosis is the emphasis on relationships between species in an area. These relationships are an additional consideration to the interaction of each species with the physical environment.

Biotic communities

Tide pools in santa cruz
The side of a tide pool showing sea stars (Dermasterias), sea anemones (Anthopleura) and sea sponges in Santa Cruz, California.

Biotic communities vary in size, and larger ones may contain smaller ones. Species interactions are evident in food or feeding relationships. A method of delineating biotic communities is to map the food network to identify which species feed upon which others and then determine the system boundary as the one that can be drawn through the fewest consumption links relative to the number of species within the boundary.

Mapping biotic communities is important identifying sites needing environmental protection, such as the British Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). The Australian Department of the Environment and Heritage maintains a register of Threatened Species and Threatened Ecological Communities under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

See also


  1. ^ Möbius, Karl. 1877. Die Auster und die Austernwirtschaft. Verlag von Wiegandt, Hemple & Parey: Berlin, [1]. (English translation: The Oyster and Oyster Farming. U.S. Commission Fish and Fisheries Report, 1880: 683-751, [2].)
  2. ^ a b e.g. Ager, 1963, Principles of Palaeoecology

Further reading

  • Kendeigh, S. Charles. 1961. Animal Ecology. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 468 p.
  • Tansley, A. G. 1935. The use and abuse of vegetational concepts and terms. Ecology, 16(3): 284-307.
Adsorption/Bio-oxidation process

The adsorption/bio-oxidation process is a two-stage modification of the activated sludge process used for wastewater treatment. It consists of a high-loaded A-stage and low-loaded B-stage. The process is operated without a primary clarifier, with the A-stage being an open dynamic biological system. Both stages have separate settling tanks and sludge recycling lines, thus maintaining unique microbial communities in both reactors.


Agrophysics is a branch of science bordering on agronomy and physics,

whose objects of study are the agroecosystem - the biological objects, biotope and biocoenosis affected by human activity, studied and described using the methods of physical sciences. Using the achievements of the exact sciences to solve major problems in agriculture, agrophysics involves the study of materials and processes occurring in the production and processing of agricultural crops, with particular emphasis on the condition of the environment and the quality of farming materials and food production.

Agrophysics is closely related to biophysics, but is restricted to the biology of the plants, animals, soil and an atmosphere involved in agricultural activities and biodiversity. It is different from biophysics in having the necessity of taking into account the specific features of biotope and biocoenosis, which involves the knowledge of nutritional science and agroecology, agricultural technology, biotechnology, genetics etc.

The needs of agriculture, concerning the past experience study of the local complex soil and next plant-atmosphere systems, lay at the root of the emergence of a new branch – agrophysics – dealing this with experimental physics.

The scope of the branch starting from soil science (physics) and originally limited to the study of relations within the soil environment, expanded over time onto influencing the properties of agricultural crops and produce as foods and raw postharvest materials, and onto the issues of quality, safety and labeling concerns, considered distinct from the field of nutrition for application in food science.

Research centres focused on the development of the agrophysical sciences include the Institute of Agrophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences in Lublin, and the Agrophysical Research Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg.

Biological organisation

Biological organization is the hierarchy of complex biological structures and systems that define life using a reductionistic approach. The traditional hierarchy, as detailed below, extends from atoms to biospheres. The higher levels of this scheme are often referred to as an ecological organization concept, or as the field, hierarchical ecology.

Each level in the hierarchy represents an increase in organizational complexity, with each "object" being primarily composed of the previous level's basic unit. The basic principle behind the organization is the concept of emergence—the properties and functions found at a hierarchical level are not present and irrelevant at the lower levels.

The biological organization of life is a fundamental premise for numerous areas of scientific research, particularly in the medical sciences. Without this necessary degree of organization, it would be much more difficult—and likely impossible—to apply the study of the effects of various physical and chemical phenomena to diseases and physiology (body function). For example, fields such as cognitive and behavioral neuroscience could not exist if the brain was not composed of specific types of cells, and the basic concepts of pharmacology could not exist if it was not known that a change at the cellular level can affect an entire organism. These applications extend into the ecological levels as well. For example, DDT's direct insecticidal effect occurs at the subcellular level, but affects higher levels up to and including multiple ecosystems. Theoretically, a change in one atom could change the entire biosphere.

Biological pollution

Biological pollution (impacts or bio pollution) is the impact of humanity's actions on the quality of aquatic and terrestrial environment. Specifically, biological pollution is the introduction of non-indigenous and invasive species.

Biopollution may cause adverse effects at several levels of biological organization:

an individual organism (internal pollution by parasites or pathogens),

a population (by genetic change, i.e. hybridization of IAS with a native species),

a community or biocoenosis (by structural shifts, i.e. dominance of IAS, replacement or elimination of native species),

a habitat (by modification of physical-chemical conditions),

an ecosystem (by alteration of energy and organic material flow).Biopollution may also cause decline in naturalness of nature conservation areas, adverse economic consequences and impacts on human health. The notion of "biological pollution" and "biological pollutants" described by Elliott (2003) is generally accepted in invasion biology; it was used to develop the concept of biopollution level assessment (Olenin et al., 2007) and criteria for a Good Ecological Status descriptor in the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (Olenin et al., 2010)

The magnitude of the bioinvasion impact or biopollution level (Olenin et al., 2007) may be quantified using a free online service BINPAS.

In 1991 The Indiana Academy of Science held a national cross disciplinary conference in Indianapolis (McKnight 1993), the first of its find dealing with the issue.


A biotope is an area of uniform environmental conditions providing a living place for a specific assemblage of plants and animals. Biotope is almost synonymous with the term habitat, which is more commonly used in English-speaking countries. However, in some countries these two terms are distinguished: the subject of a habitat is a population, the subject of a biotope is a biocoenosis or biological community.

It is an English loanword derived from the German Biotop, which in turn came from the Greek bios, "life" and topos, "place". (The related word geotope has made its way into the English language by the same route, from the German Geotop.)

Community (ecology)

In ecology, a community is a group or association of populations of two or more different species occupying the same geographical area and in a particular time, also known as a biocoenosis. The term community has a variety of uses. In its simplest form it refers to groups of organisms in a specific place or time, for example, "the fish community of Lake Ontario before industrialization".

Community ecology or synecology is the study of the interactions between species in communities on many spatial and temporal scales, including the distribution, structure, abundance, demography, and interactions between coexisting populations. The primary focus of community ecology is on the interactions between populations as determined by specific genotypic and phenotypic characteristics. Community ecology has its origin in European plant sociology. Modern community ecology examines patterns such as variation in species richness, equitability, productivity and food web structure (see community structure); it also examines processes such as predator–prey population dynamics, succession, and community assembly.

On a deeper level the meaning and value of the community concept in ecology is up for debate. Communities have traditionally been understood on a fine scale in terms of local processes constructing (or destructing) an assemblage of species, such as the way climate change is likely to affect the make-up of grass communities. Recently this local community focus has been criticised. Robert Ricklefs has argued that it is more useful to think of communities on a regional scale, drawing on evolutionary taxonomy and biogeography, where some species or clades evolve and others go extinct.

History of ecology

Ecology is a new science and considered as an important branch of biological science, having only become prominent during the second half of the 20th century. Ecological thought is derivative of established currents in philosophy, particularly from ethics and politics. Its history stems all the way back to the 4th century. One of the first ecologists whose writings survive may have been Aristotle or perhaps his student, Theophrastus, both of whom had interest in many species of animals and plants. Theophrastus described interrelationships between animals and their environment as early as the 4th century BC. Ecology developed substantially in the 18th and 19th century. It began with Carl Linnaeus and his work with the economy of nature. Soon after came Alexander von Humboldt and his work with botanical geography. Alexander von Humboldt and Karl Möbius then contributed with the notion of biocoenosis. Eugenius Warming’s work with ecological plant geography led to the founding of ecology as a discipline. Charles Darwin’s work also contributed to the science of ecology, and Darwin is often attributed with progressing the discipline more than anyone else in its young history. Ecological thought expanded even more in the early 20th century. Major contributions included: Eduard Suess’ and Vladimir Vernadsky’s work with the biosphere, Arthur Tansley’s ecosystem, Charles Elton's Animal Ecology, and Henry Cowles ecological succession. Ecology influenced the social sciences and humanities. Human ecology began in the early 20th century and it recognized humans as an ecological factor. Later James Lovelock advanced views on earth as a macro-organism with the Gaia hypothesis. Conservation stemmed from the science of ecology. Important figures and movements include Shelford and the ESA, National Environmental Policy act, George Perkins Marsh, Theodore Roosevelt, Stephen A. Forbes, and post-Dust Bowl conservation. Later in the 20th century world governments collaborated on man’s effects on the biosphere and Earth’s environment.

The history of ecology is intertwined with the history of conservation efforts, in particular the founding of the Nature Conservancy.

Karl Möbius

Karl August Möbius (7 February 1825 in Eilenburg – 26 April 1908 in Berlin) was a German zoologist who was a pioneer in the field of ecology and a former director of the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin.

Marine life of the Strait of Messina

The hydrology of the Strait of Messina accommodates a variety of populations of marine organisms. The intense currents and characteristic chemistry of the waters of the Strait determine an extraordinary biocoenosis in the Mediterranean Sea with a high abundance and diversity of species; the Strait of Messina, therefore constitutes an area of fundamental importance for biodiversity. Intense and alternate currents, the low temperature and an abundance of transported nitrogen and phosphorus transported to the surface from deep waters supports both pelagic and coastal benthic populations in a cycle of organic substance.

All this, with associated phenomena, determines an ecological rearrangement that simulates Atlantic conditions for species with a prevailing Western distribution. In fact, numerous primarily Atlantic species, for example the laminariae (large tawny algae), though also present in some other zones of the Mediterranean, succeed in forming true structured submarine forests only in the Strait of Messina and are evidence of the optimal environmental conditions there.

Outline of agriculture

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to agriculture:

Agriculture – cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life.

Outline of biology

Biology – The natural science that involves the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy.

Outline of ecology

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to ecology:

Ecology – scientific study of the distribution and abundance of living organisms and how the distribution and abundance are affected by interactions between the organisms and their environment. The environment of an organism includes both physical properties, which can be described as the sum of local abiotic factors such as solar insolation, climate and geology, as well as the other organisms that share its habitat. Also called ecological science.


Phytosociology is the branch of science which deals with plant communities, their composition and development, and the relationships between the species within them. A phytosociological system is a system for classifying these communities.

Scoglio d'Africa

The Scoglio d'Africa (or Scoglio d'Affrica) also named Formica di Monte Cristo ("Monte Cristo's Ant"), is a solitary small skerry belonging to the Tuscan Archipelago located in open sea between Tyrrhenian Sea and Corsica Channel. It is located 18.5 km west of the Island of Montecristo, 23.5 km south of Pianosa Island and 43.1 km east of Corsica. Administratively it belongs to the municipality of Campo nell'Elba. It is also part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park.


Thanatocoensis (from Greek language thanatos - death and koinos - common) are all the embedded fossils at a single discovery site. This site may be referred to as a death assemblage. Such groupings are composed of fossils of organisms which may not have been associated during life, often originating from different habitats. Examples include marine fossils having been brought together by a water current or animal bones having been deposited by a predator.

Tropical vegetation

Tropical vegetation is any vegetation in tropical latitudes. Plant life that occurs in climates that are warm year-round is in general more biologically diverse that in other latitudes. Some tropical areas may receive abundant rain the whole year round, but others have long dry seasons which last several months and may vary in length and intensity with geographic location. These seasonal droughts have great impact on the vegetation, such as in the Madagascar spiny forests.Plant species native to the tropics found in tropical ecosystems are known as tropical plants. Some examples of tropical ecosystem are the Guinean Forests of West Africa, the Madagascar dry deciduous forests and the broadleaf forests of the Thai highlands and the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico.


Vegetation is an assemblage of plant species and the ground cover they provide. It is a general term, without specific reference to particular taxa, life forms, structure, spatial extent, or any other specific botanical or geographic characteristics. It is broader than the term flora which refers to species composition. Perhaps the closest synonym is plant community, but vegetation can, and often does, refer to a wider range of spatial scales than that term does, including scales as large as the global. Primeval redwood forests, coastal mangrove stands, sphagnum bogs, desert soil crusts, roadside weed patches, wheat fields, cultivated gardens and lawns; all are encompassed by the term vegetation.

The vegetation type is defined by characteristic dominant species, or a common aspect of the assemblage, such as an elevation range or environmental commonality. The contemporary use of vegetation approximates that of ecologist Frederic Clements' term earth cover, an expression still used by the Bureau of Land Management.

Vladimir Sukachev

Vladimir Nikolayevich Sukachev (also spelled Vladimir Nikolajevich Sukaczev) (Russian: Влади́мир Никола́евич Сукачёв; born June 7, 1880 in Aleksandrovka, Russian Empire – died February 9, 1967 in Moscow) was a Russian geobotanist, engineer, geographer, and corresponding member (1920) and full member (1943) of the USSR Academy of Sciences. His wife was Henrietta Ippolitovna Poplavskaja.


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