Functional group (ecology)

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A functional group is merely a set of species, or collection of organisms, that share alike characteristics within a community. Ideally, the lifeforms would perform equivalent tasks based on domain forces, rather than a common ancestor or evolutionary relationship. This could potentially lead to analogous structures that overrule the possibility of homology. More specifically, these beings produce resembling effects to external factors of an inhabiting system.[1] Due to the fact that a majority of these creatures share an ecological niche, it is practical to assume they require similar structures in order to achieve the greatest amount of fitness. This refers to such as the ability to successfully reproduce to create offspring, and furthermore sustain life by avoiding alike predators and sharing meals.

Scientific Investigation[edit]

Rather than the idea of this concept based upon a set of theories, functional groups are directly observed and determined by research specialists. It is important that this information is witnessed first-hand in order to state as usable evidence. Behavior and overall contribution to others are common key points to look for. Individuals use the corresponding perceived traits to further link genetic profiles to one another. Although, the life-forms themselves are different, variables based upon overall function and performance are interchangeable. These groups share an indistinguishable part within their energy flow, providing a key position within food chains and relationships within environment(s).[2]

What is an ecosystem and why is that important? An ecosystem is the biological organization that defines and expands on various environment factors- abiotic and biotic, that relate to simultaneous interaction.[3] Whether it be a producer or relative consumer, each and every piece of life maintains a critical position in the ongoing survival rates of its own surroundings. As it pertains, a functional groups shares a very specific role within any given ecosystem and the process of cycling vitality.


There are generally two types of functional groups that range between flora and specific animal populations. Groups that relate to vegetation science, or flora, are known as plant functional types. Also referred to as PFT for short, those of such often share identical photosynthetic processes and require comparable nutrients. As an example, plants that undergo photosynthesis share an identical purpose in producing chemical energy for others.[4] In contrast, those within the animal science range are called guilds, typically sharing feeding types. This could be easily simplified when viewing trophic levels. Examples include primary consumers, primary consumers, secondary consumers, tertiary consumers, and quaternary consumers.[5]


  1. ^ "Chapter 2: Functional Groups." Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 9-25. Print.
  2. ^ Vassiliki, Markantonatou. "Marine Biodiversity Wiki." Functional Groups -. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.
  3. ^ "" Ecosystem. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2016.
  4. ^ "The Ecosystem and How It Relates to Sustainability." The Concept of the Ecosystem. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2016.
  5. ^ "Chapter 2: Functional Groups." Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 9-25. Print.