Competition (Biology): Definition, Types & Examples (2022)

Ecological competition occurs when living organisms, including animals, plants, bacteria and fungi, need the same limited resources to thrive in their shared environment.

Each organism has a specific place in the ecosystem known as its niche in biology. The purpose of specialization in a niche is to regulate competition.

An ecosystem could collapse if several species needed the same scarce resources to complete their life cycle.

Definition of Competition in Biology

Competition in biology is a term that describes how living organisms directly or indirectly seek resources.

Competition can occur within a species or between different species. The many types of competition include everything from dogs fighting over a bone to rutting stags locking horns in a fight to the death.

Even microscopic bacteria vigorously compete through various mechanisms, such as exploiting a particular resource needed by competitors, or using metabolic functions to make the external environment unsuitable for other bacterial species.

Competition examples are ubiquitous in the natural world. Competitive invasive species such as stink bugs, khapra beetles, green ash borers, garlic mustard, Asian carp, zebra mussels and Asiatic beetles can decimate native species and severely disrupt the ecosystem. Scientists estimate that lichen produce more than 500 biochemical compounds that kill microbes, control light and suppress plant growth.

(Video) Class 12 Biology Chapter 13 | Competition - Organisms and Populations

Competition in community ecology sustains life and strengthens the gene pool. Better competitors are more likely to survive and pass on their advantageous genetic traits to offspring. Whether a characteristic is favorable or unfavorable depends on environmental conditions.

For instance, hooves are better adaptations than toes for running across open grasslands.

Competition Often Drives Adaptations

Reproduction is a driving motivator of living organisms. Many traits, characteristics and competitive behaviors have evolved to ensure continuation of the species.

For instance, female turkeys and peacocks prefer suitors with impressive tail feathers. Mating calls, mating dances and other mating rituals are also adaptations linked to reproductive success.

Gause’s Competitive Exclusion Principle

A stable ecosystem is regulated by counterbalancing forces. The competitive exclusion principle, developed by Russian scientist and mathematician G.F. Gause in the 1930s, states that two species cannot indefinitely hold the same spot in a niche because resources are finite.

Eventually, the best competitor will dominate, causing the other to move on or die off.

However, there can be subtle differences that may allow for peaceful coexistence. For example, similar species of seed-eating kangaroo rats can still live in the same small area because one species prefers feeding on hard ground and the other likes sandy spots. Therefore, the competing rats avoid running into each other.

(Video) Competition and Natural Selection | Evolution | Biology | FuseSchool

Additionally, there are mitigating factors that may enable stronger and weaker competitors to live side by side. Such scenarios can occur when the dominant species is under siege by predators or resource needs change.

Competition can also be reduced if the subordinate species feeds on the leftovers of the dominant species rather than fighting them for prey.

Types of Competitionand Examples

Competition in biology is tied to supply and demand. Individuals of a species will fiercely compete for whatever they need from the environment to survive and enjoy reproductive success.

Plants compete with each other for light exposure, temperature, humidity, pollinators, soil nutrients and growing space. Microbes compete for chemical substrates. Animals fight over territory, water, food, shelter and prospective mates.

Intraspecific competition involves direct competition between members of the same species. Competition can be keen within a species that shares an ecological niche because they demand identical resources. Competition is less of an issue when organisms live in different niches and use slightly different resources.

A common competition in biology example is the vocal and territorial male Northern cardinal that chases away other male cardinals interloping on its breeding grounds.

Interspecific competition occurs between members of different species that desire the same things, such as food, shelter and water. Direct competition is a type of struggle that involves species or organisms directly interacting with one another. Vultures and wolves both go after a fresh moose carcass, for instance.

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Indirect competition does not involve direct confrontation; for example, non-migratory sparrows may build nests in bluebird houses before the migratory bluebirds return to their home from the previous season.

Exploitation competition is a common dominance strategy found in many different areas. Stronger competitors monopolize resources and deny access to competitors. For example, whitetail deer herds can eat all the vegetation in the understory. Loss of forest food and habitat threaten the survival of small birds like indigo buntings, robins and warblers, as well as large birds like wild turkeys that nest in ferns.

Interference competition happens when one organism devises a way of interfering with another organism’s access to mutually desired resources. For example, walnut trees produce deadly toxins in the soil, and pine trees change the natural pH of the soil to keep competitors at bay. In the animal kingdom, a hungry coyote frightens away buzzards and crows feasting on carrion.

Population Dynamics

Nature regulates population size and dynamics. When population growth is unsustainable, organisms are more susceptible to disease that leads to death and starvation, and the birth rate drops.

Competition in biology is density-dependent, meaning that competition heats up when the number of competitors is high, and decreases when competitors are few in number.

Intraspecific competition in biology is particularly intense.

Species Extinction

Competition can have consequences beyond the typical predator-and-prey interactions that keep populations in check. When a species loses food and habitat, it can become endangered or extinct. Hunting and urbanization has played a role in species loss.

(Video) What Are Interspecific & Intraspecific Interactions | Ecology & Environment | Biology | FuseSchool

For example, passenger pigeons once numbered in the billions from New York to California before they were hunted and forced out of their native nesting areas.

They are now extinct.

According to the American Museum of Natural History, the growing population of humans on the planet poses the biggest threat to other species. Humans exploit thousands of species and deplete limited natural resources to maintain comfortable lifestyles. Human over-consumption leaves fewer resources for other species that cannot compete with human activity.

Ongoing threats to the ecosystem include global warming, pollution, deforestation, over-fishing and introduction of invasive species.

Competition and Evolution

Competition plays a decisive role in natural selection and evolution. Well-adapted organisms have an edge in maintaining their spot in the ecosystem. Organisms with less favorable traits and characteristics decline in the population. Weaker competitors tend to die off before propagating their genes, or they relocate to a place where the odds of surviving and thriving appear more promising.

Character displacement is an evolutionary process of natural selection that supports divergence within a population. Generally, character displacement is more prevalent in areas where two competing species overlap. For example, Charles Darwin found evidence of ecological character displacement when he was studying ground finches in the Galapagos Islands.

To reduce competition for particular resources, finch species developed different sizes and shapes of beaks adapted to eating certain seed varieties that other species had trouble reaching or cracking.

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According to The Washington Post, evolutionary change can happen much faster than previously believed. For instance, green anole lizards in Florida moved their habitat from low branches to high branches in trees in response to an invasion of brown anole lizards from Cuba.

In just 15 years, the green anole had developed sticky feet to help them cling to the treetops as a response to direct competition from another species that ate the same kind of food.

FAQs

What is competition in biology and example? ›

Competition in biology is a term that describes how living organisms directly or indirectly seek resources. Competition can occur within a species or between different species. The many types of competition include everything from dogs fighting over a bone to rutting stags locking horns in a fight to the death.

What is competition and its types? ›

Summary. Competition is a relationship between organisms that strive for the same resources in the same place. Intraspecific competition occurs between members of the same species. It im proves the species' adaptations. Interspecific competition occurs between members of different species.

What is competition in biology short answer? ›

Competition occurs when two species each require a resource that is in short supply, so that the availability of the resource to one species is negatively influenced by the presence of the other species. It is a "-/-" interaction.

What is competition definition biology? ›

Competition is most typically considered the interaction of individuals that vie for a common resource that is in limited supply, but more generally can be defined as the direct or indirect interaction of organisms that leads to a change in fitness when the organisms share the same resource.

Which of the following is an example of competition? ›

The correct answer is under a. two species of insects feeding on the same rare plant. This is a relationship between organisms that represents a competition for food, so this agreement is correct.

What are the 4 types of competition? ›

There are four types of competition in a free market system: perfect competition, monopolistic competition, oligopoly, and monopoly. Under monopolistic competition, many sellers offer differentiated products—products that differ slightly but serve similar purposes.

What are the 5 types of competition? ›

Before we start on the ways that you can identify your competitors, let's first talk about the types of competition that you have in the field. There are 5 types of competitors: direct, potential, indirect, future, and replacement.

What are the 4 levels of competition? ›

Kotler outlined four levels of competition, based on the degree of product substitutability.
  • Brand competition. Companies that are offering similar products and services at similar prices.
  • Industry competition. Companies offering the same class of products.
  • Form competition. ...
  • Generic competition.
2 May 2019

What is the full meaning of competition? ›

1 : the act or process of trying to get or win something others are also trying to get or win. 2 : a contest in which all who take part strive for the same thing.

What is an example of competition between animals? ›

Interspecific competition occurs when members of more than one species compete for the same resource. Woodpeckers and squirrels often compete for nesting rights in the same holes and spaces in trees, while the lions and cheetahs of the African savanna compete for the same antelope and gazelle prey.

What are the 6 types of interspecific competition? ›

In a review and synthesis of experimental evidence regarding interspecific competition, Schoener described six specific types of mechanisms by which competition occurs, including consumptive, preemptive, overgrowth, chemical, territorial, and encounter.

What is an example of a competition interaction? ›

Example- Plants

Different plant species produce various types of chemical substances that discourage other plants of the same species from growing around them. The competition between organisms is usually for space, nutrients, and water around the plants.

What is an example of competition in the ocean? ›

An example of interspecific competition in the ocean is the relationship between corals and sponges. Sponges are very abundant in coral reefs. If they become too successful, however, they take needed food and other resources from the corals that make up the reef.

What are the two different types of competition? ›

Types of competition

Interspecific competition occurs between individuals of different species. Intraspecific competition occurs between individuals of the same species.

What is the nature of competition? ›

Competition is a rivalry where two or more parties strive for a common goal which cannot be shared: where one's gain is the other's loss (an example of which is a zero-sum game). Competition can arise between entities such as organisms, individuals, economic and social groups, etc.

Why is competition important in nature? ›

In ecosystems, organisms compete for the resources they need to survive, grow, and reproduce. Animals compete for air, food, shelter, water, and space. Plants also compete with each other for the resources they need, including air, water, sunlight, and space.

What is plant competition? ›

Competitiveness describes a key ability important for plants to grow and survive abiotic and biotic stresses. Under optimal, but particularly under non-optimal conditions, plants compete for resources including nutrients, light, water, space, pollinators and other. Competition occurs above- and belowground.

Why is competition important for natural selection? ›

Why is competition important for natural selection? It shows which variations are more successful, allowing the organisms with those variations to survive. It causes organisms, regardless of which traits they have, to die out, reducing the population size.

What is perfect competition examples? ›

What Is an Example of Perfect Competition? Consider a farmers market where each vendor sells the same type of jam. There is little differentiation between each of their products, as they use the same recipe, and they each sell them at an equal price.

What are the 4 types of markets? ›

The four popular types of market structures include perfect competition, oligopoly market, monopoly market, and monopolistic competition.

What are the 5 types of markets? ›

Different types of market systems and structures
  • Perfect competition. A perfect competition market system occurs in situations where there are almost unlimited buyers and sellers. ...
  • Monopoly. ...
  • Monopolistic competition. ...
  • Oligopoly. ...
  • Monopsony.

What is direct competition? ›

Direct competition is a situation in which two or more businesses offer products or services that are essentially the same; as such, the businesses are competing for the same potential market.

What are the 5 competitive strategies? ›

Here are five types of competitive strategy and an example for each:
  • Cost leadership. ...
  • Product differentiation. ...
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) ...
  • Cost focus. ...
  • Commitment to customers strategy.
16 Nov 2021

What is competition level? ›

Level of Competition in the Market. Two key conditions determine the level of competition in a given market: the number and relative size of buyers and sellers, and the extent to which the product is standardized.

What are the values of competition? ›

Competition helps us with goal setting. While setting goals and making a plan to reach them can be done outside of competition, competition helps provide deadlines and progress checks on our goals. Competition helps us to learn to win and lose gracefully. Nobody likes a boastful person, and nobody likes are pouter.

What is a sentence for competition? ›

1) The competition is very strong this time. 2) The competition has been thrown open to the public. 3) Competition from established businesses can be formidable. 4) British athletes had mixed fortunes in yesterday's competition.

What is the word class for competition? ›

compete is a verb, competition is a noun, competitive is an adjective:They like to compete against each other.

What is the base word of competition? ›

It derives from the Latin verb competere, meaning “to meet, come together.” Competition often involves two or more individuals or teams coming together in some kind of contest.

What are 4 things animals compete for? ›

What Do Organisms Compete For? Organisms compete for the resources they need to survive- air, water, food, and space. In areas where these are sufficient, organisms live in comfortable co-existence, and in areas where resources are abundant, the ecosystem boasts high species richness (diversity).

What are 2 examples of symbiosis? ›

6 Surprising Symbiotic Relationships
  • Can you imagine how your life might be without your best friend? ...
  • Sharks and Pilot Fish.
  • Coyote and Badger.
  • Hermit Crabs and Sea Anemones.
  • Colombian Lesserblack Tarantula and Dotted Humming Frog.
  • Drongos and Meerkats.
23 Aug 2018

What is competition in forest? ›

Competition. Many factors affect how competition plays out in a forest. These factors include tree age, species, spacing, size, and disturbances. For example, trees that are the same age both support and compete with each other. When trees are young, they shelter one another from the wind.

What are two results of competition? ›

Competition can occur between organisms of the same species, or between members of different species. Competition between species can either lead to the extinction of one of the species, or a decline in both of the species.

What are the 5 types of interspecific relationships? ›

The main types of interspecific interactions include competition (-/-), predation (+/-), mutualism, (+/+), commensalism (+/0), and parasitism (+/-).

What are the two basic types of intraspecific competition? ›

Intraspecific competition is a competition between individuals from the same species (cospecifics). The effect of competition on each individual within the species depends on the type of competition that takes place. 'Contest-competition' may be passive or active and may result in different outcomes.

What is an example of competition between species? ›

Interspecific competition occurs when members of more than one species compete for the same resource. Woodpeckers and squirrels often compete for nesting rights in the same holes and spaces in trees, while the lions and cheetahs of the African savanna compete for the same antelope and gazelle prey.

What are some examples of competition in an ecosystem? ›

In ecosystems, organisms compete for the resources they need to survive, grow, and reproduce. Animals compete for air, food, shelter, water, and space. Plants also compete with each other for the resources they need, including air, water, sunlight, and space.

What is an example of competition in the ocean? ›

An example of interspecific competition in the ocean is the relationship between corals and sponges. Sponges are very abundant in coral reefs. If they become too successful, however, they take needed food and other resources from the corals that make up the reef.

What are 2 examples of symbiosis? ›

6 Surprising Symbiotic Relationships
  • Can you imagine how your life might be without your best friend? ...
  • Sharks and Pilot Fish.
  • Coyote and Badger.
  • Hermit Crabs and Sea Anemones.
  • Colombian Lesserblack Tarantula and Dotted Humming Frog.
  • Drongos and Meerkats.
23 Aug 2018

Which is the best example of competition in a forest ecosystem? ›

Which is the best example of competition in a forest ecosystem? A colony of bees builds and protects a hive together.

What is plant competition? ›

Competitiveness describes a key ability important for plants to grow and survive abiotic and biotic stresses. Under optimal, but particularly under non-optimal conditions, plants compete for resources including nutrients, light, water, space, pollinators and other. Competition occurs above- and belowground.

What is the full meaning of competition? ›

1 : the act or process of trying to get or win something others are also trying to get or win. 2 : a contest in which all who take part strive for the same thing.

What is the nature of competition? ›

Competition is a rivalry where two or more parties strive for a common goal which cannot be shared: where one's gain is the other's loss (an example of which is a zero-sum game). Competition can arise between entities such as organisms, individuals, economic and social groups, etc.

What are the 6 types of interspecific competition? ›

In a review and synthesis of experimental evidence regarding interspecific competition, Schoener described six specific types of mechanisms by which competition occurs, including consumptive, preemptive, overgrowth, chemical, territorial, and encounter.

What is competition in forest? ›

Competition. Many factors affect how competition plays out in a forest. These factors include tree age, species, spacing, size, and disturbances. For example, trees that are the same age both support and compete with each other. When trees are young, they shelter one another from the wind.

What is interference competition example? ›

During interference competition, also called contest competition, organisms of the same species or of two or more different species interact directly by fighting for scarce resources. For example, large aphids defend feeding sites on cottonwood leaves by ejecting smaller aphids from better sites.

What is an example of commensalism? ›

One of the best-known examples of a commensal is the remora (family Echineidae) that rides attached to sharks and other fishes. Remoras have evolved on the top of their heads a flat oval sucking disk structure that adheres to the bodies of their hosts.

What are the 5 types of symbiosis? ›

6 Types of Symbiotic Relationships EXPLAINED (with examples)
  • Competition (-/-) Definition: the struggle of individuals to obtain a shared limiting resource. ...
  • Predation (+/-) ...
  • Parasitism (+/-) ...
  • Herbivory (+/-) ...
  • Mutualism (+/+) ...
  • Commensalism (+/0)

What is an example of parasitism? ›

A parasitic relationship is one in which one organism, the parasite, lives off of another organism, the host, harming it and possibly causing death. The parasite lives on or in the body of the host. A few examples of parasites are tapeworms, fleas, and barnacles.

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