functional type

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  • Plant Sciences and Forestry
  • Ecology and Conservation


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A system for classifying organisms that is based upon the role they play in an ecosystem rather than their taxonomic status. It may refer to a structural feature, such as deciduous or evergreen in plants (compare life-form), or it may relate to physiological activity, such as nitrogen-fixing or cellulose-decomposing. This classification is proving valuable in studies of biodiversity in relation to stability in ecosystems, because stability may be more closely related to the range of functional types present in an ecosystem than to the number of species found within it.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry — Ecology and Conservation.

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