Biochemist Linus Pauling stated that "Biological specificity is the set of characteristics of living organisms or constituents of living organisms of being special or doing something special. Each animal or plant species is special. It differs in some way from all other species... biological specificity is the major problem about understanding life."
Characteristics may further be described as being interspecific, intraspecific, and conspecific.
Interspecificity (literally between/among species), or being interspecific, describes issues between individuals of separate species. These may include:
- Interspecies communication, communication between different species of animals, plants, fungi or bacteria
- Interspecific competition, when individuals of different species compete for the same resource in an ecosystem
- Interspecific feeding, when adults of one species feed the young of another species
- Interspecific hybridization
- Interspecific interaction, the effects organisms in a community have on one another
- Interspecific pregnancy, pregnancy involving an embryo or fetus belonging to another species than the carrier
- Intraspecific antagonism, when individuals of the same species are hostile to one another
- Intraspecific competition, when individuals or groups of individuals from the same species compete for the same resource in an ecosystem
- Intraspecific hybridization
- Intraspecific mimicry
Two or more individual organisms, populations, or taxa are conspecific if they belong to the same species. Where different species can interbreed and their gametes compete, the conspecific gametes take precedence over heterospecific gametes. This is known as conspecific sperm precedence, or conspecific pollen precedence in plants.
- Linus Pauling, Barbara Marinacci, Linus Pauling in His Own Words: Selections From His Writings, Speeches and Interviews, (1995), p. 96.
- "Conspecificity". Biology online. Retrieved 5 December 2009.
- "Heterospecificity". Biology online. Retrieved 5 December 2009.
- Congener, Merriam-Webster.com. Accessed 2009-03-25