Biological Macrosystems

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Biological Macrosystems


aggregations of organisms (individuals) forming integral systems (at a level above the organismic) of different sizes and stabilities from the comparatively small (family, colony, flock) to the population, species, and biocenosis of different scales. The principal biological macrosystem is a population, an aggregation of freely interbreeding individuals of one species occupying a territory homogeneous with respect to landscape and possessing common morphological, physiological, and genetic characteristics. A population functions as a single system. In most species, populations consist of smaller groups (families, herds, flocks, colonies, and other intraspecific groups) that maintain and regulate reproduction and utilization by the population of the territory and its vital resources. At the same time they battle other species, competitors, for the territory. An aggregation of populations (interacting with each other directly or in relay fashion) forms, in turn, a species as an integral biological macrosystem at a higher level. Finally, populations of different species living on the same territory and closely linked together by the exchange of substances and energy form a community of species (biocenosis) that maintains the biological cycle of matter in a given place on the earth’s surface (in a biogeocenosis). The aggregation of biocenoses in bodies of water and on land forms a biological macrosystem of the highest rank, the biosphere. Biological macrosystems at higher levels coordinate and control the functions of macrosystems at lower levels. This regulation is achieved both by interaction with feedback and by specific regulatory systems. Among the latter, means of communication (biosignaling) between organisms are of fundamental importance. Biosignaling may be chemical, electrical, acoustic, optic, or mechanical in nature. It links together not only the animals of the same or different species but also animals and plants.


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Naumov, N. P. “Biologicheskie makrosistemy.” Priroda, 1963, no. 5.
Osnovy lesnoi biogeotsenologii. Edited by V. N. Sukachev and N. V. Dylis. Moscow, 1964.
Macfadyen, A. Ekologiia zhivotnykh. Moscow, 1965. (Translated from English.)
Odum, E. Ekologiia. Moscow, 1968. (Translated from English.)
Marler, P., and W. Hamilton. Mechanisms of Animal Behavior. New York, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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