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A group of species that utilize the same kinds of resources, such as food, nesting sites, or places to live, in a similar manner. Emphasis is on ecologically associated groups that are most likely to compete because of similarity in ecological niches, even though species can be taxonomically unrelated. The term was derived from the guild in human society composed of people engaged in an activity or trade held in common.
The guild concept focuses attention on the ways in which ecologically related species differ enough to permit coexistence, or avoid competitive displacement. For example, new places to live for some plants are provided by badger mounds in dense tall-grass prairie vegetation.
The guild is also commonly used as the smallest unit in an ecosystem in studies relating to environmental impact, wildlife management, and habitat classification. A representative species of a guild may be selected for study involving the uncertain assumption that environmental impact will influence this species in the same way as other guild members. See Ecosystem