A collection or community of highly interdependent life forms which behaves as if it were a single organism of a higher order. Familiar examples include the colonies of social insects such as ants. These appear to display an organizational ability and collective will (see hive-intelligence) that is not evident in the individuals of which they is composed. More controversial is the suggestion that the entire terrestrial biosphere (and presumably that of other planets which support life) acts as a superorganism (see Gaia hypothesis).
Related categories• CLASSIFICATION IN BIOLOGY
• SYSTEMS THEORY
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