Biological specificity

In biology, biological specificity is the tendency of a characteristic such as a behavior or a biochemical variation to occur in a particular species.

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.[1]


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:

Intraspecificity (literally within species), or being intraspecific, describes behaviors, biochemical variations and other issues within individuals of a single species. These may include:

Two or more individual organisms, populations, or taxa are conspecific if they belong to the same species.[2] 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.

The antonym (opposite term) of conspecificity is the term heterospecificity: two individuals are heterospecific if they are considered to belong to different biological species.[3]

Related concepts

Not to be confused with Congenic.

Congeners are organisms within the same genus.[4]

See also

Look up interspecific or intraspecific in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.


  1. Linus Pauling, Barbara Marinacci, Linus Pauling in His Own Words: Selections From His Writings, Speeches and Interviews, (1995), p. 96.
  2. "Conspecificity". Biology online. Retrieved 5 December 2009.
  3. "Heterospecificity". Biology online. Retrieved 5 December 2009.
  4. Congener, Accessed 2009-03-25

External links

Look up conspecific or confamilial in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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