One of the important characteristics of a community is its morphological structure, which means the ratio of different life forms of living organisms.
Life forms are defined as certain types of external structure of organisms that have arisen as adaptations to habitat conditions.
The number of life forms, as a rule, is significantly less than the number of species forming a community, and the predominance of certain forms characterizes the general living conditions of organisms.
Life forms of plants
Life forms in plants and animals are very diverse. They are distinguished by a combination of features of the structure and lifestyle.
Example: The most common plant life forms are trees, shrubs, shrubs and grasses (herbaceous plants).
Example: in arid climates, succulents with fleshy leaves or stems prevail, with a lack of light in the rainforest – vines, in the tundra, highlands with low temperatures, dryness and with strong winds – elfin trees and pillow plants.
The species composition of deciduous and coniferous forests is different, and in terms of the ratio of life forms, these communities are close.
The set of life forms of plants, their ratio determine the morphological structure of the community, which is used to judge its belonging to one type or another (forest, meadow, shrub).
Life forms of animals
The life forms of animals for different systematic groups are distinguished according to different characteristics.
In animals, one of the main signs for identifying life forms is considered to be the ways of movement (walking, running, jumping, swimming, crawling, flying).
Example: Characteristic features of the external structure of ground jumpers, for example, are long hind limbs with highly developed muscles of the thighs, a long tail, a short neck. These usually include the inhabitants of open spaces: Asian jerboas, Australian kangaroos, African jumpers and other jumping mammals living on different continents.
Life forms of aquatic organisms are distinguished according to the type of their habitat.
The inhabitants of the water column are combined into a special life form plankton – a set of organisms that live in a suspended state and are unable to resist currents. Plankton contains both plant organisms (algae) and animals (small crustaceans).