The existence of functional biological organization at the level of multi-species communities has long been contested in ecology and evolutionary biology. I found that adding a trophic level to simulated ecological communities enhanced their ability to compete at the community level, increasing the likelihood of one community forcing all or most species in a second community to extinction. Community-level identity emerged within systems of interacting ecological networks, while competitive ability at the community level was enhanced by intense within-community selection pressure. These results suggest a reassessment of the nature of biological organization above the level of species, indicating that the drive toward biological integration, so prominent throughout the history of life, might extend to multi-species communities. ?? 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Ecological community integration increases with added trophic complexity