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    what is the name that is given to a symbiotic relationship in which both species benefit? commensalism mutualism parasitism predation


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    Symbiosis: The Art of Living Together

    Symbiosis is a term describing any relationship or interaction between two dissimilar organisms. The specific kind of symbiosis depends on whether either or both organisms benefit from the relationship.



    Symbiosis: The Art of Living Together

    Symbiosis is a term describing any relationship or interaction between two dissimilar organisms. The specific kind of symbiosis depends on whether either or both organisms benefit from the relationship.

    GRADES 5 - 8 SUBJECTS Biology, Ecology PHOTOGRAPH

    clownfish and anemone

    The symbiotic relationship between an anemone (Heteractis magnifica) and a clownfish (Amphiron ocellaris) is a classic example of two organisms benefiting the other; the anemone provides the clownfish with protection and shelter, while the clownfish provides the anemone nutrients in the form of waste while also scaring off potential predator fish.


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    Planet Earth is inhabited by millions of species—at least! Because different species often inhabit the same spaces and share—or compete for—the same resources, they interact in a variety of ways, known collectively as symbiosis. There are five main symbiotic relationships: mutualism, commensalism, predation, parasitism, and competition.

    To explore these relationships, let’s consider a natural ecosystem such as the ocean. Oceanic environments are known for their species diversity. Imagine you are on a diving expedition to explore the worlds beneath the waves. If we were in the warm waters of the Pacific or Indian Oceans, we’d likely spot an excellent example of mutualism: the relationship between clownfish and sea anemones. In a mutualistic relationship, both species benefit. Sea anemones live attached to the surface of coral reefs. They trap their prey with stinging cells called nematocysts, which are located on their tentacles. Nematocysts release toxins when a small animal contacts an anemone’s tentacle. This paralyzes the stung animal, allowing the anemone to easily bring the animal into its mouth for ingestion.

    While other fish succumb to these toxic stings, clownfish secrete a substance in the mucus covering their bodies that suppresses the firing of nematocysts. This allows the clownfish to swim comfortably between the tentacles of anemones, creating a protected environment in which potential predators are killed off by anemone stings. This clearly benefits the clownfish, but how about the sea anemones? The brightly-colored clownfish attract other fish looking for a meal. These unsuspecting would-be predators are then caught and eaten by the anemones.

    As we continue in our imaginary deep-sea voyage, we may observe the commensalistic relationship that exists between barnacles and humpback whales. Commensalism happens when one species lives with, on, or in another species, known as the host. The host species neither benefits nor is harmed from the relationship. In our imagined example, various species of barnacles attach themselves to the skin of whales. Scientists have not discovered the exact mechanism by which barnacles are able to do this, but it does not appear to bother the whales. How do the barnacles benefit from this unlikely relationship? The huge whales transport the tiny barnacles to plankton-rich waters, where both species feast upon the abundant microorganisms that live there.

    Of course, some symbiotic relationships do cause harm. In predation, one species (the predator) hunts and kills another species (the prey). One of the better studied predators in the oceans is the orca, or killer whale. Found in every ocean on Earth, orcas are categorized as apex predators. Though they hunt and eat numerous other organisms—over 140 species—orcas themselves are not hunted by any other predator. In other words, they are at the top of the food chain!

    Another harmful relationship is parasitism. This happens when one species (the parasite) lives with, on, or in a host species, at the expense of the host species. Unlike in predation, the host is not immediately killed by the parasite, though it may sicken and die over time. Examples of common parasites found in the ocean include nematodes, leeches, and barnacles. That’s right—though barnacles exist commensally with whales, they are parasites for swimming crabs. A barnacle may root itself within a crab’s reproductive system. While the crab does not die from this interaction, its reproductive capabilities are greatly diminished.

    The last example of symbiosis we will explore on our imaginary dive is competition—the struggle among organisms for the same limited resources in an ecosystem. Competition can happen between members of the same species (intraspecific competition) and between different species (interspecific competition). An example of interspecific competition in the ocean is the relationship between corals and sponges. Sponges are very abundant in coral reefs. If they become too successful, however, they take needed food and other resources from the corals that make up the reef. Sponges may outcompete corals for resources in the short term, but if too many corals die, the reef itself becomes damaged. This is bad for the sponges, which may themselves begin to die off until the reef is balanced again.

    Symbiotic relationships can be useful measures of an ecosystem’s health. For example, large tracts of coral reefs are severely damaged or dead because of recent increases in ocean temperature due to climate change. The temperature increase induces coral to expel the algae that live mutualistically within them. Without their algae, the coral turn white and die. This loss of symbiosis is an early sign of declining coral health and speaks to the importance not only of studying symbiosis within marine environments, but also of examining the negative impacts that humans can have on these interactions. In the words of National Geographic Explorer Sylvia Earle: “We need to respect the oceans and take care of them as if our lives depend on it. Because they do.”

    Source : education.nationalgeographic.org

    Mutualism: eight examples of species that work together to get ahead

    Meet a variety of species that team up to their mutual benefit.


    Mutualism: eight examples of species that work together to get ahead

    By Emily Osterloff 275

    In nature, species will sometimes form unexpectedly close bonds and work to their mutual benefit. 

    Symbiotic relationships are the close associations formed between pairs of species. They come in a variety of forms, such as parasitism (where one species benefits and the other is harmed) and commensalism (where one species benefits and the other is neither harmed nor helped).

    Mutualism is a type of symbiotic relationship where all species involved benefit from their interactions. While mutualism is highly complex, it can be roughly broken down into two types of relationship. In some cases, the species are entirely dependent on each other (obligate mutualism) and in others, they derive benefits from their relationship but could survive without each other (facultative mutualism).

    Here are eight examples of mutualistic relationships.

    1. Pistol shrimps and gobies

    Gobies and pistol shrimps stay close together when they are outside their shared burrow © Francesco_Ricciardi/ Shutterstock

    True gobies (Gobiidae) are a family of about 2,000 species of fishes. Most of them are quite small and live on the seafloor. In some cases, gobies will form mutualistic relationships with pistol shrimps of the family Alpheidae.

    Pistol shrimp are burrowers, digging holes in the sandy seafloor that they will maintain and sometimes share with a goby. Outside the burrow, the pair stay close together, often with the shrimp maintaining physical contact by resting its sensitive antennae on the fish.

    When the goby spots a potential predator, it uses chemical cues and bolts for cover in the shared burrow. The shrimp relies on these tactile and chemical cues to know when it needs to hide, too. When the goby is active, it signals to the shrimp that it's relatively safe to be outside the burrow.

    A 2019 study showed that, as predicted by their role as lookouts, the goby - in this case the fierce shrimpgoby () - was always first to venture outside. It seems that the shrimp's decision to leave the safety of its home only begins once its partner has exited the burrow.

    The shrimps are also thought to benefit from their relationship with the fish through an increase in food, such as the fish's faeces or any parasites on its body.

    2. Aphids and ants

    Ants feed on the honeydew produced by aphids and may offer them protection in return © Jmalik at English Wikipedia via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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    Aphids are little sap-sucking insects that secrete honeydew, a sugary liquid that is the waste product of their diet. Many aphid species are known to engage in a mutualistic relationship with ants that feed on the honeydew by 'milking' the aphids with their antennae.

    In return, some species of ants will protect the aphids from predators and parasites. Some will move aphid eggs and nymphs underground to their nest, which ultimately makes harvesting their honeydew more efficient - like an ant equivalent of a dairy farm.

    However, some aphids have evolved to take advantage of the honeydew-seeking ants. aphids come in two morphs: the round morph, which is milked, and a flat, ant-mimicking morph. When the ants carry the flat individuals to their brood chamber, the aphids will drink the body fluid of the ants' larvae.

    Honeydew is produced by a variety of insects, including scale insects and some caterpillars, and is appealing to species other than ants. In Madagascar, some geckos have been observed lapping up the honeydew produced by plant hoppers. This may be mutualism, with the gecko's presence keeping predators of planthoppers away, but scientists aren't sure yet.

    3. Woolly bats and pitcher plants

    Woolly bats are known to roost in ©BAZILE Vincent via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

    Pitcher plants are carnivores that use nectar at the rim of their tube-like structure to attract prey such as insects and small vertebrates. A slippery substance at the rim causes these animals to fall into the digestive juices contained in the plant's equivalent of a stomach.

    While you might think it would be prudent for animals to avoid these plants where possible, some bats voluntarily clamber inside them.

    Woolly bats are known to roost in , a tropical pitcher plant found in Borneo.

    While the bat gets a hidey-hole to rest in, the plant benefits by catching the guano (faeces) that the little mammal produces. This provides the plant with the nutrients it needs to survive.

    A similar relationship occurs between tree shrews and another Bornean pitcher plant, . The shrews climb onto the pitcher's rim to feed on the nectar. In return, with the plant's hollow body acting a bit like a toilet bowl, the shrews drop their nutritional faeces into the plant's stomach.

    Source : www.nhm.ac.uk

    Symbiosis: Commensialism, Mutualism, Parasitism, Neutralism

    The word symbiosis comes from Greek origin meaning “together” & “living” and describes a close relationship between species. Six broad types of symbiosis

    Symbiosis: Commensialism, Mutualism, Parasitism, Neutralism, Competition & Predation

    08 Nov 2017 | Wildlife ACT

    Monitor Diaries

    Symbiosis between Oxpecker and Warthog. Photo by Kerryn Bullock

    The word symbiosis comes from Greek origin meaning “together” and “living” and describes a close interaction or relationship between two different species. It is a close and long-term biological interaction between two different biological organisms. Six broad types of symbiosis are recognised:

    Commensialism – where one species benefits while the other is unaffected.Mutualism – both species benefit.Parasitism – one species benefits while one is harmed.Competition – neither benefits.Predation – one species benefits while the other dies, andNeutralism – both species unaffected.

    Symbiosis between Oxpecker and Buffalo. Photo by Kerryn Bullock

    The Red-billed Oxpecker (Buphagus erythrorynchus) is a bird we often see while out in the field. They are most often spotted hopping around mammalian herbivores. This close relationship between these two organisms is more complicated than you would first imagine. Originally a mutualistic symbiotic relationship comes to mind as the Oxpecker is eating external parasites off the coat of the mammal it is riding on. So the bird benefits in the form of a meal and the mammal benefits by having parasites removed.

    The Oxpecker among a herd of animals also acts as a look-out. It lets off a shrill warning call if it detects danger which positively benefits the mammal it is on but large predators are no threat to the bird itself, so this would be a communalistic interaction. The relationship gets even more complex with recent studies revealing Oxpeckers can also have a parasitic relationship with the mammal it is on. These birds have been documented pecking off scabs and re-opening semi-healed abrasions to lap up the blood. This prevents wounds from healing and can cause infection – negatively affecting the mammal.

    Symbiosis between Oxpecker and Buffalo. Photo by Kerryn Bullock

    Just the relationship between these two species is so complicated. If you extrapolate that over all the species, it’s amazing how dynamic and incredible the world around us really is.

    Join our Conservation Training Course to learn so much more about the relationships between Africa’s unique wildlife species.

    Text & Photos by Wildlife ACT Monitor Kerryn Bullock

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    Source : www.wildlifeact.com

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